What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.
Doctors of Chiropractic – often referred to as chiropractors or chiropractic physicians – practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.
The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as "spinal manipulation," also called "chiropractic adjustment." The purpose of manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypomobile – or restricted in their movement – as a result of a tissue injury. Manipulation, or adjustment of the affected joint and tissues, restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and allowing tissues to heal.
The roots of chiropractic care can be traced all the way back to the beginning of recorded time. Writings from China and Greece written in 2700 B.C. and 1500 B.C. mention spinal manipulation and the maneuvering of the lower extremities to ease low back pain. Hippocrates, the Greek physician, who lived from 460 to 357 B.C., also published texts detailing the importance of chiropractic care. In one of his writings he declares, "Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases".
In the United States, the practice of spinal manipulation began gaining momentum in the late nineteenth century. In 1895, Daniel David Palmer founded the Chiropractic profession in Davenport, Iowa. Palmer was well read in medical journals of his time and had great knowledge of the developments that were occurring throughout the world regarding anatomy and physiology.
Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions.
The typical applicant at a chiropractic college has already acquired nearly four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education, including courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related lab work. Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college the requirements become even more demanding — four to five academic years of professional study are the standard. Because of the hands-on nature of chiropractic, and the intricate adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is spent in clinical training.
Doctors of chiropractic — who are licensed to practice in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in many nations around the world — undergo a rigorous education in the healing sciences, similar to that of medical doctors. In some areas, such as anatomy, physiology, and rehabilitation, they receive more intensive education than most medical doctors or physical therapists. In the state of Oregon chiropractic physicians are considered primary care providers and do not need a referral from a medical doctor.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic physicians are renowned for their ability to help those injured in an auto accident or other trauma. However, chiropractic care is also effective in the treatment of most common musculoskeletal conditions such as scoliosis, headaches, TMD, rotator cuff strains, osteoarthritis, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, knee pain and plantar fascitis. In addition, some research has suggested that chiropractic care may also be helpful with some non-musculoskeletal conditions such as sinusitis, constipation, hypertension, bed-wetting and more. This is attributed to the increased flow of nerve energy following a chiropractic adjustment. Chiropractic care is not only safe but also very cost effective when compared with other forms of treatment for these and other conditions.
Initial Chiropractic visit
On your first visit to the chiropractor you will be interviewed about your health history in order to gain insight to the possible cause of the ailment. You will then be given a thorough examination of your muscular, skeletal and nervous system to determine which areas of the body are affected. Typically, a treatment will be given following the examination unless the diagnosis indicates the need for other medical attention. The first visit usually takes about forty-five to sixty minutes depending on the complexity of the ailment. Follow up visits typically last between twenty to thirty minutes.
Your chiropractor will put their hands over your misaligned vertebrae and will shift it back to its natural position. After your initial diagnostic session, a series of treatments will be conducted. In addition to the adjustment the chiropractor may also utilize modalities such as massage and physiotherapy. Chiropractors believe that when the proper care of the spine is neglected, the body becomes susceptible to disease and disorders. Consistency of care is vital for the treatment of the ailment. Missed visits may delay the healing process and may also decrease the benefits of chiropractic care.
Is Chiropractic Treatment Safe?
There are some risks associated with chiropractic, however they are very small. Many patients usually feel immediate relief following the first treatment, but some may occasionally experience mild soreness, similar to that following some form of exercise. Current literature shows that this soreness typically fades away within 24 hours.
Do Your Research
If you are considering chiropractic care, talk with your family, friends, co-workers, or acquaintances. If you are still not sure if chiropractic care is for you call a chiropractor, most offer free consultations. This is usually the best source of information.
Andrew Zurek, DC