Many people think of chiropractors as merely back doctors. In reality, the chiropractic profession is built on the belief that spinal alignment affects the health of the whole body. Therefore, a chiropractor will treat your spine in order to bring about a variety of health benefits. This article introduces chiropractic and chiropractors.
Chiropractic is an alternative medicine discipline based on the view that health is the effect of the spine on the functioning of the body. Because a good part of the nervous system
passes through and branches out from the spinal column
, any misalignment (subluxation
) is bound to affect its function.
Chiropractors treat pinched nerves, chronic low back pain, arthritis, and other conditions. Chiropractic is considered to be manual medicine -- chiropractors make a commitment to surgery-free, drugless patient care. A 2002 survey conducted by Centers for Disease Control found chiropractic to be the fifth most used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatment, after prayer, meditation, deep breathing and use of natural products.
As a CAM
profession, chiropractic is sometimes scrutinized by members of conventional medicine. While research on chiropractic is certainly growing, there are still unanswered questions about its effectiveness and safety. As with any choice of doctor
, it is wise to be aware of the licensing and educational requirements of the chiropractic profession. Determine if a chiropractor you're considering meets these requirements and assess his or her approach to patient care.
Chiropractors are licensed by your state, after passing a national exam. They are also regulated by the state, usually by a group called the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Chiropractors complete a minimum of 4 years of advanced training in their field.
The chiropractic view of health, which is based on spinal alignment
, is unique. The main thrust of chiropractors' work is to apply a calculated force to spinal joints to cause a change in alignment and, therefore, the functioning of the nervous system. This, in turn, affects the overall health of the individual. Because their view of health is unique, chiropractors have a set of terms all their own for describing the pathology
of the spine.
Chiropractic got its start in 1895 when a self-taught healer named David Palmer sought a drugless cure for disease. To develop his objective, Palmer turned to the ancient art of manual medicine
. Palmer claimed that many health problems were caused when misaligned vertebra
impinged on spinal nerves
With the use of medical histories and neurological and posture exams, chiropractors diagnose the misalignment of the spinal bones (subluxations). They also may use x-Rays and lab tests. They use a thrusting motion of their hands, called adjustments, to address the problems found in their examinations.
A leg length difference
is a common reason many people seek the services of a chiropractor. In this article, chiropractor, Dr. James Lehman discusses low back pain due to a leg length inequality from a chiropractor's perspective.
A 2005 study showed that chiropractic is more cost-effective than medical treatment for chronic low back pain. The study was published in October 2005 by the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics
and reveals that, while both treatment types cost about the same, chiropractic care results in better outcomes for patients.
While the chiropractic profession's mission is rooted in treatment of general health problems, for the most part, these professionals have been limited by public perception of how effective addressing problems of the spine is. In a possible breakthrough for the mission, a preliminary study done in 2007 at the University of Chicago linked a specific type of chiropractic called NUCCA, which adjusts only the very first vertebra
, with a reduction in need for blood pressure medication in 25 patients. Follow up studies are likely to take place in 2008.