Mint Tea in a Fisherman’s Cave and Back Pain in 5 Languages

Once you are a chiropractor, even on your holidays it is difficult to escape discussions about back pain. People always want to tell you about their experiences of visits to various chiropractors, physiotherapists or osteopaths. Back pain is just one of those common ailments that most people will have experienced. In fact they say around 80% of people will experience an episode of back pain in their lifetime.

Last week I left the sunny climate of Leeds for a holiday to Morocco. I was somewhat surprised to find myself discussing chiropractic with a fisherman in a cave, all over a mint tea. Bizarre I know. Bear in mind that the discussion was going on in several languages, namely Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish due to both of ours limited grasp of each other’s native tongue but nevertheless I think I got the gist of it.

It turns out that Mustafa, the said fisherman, is something of a local celebrity and his skill are not just limited to fishing. When not sleeping in a cave and fishing the Atlantic from a precarious position atop of a cliff he also works as a healer. Translation got a bit tricky at this point but I think he had trained in Casablanca with a respected Kinesiologist. Kinesiology or Applied Kinesiology has its roots in chiropractic but is practiced today by a wide range if professions including medical doctors, nurses and physiotherapists and manual therapists. It is essentially muscle testing to identify various weaknesses in the body. Once identified, different therapists may use different techniques to correct the weakness, including joint manipulation as practised by myself and many other chiropractors.

Mustafa was describing to me the different people he has helped over the years with a wide-range of health complaints. Today we live in a world of evidence-based medicine where any claims of helping certain conditions must be backed up by robust scientific evidence. The role of evidence-based medicine in manual therapy is a discussion for another day but I just thought it interesting that in a country steeped in tradition such as Morocco there were still some similarities between our beliefs.

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