Chiropractic Medicine

What is chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a form of therapeutic manipulation that focuses on the relationship between the spinal column and the nervous system. It is based on the philosophy that to experience optimal health, nerve impulses must be able to flow through the body without obstruction. These impulses become obstructed when the vertebrae in the spine are not aligned due to a number of reasons ranging from bad posture to an injury, and it the purpose of a chiropractor to re-align the spine to allow the nerve impulses to flow freely.

Chiropractic is one of the most popular forms of complementary medicine and can be used to treat a wide range of health issues such as back pain, and headaches.

What is the history of chiropractic?

Spinal manipulation has been around since ancient times, and has been used for thousands of years in China, India, Egypt, Rome and Greece and ancient cultures such as the Inca, the Maya and the Aztecs, and Native Americans were aware of the importance of proper spinal alignment and incorporated them into their health practices.

Chiropractic as it exists today was developed by a Canadian man by the name of Daniel D. Palmer in 1895. Palmer believed that adjusting the spine could lead to health benefits, and he tested his theories on his janitor, a man who had gone blind after a back injury. After Palmer's manipulation, the man, who had been deaf for 17 years, was able to hear again. The term "chiropractic" was coined a few years later from the ancient Greek words for "doing by hand."

Chiropractic became popular throughout North America, Australia and New Zealand during the 20th century. Today, chiropractic is widely accepted by millions of people worldwide as a treatment for many conditions.

What is the theory behind chiropractic?

Chiropractic is based on the theory that the body has a powerful self-healing ability, and that the structure of the body affects its function in a way that is important to maintaining health. Chiropractors believe that the spine is the most important element in the system, and serves as a "communication highway" between the brain sending out neural impulses to the body. If the spine is not aligned correctly the body's own healing system won't be able to work properly.

What happens in a chiropractic session?

The chiropractor will begin by going over your medical history to uncover any issues that may need to be addressed. The chiropractor might ask about lifestyle, diet, job and any alcohol use, and observe posture while sitting, standing and walking.

The chiropractor will then have you sit or lie on a specialized chiropractic table, and will correct the alignment of your back, skull and pelvis through a series of controlled movements called "adjustments."

These adjustments are usually painless, though some immediate pain sometimes comes with the adjustment. However, the pain goes away quickly.

Along with the spinal manipulation, chiropractors often practice acupuncturehomeopathy, and the use of dietary supplements.

Sessions usually last 15-20 minutes and depending on the condition, can occur as many times as a few times a week, or once every few months.

What are the benefits of chiropractic?

Chiropractic manipulation can be used as a preventative health tool for healthy individuals, or it can be used as a restorative practice for a specific condition. It is most commonly used for lower back pain, headaches and migraines, menstrual cramps, addiction and emotional issues such as mild depression.

The National Institute of Health has performed a number of studies on the effectiveness of chiropractic, with positive results.

How do I find a chiropractor?

Chiropractors work mainly in primary care facilities. Ask your medical provider for a referral, or visit the American Chiropractic Association's doctor search.

Chiropractic visits are one of the few complementary and alternative therapies that are covered under many insurance plans, so costs are generally reasonable.



Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine. Time, Inc.

Encyclopedia of Healing Therapies by Anne Woodham and Dr. David Peters.

Alternative Healing: The Complete A-Z Guide to more than 150 Alternative Therapies by Mark Kastner, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., and Hugh Burroughs. Henry Holt and Company: 1996.

National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine