My perspective on chiropractic, outlined below in 3 parts, is that of an advanced muscle therapy practitioner who has worked with many wonderful DCs in the Bay Area. We’re lucky to have them and their services.
1. How do sports medicine physicians (MD or DO) and physiotherapists view chiropractic?
This will depend heavily on which MD/DO you ask, their professional training, and the focus of their practice. Those that specialize in pain medicine are often acquainted with experienced DCs that are very skilled in helping people get out of pain very quickly. Chiropractors have a very in-depth training in musculoskeletal anatomy and physiology that enables them to understand and enlist effective therapeutic techniques that can achieve speedy relief from symptoms. The proof is in the result: does the patient feel better, or not? Although no technique is a panacea, a DC’s techniques often yield an answer of “yes.”
In my 24 years of experience, I’ve found that sometimes you need someone skilled to cavitate a joint (therapeutically manipulate the alignment of the bony tissue), or series of joints, if they are “stuck.” You have to take into account the tension and function of soft tissue as well (perhaps even primarily), but if the joint is “stuck,” it needs to be mobilized, softly and mindfully. It won’t be functional otherwise, and therapeutically, that’s the bottom line.
2. Has chiropractic managed to shake itself loose from the old Palmerian dogma of “subluxations” and the notion that “adjustments” can cure all manner of illnesses?
As far as I know, DC curriculum still includes such dogma. However, any responsible practitioner knows that no technique is a panacea, and answering on behalf of those DCs who no longer subscribe to such notions, and whom I respect, the answer is “Yes.”
Good DCs have many therapeutic techniques besides “adjustments.” When used well, they get great results in pain management.
There are many symptoms and conditions where cavitation can help provide comfort. See also this entry on Quora.com: Human Physiology: Is it okay to pop/crack your joints (knuckles/back/neck/etc.) daily?
3. How prevalent are chiropractors in sports medicine?
Again, this will depend on the area of practice and training standards. If someone is good at what they do (getting people out of pain and back to functional levels), they could be an MD, DO, PT, DC, or MT. “Therapy” is a very divergent and fluctuating field, one that has only one goal: Get Someone Better, ASAP. The trick is, the modality must be consistently effective and reproducible. As in any therapeutic field, great DCs are well-educated healers. They will most probably be at the forefront of challenging cases, providing pretty astonishing results. I’m honored to be working with some of the best of them. They continually, delightfully, surprise me and my patients with results that we can’t get from soft-tissue therapy or medications alone.