What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a natural form of health care. It focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems and the effects these disorders have on general health. Chiropractic is a drug- and surgery-free, hands-on system of health care that respects the body’s ability to heal itself.

For more than 100 years, chiropractic care has been the choice for millions of patients who want safe and effective health care without the use of surgery or drugs. Chiropractors – also called doctors of chiropractic or chiropractic physicians – use natural methods to treat the bio mechanics, structure, and function of the spine and its effects on the muscle and nervous systems. Chiropractic emphasizes the role played by the proper function of these systems in the preservation and restoration of health.

Chiropractors also concentrate on the factors involved in a patient’s overall health, including diet and proper nutrition, activity levels and exercise, other lifestyle choices, and much more.

What is a “Subluxation?”

A subluxation – also known as “nerve interference” – is the misalignment of vertebrae in the spinal column. When a subluxation occurs, it often affects the function of the nervous system, which may have a negative effect on quality of life.

Chiropractic Adjustment

Chiropractors typically care for subluxations with a procedure known as a “chiropractic adjustment.” This hands-on technique for restoring spinal and other joint mobility is performed by manually applying a controlled force to joints that have either become too restricted in their movement or too mobile, as a result of a tissue injury.

By realigning the affected vertebrae through a chiropractic adjustment, the chiropractor eliminates this nerve interference and proper bodily function is restored.

What Conditions Are Helped By Chiropractic?

Chiropractors diagnose injuries and other conditions of the nervous and musculoskeletal system and care for patients with pain, such as: back and neck pain; tension, cluster, migraine and other headaches; sciatica; and joint pain. Chiropractic also is shown to improve osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, sprains and strains, postural issues, and a variety of other non-neuromusculoskeletal conditions, all without the use of surgery or drugs. It is appropriate care for all ages.

The most common injuries treated with chiropractic care include on-the-job injuries, sports injuries, and auto accidents. However, regular chiropractic care has also been shown to be helpful in maintaining general health and well-being and increasing vitality.

Is Chiropractic Safe?

Chiropractic spinal adjustments are extremely safe when performed by chiropractors. In fact, chiropractic adjustments are among the safest treatments for most back and neck problems – much safer in fact than other common treatments for musculoskeletal pain like prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

The American Journal of Medicine reported on studies that investigated the risks between spinal adjustments and other treatments for the same conditions. One analysis concluded there was no evidence that NSAIDs were any more effective than spinal manipulation, but the risk of serious complications or death was between 100 and 400 times greater. In another review, estimates of serious gastrointestinal events from NSAIDs were 1 per 1,000 patients, whereas complications of cervical manipulations were 5 to 10 per 10 million adjustments.

Chiropractic for Children

Chiropractic care is safe for children and can provide a beneficial foundation on health and overall fitness from newborn to adult stages. Children are very physically active and experience many types of falls and blows from activities of daily living. These injuries can cause a variety of symptoms, including back and neck pain, discomfort, sprains, strains, and more.

Chiropractors help children using adjustments and other forms of manual, natural care. Chiropractors have improved many of the same ailments as other pediatric health care providers, including: respiratory problems like asthma or allergies; ear, nose and throat problems, such as otitis media; and other problems like common childhood injuries, torticollis, infantile colic and bedwetting.

Not every child or condition will respond to conservative chiropractic care and your chiropractor is fully educated and trained to recognize when a referral to a more appropriate health care provider may be needed.

Chiropractic for Senior Citizens

The first members of the Baby Boom Generation have already turned 60. As the number of people living longer continues to increase dramatically, chiropractors are on the forefront of care for our elder population.

Geriatric patients often respond very positively to the gentle, hands-on approach of chiropractic care. Older patients suffer from structural problems that often respond very well to chiropractic intervention. Regular chiropractic adjustments can relieve spinal and extremity pain, decrease stiffness, increase range of motion, decrease spinal stress and degeneration, as well as arthritic conditions and inflammation, and enhance tissue healing.

Additionally, chiropractic can increase balance and coordination, decreasing the likelihood of falls, one of the leading problems facing seniors, because an injury resulting from a fall can cause permanent disability. Chiropractic can help prevent falls, leading to many additional years of productive living.

Chiropractic Education

Completion of a Doctor of Chiropractic degree requires four to five years of professional coursework. The education of a chiropractor is similar in total classroom hours to that of a medical doctor. An average of 4,822 hours is required in chiropractic schools, compared to 4,667 hours in medical schools.

Basic science courses comprise nearly 30 percent of the total hours in both chiropractic and medical school programs, and the two programs have comparable hours in biochemistry, microbiology and pathology. Chiropractors receive more training in anatomy and physiology, while medical doctors receive more training in public health.

The 4,822 hours of classroom instruction in chiropractic school include 1,416 hours in basic science, 1,975 hours in diagnostic and treatment methods, and 1,431 hours in clinical internship.

Chiropractic colleges focus on chiropractic principles, diagnosis, orthopedics, physiologic therapeutics and nutrition. Three areas – adjustive techniques/spinal analysis, physical/clinical laboratory diagnosis, and diagnostic imaging – account for more than half of the education in clinical sciences. During their internship, chiropractors complete two years of hands-on clinical experience focusing on adjustment as the primary procedure. The emphasis in chiropractic clinical sciences is clearly on diagnosis and adjustive technique.

Clinical Competency

A chiropractic graduate must pass national licensing board examinations before receiving a license to practice. The multi-part examination is comprised of written and practical clinical sections. The top goals in administering standardized exams are the promotion of high standards of competence and assistance to the state licensing agencies in assessing competence.

©Information provided by the Michigan Association of Chiropractors.