State board struggles to define what can chiropractors legally do

Published: 2010-07-11 14:30:42
Author: Mary Ann Roser | AMERICAN-STATESMAN | April 3, 2010

Dr. Genene Prado of Georgetown runs full-page newspaper ads claiming that she does laser treatments in which her patients "lose inches of fat" with "no surgery, no dieting, no exercise and no sweat." In other ads, she touts her expertise at helping diabetics whom she says may have been mishandled by other doctors.

Prado is a chiropractor.

Chiropractors are increasingly seizing on two trends in health care: new technology such as lasers and the obesity epidemic, which is fueling a growing number of Americans with type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition commonly seen in overweight people. But in expanding their range of treatment, some of them are coming into conflict with doctors, who consider those areas their turf leaving state regulatory boards, courts and lawmakers to referee who is allowed to do what to a patient.

In Texas, the state board that regulates chiropractors is embroiled in a lawsuit with the Texas Medical Board and the state's largest doctors' organization, the Texas Medical Association, over other treatments done by chiropractors that the doctors' groups say cross into their domain.

Separately, the chiropractic board aware of ads by Prado and other chiropractors recently began looking into whether a chiropractor should be allowed to treat diabetes and use lasers for body shaping. Board staffers are investigating and will report to the full board later this year, said Glenn Parker, the executive director.

Chiropractors in Texas can use lasers and treat painful conditions as long as the care relates back to the musculoskeletal system, the spine or its nerves, Parker said. The law forbids them from doing surgery, using radiation to treat patients or prescribing drugs.

Using a laser for weight loss or trimming fat "seems to be cosmetic in nature," Parker said, "... but I have to see what they're saying to the patient."

Prado uses the Zerona laser to break down fat cells in the body, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream. The Zerona is called a "cold laser" because it does not cut through the skin. Her ads include the headline, "I lost 14 Inches With The Zerona Laser!"

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