Adjusting Attitudes: Qualifying in Chiropractic
Chiropractic is a relatively new health care profession in Malaysia that is gaining in popularity. doctorjob talked with Dr Michael T Haneline of IMU about becoming a chiropractor.
The general public tends to regard chiropractors as specialists in treating pain, in particular back pain, neck pain and headaches.
Chiropractic treatment is characterised by the manual manipulation of the vertebrae (bones in the spine) – often called spinal adjustment – in order to correct problems locally, as well as in other parts of the body. This is because the nerves in the human body begin at the brain, go down through the spinal cord inside the vertebral canal and branch out to the rest of the body. By applying controlled forces to specific vertebrae, chiropractors can help to relieve pain without the use of drugs.
‘When people see chiropractors, it is primarily because they have pain,’ said Dr Haneline, Head of the new chiropractic department at IMU. ‘If a person has back pain, it could be coming from a disorder of the vertebrae. However, sometimes, disorders of the internal organs, for instance the stomach or gall bladder, cause pain in the back rather than hurting locally. So, the first job of the chiropractor is to find out what’s causing the pain.’
Hence, a chiropractor will first do a thorough examination of the patient’s entire body, not only the spine, to rule out any conditions that might require a referral for medical treatment.
‘If it’s a condition that chiropractors treat, then they could take care of that person,’ continued Dr Haneline, ‘but if it’s a gallbladder problem, for example, then the chiropractor would refer the patient to a medical doctor for care.’
The Origins of Chiropractic
Chiropractic was discovered in 1895 by an American named Daniel David Palmer. He had a patient who had been deaf for 17 years. Upon questioning, the patient said that he had been lifting something heavy 17 years before, and something went ‘pop’ in the area of his upper back and lower neck. Palmer felt around the man’s neck and noticed a bump, like something was out of place. ‘Like any good chiropractor he pushed on it, it went pop and the patient’s hearing returned,’ said Dr Haneline. This was a unique and interesting case, but chiropractic research points to adjustments mainly being effective at correcting spinal dysfunction.
Palmer went on to develop this technique which was dubbed chiropractic (from the Greek words cheiros and praktikos meaning ‘done by hand’) and established a school to teach these methods. Since then, chiropractic has gained recognition worldwide as an alternative or complementary therapy. It has even been accepted by the US military as a valid treatment for active-duty personnel and veterans.
Qualifying as a Chiropractor
In Malaysia, chiropractic is classified under the Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM) Division of the Ministry of Health (MOH). Chiropractors in Malaysia must possess a minimum four-year bachelor’s degree in chiropractic from an approved school of chiropractic and must have completed at least one year’s housemanship. They must then register with the TCM Division of the MOH in order to practise legally.
‘In the beginning, whether you’re a doctor of medicine or dentistry or podiatry or osteopathy, all study pretty much the same subjects – the basic sciences, like pathology, anatomy, physiology and so on,’ said Dr Haneline. ‘After a while, medical students learn more about pharmacy and surgery, whereas chiropractic students focus on the structure of the body and how to treat it through adjustments.’
For students wishing to study chiropractic, Dr Haneline advises looking for a school that is well established and has good financial backing. Most importantly, ‘Make sure that the school is seeking or has attained CCE accreditation,’ Dr Haneline stated. The Councils for Chiropractic Education International (CCEI) is a global body made up of four regional CCEs that oversee chiropractic training standards in the US, Canada, Europe and Australasia. Chiropractic education in Malaysia falls under the Australasian Council.
‘Once a chiropractic school or programme has CCE accreditation it’s a no-brainer, because the CCE makes sure it has proper financial backing, the facilities are adequate, and that the faculty is of high quality,’ explained Dr Haneline, pointing out that the CCE will thoroughly review a school under its auspices, from interviewing faculty and students to making sure the library has sufficient books to support the students.
At present, there are only about 30 to 35 registered chiropractors in Malaysia, all of whom trained and qualified overseas. With the public’s growing awareness of the benefits of chiropractic, there is likely to be increased demand for qualified chiropractic professionals in the future, not only in Malaysia but worldwide.
Dr Michael T Haneline has been a practising chiropractor for nearly 30 years and is currently Head of Chiropractic at the International Medical University, Malaysia. He majored in pre-chiropractic at the University of Nebraska, and has BA and Doctor of Chiropractic degrees from the Southern California University of Health Sciences.He also has a Master of Public Health degree from the California College for Health Sciences and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chiropractic Research. Dr Haneline has authored two books and more than 80 articles on chiropractic.
This article first appeared in doctorjob CoursesNOW! Health and Sciences 2010.