Chiropractors believe that spinal misalignments muddy up the communication between the brain, the nervous system, and the rest of the body, leading to poor health.
Chiropractic uses manipulation (adjustments) of the spine to correct these misalignments. Once proper spinal alignment is achieved, nervous system communication is restored and the patient is returned to a state of optimal health.
In a nutshell, chiropractic care reduces spinal subluxations or misalignment, which allows the body to achieve a state of optimal health.
Chiropractic Treatment For Back Pain
The National Institute of Health (NIH) classifies chiropractic as a form of complementary and alternative medicine.
Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on the relationship between the body’s structure—mainly the spine—and its functioning. Although practitioners may use a variety of treatment approaches, they primarily perform adjustments (manipulations) to the spine or other parts of the body with the goal of correcting alignment problems, alleviating pain, improving function, and supporting the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
Overview and History
The term “chiropractic” combines the Greek words cheir (hand) and praxis (practice) to describe a treatment done by hand. Hands-on therapy—especially adjustment of the spine—is central to chiropractic care. Chiropractic is based on the notion that the relationship between the body’s structure (primarily that of the spine) and its function (as coordinated by the nervous system) affects health.
While some procedures associated with chiropractic care can be traced back to ancient times, the modern profession of chiropractic was founded by Daniel David Palmer in 1895 in Davenport, Iowa. Palmer, a self-taught healer, believed that the body has “innate intelligence” or a natural healing ability. He theorized that “subluxations” (misalignments of the spine) can interfere with this ability, and that manipulation of the spine can help to restore or maintain health. Evidence-based explanations for the effects of chiropractic manipulations are the subject of ongoing scientific investigation, including studies supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
Spinal adjustment/manipulation is a core treatment in chiropractic care, but it is not synonymous with chiropractic. Chiropractors commonly use other treatments in addition to spinal manipulation, and other health care providers (e.g., physical therapists or some osteopathic physicians) may use spinal manipulation.
Use in the United States
In the United States, chiropractic is often considered part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAMA group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, and alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine.). According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included a comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, about 8 percent of American adults (more than 18 million) and nearly 3 percent of children (more than 2 million) had received chiropractic or osteopathic manipulationA type of manipulation practiced by osteopathic physicians. It is combined with physical therapy and instruction in proper posture. in the past 12 months. Additionally, an analysis of NHIS cost data found that adults in the United States spent approximately $11.9 billion out-of-pocket on CAM practitioner visits—$3.9 billion of which was spent on visits to chiropractic or osteopathic practitioners.
Many people who seek chiropractic care have low-back pain. People also commonly seek chiropractic care for other kinds of musculoskeletal pain (e.g., neck, shoulder), headaches, and extremity (e.g., hand or foot) problems.
An analysis of CAM use for back pain, based on data from the 2002 NHIS, found that chiropractic was by far the most commonly used CAM therapy for back pain. Among survey respondents who had used CAM for their back pain, 74 percent (corresponding to 4 million Americans) had used chiropractic. Among those who had used chiropractic for back pain, 66 percent perceived “great benefit” from their treatments.
During the initial visit, chiropractors typically take a health history and perform a physical examination, with a special emphasis on the spine. Other examinations or tests such as x-rays may also be performed. If chiropractic treatment is considered appropriate, a treatment plan will be developed.
During followup visits, practitioners may perform one or more of the many different types of adjustments and other manual therapies used in chiropractic care. Given mainly to the spine, a chiropractic adjustment involves using the hands or a device to apply a controlled, rapid force to a joint. The goal is to increase the range and quality of motion in the area being treated and to aid in restoring health. Joint mobilization is another type of manual therapy that may be used.
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Although considered to be an alternative medicine approach, we believe chiropractic to be very effective in managing back pain.
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