By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
After being introduced by Vicki Howerton, Dr. Stuart Steiger of Madison Chiropractic Center took the floor as the guest speaker at the Rotary’s Nov. 30 meeting. He began with the subject of chiropractic medicine in general, the third largest branch of medicine in the health care industry, a branch that approaches the human body from a more natural perspective than “traditional” medicine.
He also discussed a couple of other forms of alternative medicine, in particular, the closely related field of osteopathy, explaining how both had originated in the late 1800s, but osteopathy evolved into a focus on the musculoskeletal system, while chiropractic medicine focused on the spine and nervous system.
In speaking of his own particular practice, he began by explaining that his goal for his patients was to “be proactive rather than reactive…to create health rather than treat disease.”
If something with the spine or nervous system is out of line of out of whack, it throws off the entire body. Doing an adjustment and getting everything back into alignment benefits the entire body and allows the body to begin functioning properly again, creating better health and a better quality of life.
Talking to the patient was key, he told the audience. Many times, he did a lot of explaining of medical reports patients brought to him from other doctors; doctors who didn’t take the time to talk to their patients or did only a cursory job of explaining.
Listening to patients was important as well. “If you listen, the answers are there,” he said. “It is like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.”
In the era that has seen more and more specialized medicine, he sees the future of healthcare in the next 10-15 years as reversing this trend and slowly becoming more integrated again, as the AMA gets more on board with the more holistic approach and the industry recognizes the importance of seeing the body as a whole, an integrated system rather than a collection of discrete parts. He would like to see a future where a chiropractor and a medical doctor would work right across the hall from each other, rather than in separate hospitals, consulting with each other and caring for each other’s patients in an integrated fashion – treating the whole patient.
The problem with too much medical specialization, he said, is that “if your only tool is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail.”
Many people started to realize this in the 1990’s and began paying out of their own pockets for alternative medicine. When the insurance companies realized this, they “followed the money” and began to take a more serious look at alternative medicine’s approach to healthcare and reevaluate it. As a result, many insurance companies who once refused to cover chiropractic sessions now do so.
As part of his whole-body, holistic approach to patient care, he also talks to patients about nutrition, about “filling the voids” left by fast food and processed food. Although he admits to going through the McDonald’s line himself at times, and realizes that people become pressed for time with hectic schedules, they should not neglect this important part of their overall health – cleaning up the diet and giving the body what it needs to work properly.
“Human bodies were meant to repair themselves if they’re working right,” he said. But to work right, they need the proper nutrients to work with.
While chiropractic medicine cannot fix or treat every illness, it can help by providing a better quality of life and alleviating pain. It’s all part of the holistic, natural approach that he embraces, an approach that creates health instead of just treating disease, resulting in a better overall quality of life.