Chiropractic is a drug- and surgery-free, hands-on system of health care that respects the body’s ability to heal itself. For more than 100 years, chiropractic care has focused on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems and the effects these systems have on general health. Chiropractic is THE choice for millions of patients who want safe and effective health care – without the use of surgery or drugs.
Chiropractors – also called doctors of chiropractic or chiropractic physicians – use natural methods to treat the biomechanics, structure, and function of the spine and its effects on the muscle and nervous systems. Chiropractic emphasizes the role played by the proper function of these systems in the preservation and restoration of health.
Chiropractors also concentrate on the factors involved in a patient’s overall health, including diet and proper nutrition, activity levels and exercise, other lifestyle choices, and much more.
A subluxation – also known as “nerve interference” – is the misalignment of vertebrae in the spinal column. When a subluxation occurs, it often affects the function of the nervous system, which may have a negative effect on quality of life.
Chiropractors typically care for subluxations with a procedure known as a “chiropractic adjustment.” Also known as “spinal manipulation,” this hands-on technique for restoring spinal and other joint mobility is performed by manually applying a controlled force to joints that have either become too restricted in their movement or too mobile, as a result of a tissue injury. By realigning the affected vertebrae through a chiropractic adjustment, the chiropractor eliminates this nerve interference and proper bodily function is restored.
As a conservative, drug- and surgery-free form of health care, chiropractic spinal adjustments are extremely safe when performed by chiropractors. Chiropractic adjustments are among the safest treatments for most back and neck problems – much safer in fact than other common treatments for musculoskeletal pain, such as prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
It is important to note that not every condition will respond to conservative chiropractic care, and your chiropractor is fully educated and trained to recognize when a referral to a more appropriate health care provider may be needed.
Chiropractors are educated and trained to act as portal-of-entry, primary care physicians, focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to the musculoskeletal system (the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the spine and extremities) and the nerves that supply them.
Completion of a Doctor of Chiropractic degree requires four to five years of professional coursework. The education of a chiropractor is similar in total classroom hours to that of a medical doctor. An average of 4,822 hours is required in chiropractic schools, compared to 4,667 hours in medical schools.
Chiropractic colleges focus on chiropractic principles, diagnosis, orthopedics, physiologic therapeutics and nutrition. Three areas – adjustive techniques/spinal analysis, physical/clinical laboratory diagnosis, and diagnostic imaging – account for more than half of the education in clinical sciences.
During their internship, chiropractors complete two years of hands-on clinical experience focusing on adjustment as the primary procedure. The emphasis in chiropractic clinical sciences is clearly on diagnosis and adjustive technique.
A chiropractic graduate must pass national licensing board examinations before receiving a license to practice. The multi-part examination is comprised of written and practical clinical sections and is equivalent to the medical examination. These national, standardized exams promote high standards of competence and assist state licensing agencies in assessing competence.
Chiropractors diagnose injuries and other conditions of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, which includes the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the spine and the extremities. Chiropractors treat patients of all ages with pain, such as:
- Back and neck pain
- Tension, cluster, migraine, and other headaches
- Joint pain
Chiropractors treat patients of all ages with conditions such as osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, sprains and strains, postural issues, and a variety of other non-neuromusculoskeletal conditions, all without the use of surgery or drugs.
Chiropractors also have great success in treating on-the-job injuries, sports injuries, and injuries associated with auto accidents.
Chiropractic care is not just for patients with pain, however. Chiropractors – with their patient-centered, whole person approach – are the ultimate wellness doctors. Regular chiropractic care has been shown to be helpful in maintaining general health and well-being and increasing vitality.
Chiropractic care is safe for children and can provide a beneficial foundation of health and overall fitness. Physically active young children experience falls and bumps in the course of everyday living, which can result in a variety of symptoms, including back and neck pain, discomfort, sprains, strains, and more. Older kids who participate in organized sports can also experience these symptoms. Chiropractors help children using adjustments and other forms of manual, natural care. Chiropractors have improved many of the same ailments as other pediatric health care providers, including:
- Respiratory problems like asthma or allergies
- Ear, nose, and throat problems, such as otitis media
- Other problems like common childhood injuries, torticollis, infantile colic, scoliosis, and bedwetting
Yes. Chiropractors are on the forefront of care for our elderly population. Geriatric patients often respond very positively to the gentle, hands-on approach of chiropractic care. Older patients suffer from structural problems that often respond very well to chiropractic intervention. Regular chiropractic adjustments can relieve spinal and extremity pain, decrease stiffness, increase range of motion, decrease spinal stress and degeneration, as well as arthritic conditions and inflammation, and enhance tissue healing. Additionally, chiropractic can increase balance and coordination, decreasing the likelihood of falls, one of the leading problems facing seniors, because an injury resulting from a fall can cause permanent disability. Chiropractic can help prevent falls, leading to many additional years of productive living.
Each insurance company is different, but several cover chiropractic care. To be sure, you should check your policy or contact your health insurer. Once you have determined if your insurer covers chiropractic, contact the chiropractor you want to see and make sure they participate with your insurance.
Your first visit will start with a patient history and then a physical examination. This will help the chiropractor develop a working diagnosis for your condition. It is possible that your chiropractor will take an x-ray to confirm that diagnosis. Once a diagnosis is made, your chiropractor will assess whether or not chiropractic care is appropriate. If not, he or she will refer you to another health care provider. Your chiropractor will explain your condition, develop a treatment plan, and discuss with you the possible risks and benefits of the treatment plan.