by Sara Parsons

Sara Parsons

Between juggling a loaded class schedule, clubs, clinic, and for many of us a part-time job, imagine throwing in the mix researching position and political advocacy articles from multiple chiropractic association websites. Even the best clowns would have trouble keeping all those knives in the air.

However difficult, it is important for students to keep our chiropractic index fingers on the associations that represent our profession. I present in the following paragraphs a few players in the game; the International Chiropractors Association (ICA), the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), the International Federation of Chiropractors and Organizations (IFCO), and the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC).

In 1926, B.J. Palmer founded the Chiropractic Health Bureau (CHB). The organization held on to that name until 1941, when it became what we still call it today, the International Chiropractors Association (ICA) [1]. It is the oldest international association to make it to 2020, and was developed with the aim of “advancing the profession of chiropractic through advocacy and development” [2].

The ICA, as one might have guessed based on the individual that founded it, is an association that champions vitalistic chiropractic and aims to support and protect the philosophy of chiropractic as the keystone that supports our profession. The ICA vision statement reflects this much like a still mountain lake reflects the sky, the clouds and the trees that surround it with impeccable accuracy. The vision is to “empower humanity to optimal life expression, health and human potential through specific and scientific chiropractic care” [3]. The Mission of the ICA also supports the philosophical values; “to protect and promote chiropractic throughout the world as a distinct health care profession predicated upon its unique philosophy, science, and art of subluxation detection and correction’ [3]. It is apparent from these statements that the ICA has a philosophical foundation, views chiropractic as a unique profession unlike any other, and supports the theory of subluxation as the cause of all disease.

The ICA lists its objectives under its ‘about’ section of their website, and atop that list is the goal to “maintain and promote chiropractic’s unique identity as a vitalistic non-therapeutic, non-allopathic, drugless and surgical-free health science, based on its fundamental principles and philosophy” [3]. The rest of the list includes spreading licensure and regulation of chiropractic to every nation, working with other nations “in a global humanitarian effort” [3] to spread chiropractic around the globe, to raise the standard of professionalism and technical development, fight for medical freedom and choice, and demand non-discrimination for chiropractic in health care [3].

As mentioned above, the ICA is active in advocating for the profession and is currently tackling issues surrounding payment, coverage, and opt-out issues for medicare beneficiaries, coverage for veterans through Tri-care, and fighting for chiropractic to remain drug free [2]. Discussing the details of these issues is outside the topic of this article, but don’t worry! I plan on covering the specifics of the current bills that have been presented to the House and Senate in the following issue of Life Lines, and I promise I’ll try my best to make it interesting for those of you who don’t typically find yourself enthralled by politics.

There have been three separate chiropractic groups to call themselves the American Chiropractic Association. The first time the name was used was by the first known chiropractic organization, formed in 1905, disbanded in 1918. The second time the name was used was in 1922, when the ACA was formed in Chicago in direct opposition to the Universal Chiropractors Association founded in 1906 by B.J. Palmer (he later left the UCA in 1926 when he lost the election for secretary of the UCA, and formed the ICA as described above). When B.J. left, the UCA and ACA joined to become the National Chiropractic Association (NCA) which in turn became what we know today as the ACA in 1963 [1]

The ACA is currently the largest professional chiropractic organization in the United States. Their mission is “to inspire and empower our members to elevate the health and wellness of their communities” [4] with a vision to “[lead] a modern movement of chiropractic care based on higher standards and focus on patient outcomes’ outcomes” [5]. They state their values as patient centered, focused on evidence-based care, service in the best interest of public health, and focus on collaboration and integration with other professions in the health care community [5]. The ACA’s focus is on evidence- based care, patient outcomes, and public health initiatives. The ACA is heavily involved with lobbying, supporting research, and creating networks with other health professions to best serve patients.

Remember those bills mentioned above currently being presented to the House and the Senate with regards to (shout out Dr. Straub) Medicare, Tri-care, and the question of prescription drugs being integrated under the Chiropractic scope of practice? You guessed it, the ACA is heavily involved with lobbying on all three topics.

There is a divide in our profession that has existed since the early 1900s. On one hand there are those that think the profession should keep at its center the philosophy upon which it was developed, that our profession is separate and distinct as long as we keep it by hand only, focused on the detection and removal of subluxation. On the other hand there are those who believe we the best way to progress and develop the profession is to use chiropractic only for what modern science has shown it is effective in treating, and incorporate chiropractic into the already established health care field working alongside others in an integrative way to reduce neck and low back pain. It is important to figure out your vision of the future of Chiropractic, find the association that has the same vision, join that association, and fight for the chiropractic you think is best. The squeaky wheel gets greased, and the only way to make a change is to stand up and say something.



[1] Hug, PR. 50 years of Accomplishment. The American Chiropractic Association Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary in 2013. ACA News [Internet]. Jan/Feb 2013 [cited Dec 7 2020]; 21-23. Available from

[2] Overview of ICA’s Advocacy Efforts [Internet]. [cited 7 Dec 2020]. Available from

[3] About ICA: Building a Strong Tomorrow for Chiropractors Worldwide [Internet]. Last Revised 27 Sep 2019 [cited 7 Dec 2020]. Available from

[4] American Chiropractic Association: About [Internet]. 2020 [cited 9 Dec 2020]. Available from

[5] American Chiropractic Association: Mission & Vision [Internet]. 2020 [cited 9 Dec 2020]. Available from