What Is Chiropractic?

Taking A Natural Systemic Approach To Healing

Chiropractic is an overall way of looking at the human body. It's based on the idea that the body is self-sustaining and self-healing. The body is in essence completely controlled by the brain through its connection via the spinal cord and the vast networks of nerves that make up the body. When this system is not functioning at its peak, the overall performance of the human body is lacking.

In the chiropractic world, drugs and medicine are not utilized as a form of treating a patient. While supplementation and nutrition are almost always a part of the bigger picture, drugs and prescriptions can be viewed as band-aids to treat symptoms rather than going to the source and treating the real problem.

While it's often perceived that the chiropractor is solely here to treat back and neck pain, this is simply a small piece of what the profession really is capable of handling. Chiropractors not only treat soft and hard tissue problems such as sciatica and joint pain, but are largely called on to deal with more significant issues. Some of these issues include fibromyalgia, allergies, insomnia, headaches and many more.

Chiropractors are qualified and used more for primary care and wellness - not just for back pain anymore.

Almost everyone knows someone who's been to a chiropractor for back pain, but that's just a small part of what chiropractors do. Chiropractors – often considered complementary or alternative medicine practitioners – are primary care doctors who focus on good health through proper nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle factors. Although the profession is more than 100 years old and more than 18 million Americans have sought chiropractic care, much remains to be done to inform the public about the profession.

The chiropractic philosophy is based on the idea that when nerves emerging from the spinal cord are compromised – known as a “subluxation” – the affected individual might experience pain, disability, and an overall decrease in the quality of life. A chiropractor uses a spinal adjustment or manipulation to try to restore normal nerve function, paving the way for the body to heal itself.

The practice of chiropractic deals with the nervous and musculoskeletal systems and their interrelationship with other body systems. Chiropractors take the diagnosis of conditions and disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system and consider how they relate to or are caused by subluxations, misalignments (often of the bones and cushioning discs in the spine), and joint dysfunctions. They can either try to help the body correct these conditions or offer a patient advice on getting treatment from other health professionals.

Although back pain is the No. 1 reason people give for visiting chiropractors, other musculoskeletal pain (neck and shoulder), a desire for improved athletic performance, and headaches are areas that have been shown, through evidence-based research, to derive the most benefits from chiropractic intervention. There's evidence that chiropractic care enhances the immune system, and researchers are also looking at chiropractic treatment for high blood pressure. In fact, the education and training chiropractors receive is similar in many ways to the course of study followed by allopathic (M.D.) and osteopathic (D.O.) doctors, but chiropractors use no medicines or surgery. A chiropractor may use manual aal techniques, heat, cold, ultrasound, light (e.g., infrared), water, traction, decompression, taping, and rehabilitative exercises, in addition to low-velocity or high-velocity manipulations or adjustments of the spine. Chiropractors are increasingly in practice with or working in consultation with M.D.s or D.O.s specializing in neurosurgery, orthopedics, and physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Today, chiropractic is recognized by many established medical groups, including the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health. The NIH's Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has funded research on chiropractic, and the Department of Defense is funding the largest-ever chiropractic study. Its purpose is to examine the impact of chiropractic treatment on back pain; strength, balance, and injury prevention; and smoking cessation among the armed forces, along with studying the effects on reflexes and reaction times for special operations forces.

Chiropractic care is reimbursed by many private insurance companies as well as government health care programs, including Medicare and workers' compensation.

Chiropractors can be general practitioners, but they can also specialize in:

Acupuncture – A family of procedures that stimulate points on the body using a variety of techniques. The technique that is most commonly used and has been studied scientifically uses thin needles inserted into the skin that are manipulated by hand or with electricity. 

Diagnostic Imaging (Radiology) – The interpretation of X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) to assess the condition and location of bones and tissue inside the body. 

General Practice – This type of chiropractor is like an internal medicine, family practice, or pediatric physician who can oversee a patient's overall health. Chiropractors refer patients for conditions they are unable to help. 

Neurology – This specialty is concerned with the brain, spinal cord, & nerves. 

Nutrition – All chiropractors are knowledgeable about nutrition and its effects on health, but this subspecialist has completed additional education and certification. 

Occupational Health – This specialty focuses on the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs that maintain and enhance employee health, improve safety, and increase productivity. 

Orthopedics – Orthopedic chiropractors focus on the prevention and correction of disorders and conditions of the bones and associated muscles, joints, and ligaments. 

Pediatrics – About 3 percent of American children had seen a chiropractor in the past year, according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. 

Physiological Therapeutics & Rehabilitation – Whether the body has been damaged from a sports injury, a stroke, or a motor vehicle accident, these specialists can help with returning it to optimal function. 

Sports – Proper body mechanics, strategies to increase athletic performance, and help with injuries are an important part of this specialty's practice.

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