This is one of the most brilliant analogies that I have heard. I wish I could take credit for this, but sadly cannot. I have decided to share this with you, as printed, in The Wellness and Prevention Paradigm, by Dr. James Chestnut, B.Ed., M.Sc..,DC, CCWP. This passage helps to distinguish when to use the advances in modern medicine and when to use conservative, chiropractic care.
“For this analogy your mind and body are your house, medical doctors are the fire department, and lifestyle practitioners (chiropractors) are the contractors- the house maintenance and renovation experts.
Now imagine your house is on fire. It is an emergency. Who should you call, the fire department or the contractors?
I hope you said the fire department. Now what will the fire department do when your house is on fire? Well, what they do will depend on what tools they have to work with. What tools does the fire department have? The tools that they have developed are congruent with their goal to put out fires (treat disease risk factors and symptoms). What will they use these for? They will use the axes to break out all of your windows, chop down your door, and chop open your walls. They will use the hose to soak all the walls and furnishings on your home.
What is the result? If you are lucky, if they get there in time and do not make any big mistakes, they will save the life of your house. For this you should be eternally grateful. Now what is left after they have put out the fire? A HUGE mess to clean up. In fact, your house is now in far worse shape than it was before the fire ever started. Think about it, what would happen if you did not have a fire but decided to use axes and fire hoses on your house? Would this not do damage to your house? Of course it would. Now think about drugs and surgery for a second. What happens when you give a healthy person drugs or surgery? Do drugs and surgery not leave a mess, do they not damage the cells of the body and make your house less healthy? Of course they do.
So now what will you do? Who will you call to restore your house back to health, back to the state it was in before the fire (or perhaps even better shape if your house was not well maintained at the time of the fire)? Would you think it logical to call back the fire department? Do you think more axes and hoses could ever restore your house to proper function? Of course not, that is an absurd notion. Not as absurd as the fire department claiming that they could do this or that anybody else could, but nonetheless still very absurd.
So who should you call? The restoration and maintenance experts, people with the tools and knowledge regarding what materials are needed to restore your house to working order. What tools would such experts have? Hammers, nails, paint, wiring, wood, and any other material that the blueprint of the house indicated were required. The tools they have are congruent with their goal to restore and maintain the function of your house; they are the ingredients your house needs for healthy function.
Now imagine if the fire department convinced everyone, including themselves, to judge the worth of the restoration and maintenance experts according to the ability to put out fires or their legal ability to use axes and fire hoses. Obviously, the restoration and maintenance experts would look pretty incompetent trying to put out a fire with paint brushes and hammers. The fire department could, with scientific accuracy, tell everyone how incompetent the restoration and maintenance experts are at putting out fires. In fact, the fire department could demand scientific evidence from the restoration and maintenance experts to show that they could put out fires and no matter how hard they tried, the restoration experts would never be able to show they were competent at putting out fires.
But wait a minute, I hope you are thinking. What if the worth of the fire department was assessed by how well they could restore and maintain a house? They would look as incompetent at this as the restoration experts would at putting out a fire. Could you imagine the fire department showing up with axes and hoses and claiming they could improve the health and function of house? How absurd. Science would then show that no matter how often the fire department used axes and hoses, no matter how much technology they had to make new axes and hoses, they would be totally incompetent in terms of improving the health and function of houses.
What about preventing fires? Do you think showing up at a fire with axes and hoses could ever prevent a fire? Of course not. But what if they got amazing technology to detect a fire earlier and earlier so that they could break down the doors and spray the house earlier and earlier, would this ever prevent a fire?
So who is the better expert, who is more valid, who are ‘real’ doctors and who are the ‘quack doctor?’ Both are valid and real doctors and neither are quacks if you are to assess them in you own paradigm, within their own areas of expertise. The trick is to use these experts and their intervention at the appropriate times. The fire department should be a last resort and only used when there is a fire. The goal should be to NEVER need the fire department. The restoration and maintenance experts should be the last resort for a fire and the first and only resort for getting and keeping your house well. The goal should be to ALWAYS utilize them regularly, or, even better, to get them to teach you how to take care of your own house!
But what about all the fire department studies showing that they prevent fires? Well think about it for a second. If you randomly assigned 50,000 houses to each group in a randomized controlled trial and one group you sprayed down once a week with water and the other you sprayed down once a week with placebo water(air) what would the results be?
Well it depends on the questions you ask doesn’t it? The fire department would ask fire(symptom) related questions. In this case the fire department scientists would ask if spraying down the houses resulted in a statistically significant reduction in fires or fire symptoms (smoke, heat, fire, etc.). Good news – regularly spraying down houses with water results in significantly less fires and symptoms of fires. The fire department could then recommend regularly spraying down houses and claim that it prevents fires or symptoms of fires.
Are you thinking what I am thinking? Wouldn’t regularly spraying down houses with water cause them to rot? Yes it would, this is called the side effect. This does not however, erase the fact that these houses were saved from the ravages of fire. Luckily, the fire department studies do not as whether or not regularly spraying down the houses is healthy; they only ask if it can reduce fires and symptoms of fires. They also do not ask if the houses that did not get sprayed down and do not burn down live longer, happier lives. Why would they? They don’t even ask if the houses that do get sprayed down live longer, happier lives. These are not the fire-related questions. Most importantly the fire department never compares regular intervention from the renovation and maintenance experts to the regular water spraying with respect to house longevity or house health and function.”
If you are in Iowa City and your "house" is in need of some chiropractic maintenance, call Washington Street Wellness Centerand Dr. Cody Scharf, DC today at 319-466-0026!