Chiropractors, known as Doctors of Chiropractic or chiropractic doctors/physicians in some jurisdictions, use a combination of treatments which are predicated on the specific needs of the individual patient. A chiropractor can develop and carry out a comprehensive treatment/management plan which can include spinal adjustments, soft tissue therapy, prescription of exercises, and health and lifestyle counseling. While the core concept of practice is based on healing without drugs or surgery, patients may commonly expect:
- A thorough physical examination to determine conditions which may be appropriate for chiropractic care.
- To be referred to another health care provider for conditions which are not appropriate for chiropractic care.
- To understand the type of care to be administered, and what results may be expected.
- Discussion with the doctor as the care continues, to evaluate both treatment effectiveness and projected duration.
- A clear understanding of financial arrangements.
- Appropriate, ethical care delivered in confidence, with respect for privacy and dignity.
D.D. Palmer gave the first spinal adjustment to a deaf janitor, Harvey Lillard, on September 18, 1895, reportedly resulting in a restoration of the man’s hearing. Palmer had discovered that manual manipulation of the spine could result in improved neurological function. Friend and Rev. Samuel Weed suggested combining the words cheiros and praktikos (meaning “done by hand”) and chiropractic was born. Palmer claimed that vertebral joint misalignments, which he termed “Subluxations” interfered with the body’s function and its inborn ability to heal itself. This concept was later expanded upon by his son, B.J. Palmer.
Chiropractic is the fastest-growing and second-largest primary health care profession. According to Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards there are approximately 81,000 doctors of chiropractic (DC’s) in active practice in the United States spread from rural areas to inner cities. More than 10,000 students are currently enrolled in chiropractic educational programs accredited by a federally-recognized body (CCE). The ratio of DC’s to the general population, based on the Bureau of the Census figures is estimated to be one doctor of chiropractic for every 5,100 citizens. This compares dramatically to the ratio of medical providers to the general population as there are well over ten times more MD’s than DC’s. Thus the MD to general population ratio is approximately one to every 430 citizens.
A 2007 study of 50 276 chiropractic manipulations of the cervical spine which turned up no reports of serious adverse effects. The authors concluded that the risk of serious adverse effects was, at worst, 6 per 100,000 manipulations. The most common minor side effect was fainting, dizziness, and/or light-headedness, which occurred after, at worst, 16 in 1,000 treatments. (Thiel HW, Bolton JE, Docherty S, Portlock JC (2007). “Safety of chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine: a prospective national survey”. Spine 32 (21): 2375–8.)
According to the World Health Organization “employed skillfully and appropriately, chiropractic care is safe and effective for the prevention and management of a number of health problems.”
Chiropractic services are in high demand. Tens of millions of Americans routinely opt for chiropractic services and this number is rapidly growing. In 1993, more than 30 million people made chiropractic a regular part of their health care program.
Chiropractors have Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degrees granted to them from chiropractic colleges. To receive the doctor of chiropractic degree, candidates must complete extensive undergraduate prerequisites and four years of graduate-level instruction and internship at an accredited chiropractic institution. Comprehensive knowledge of all systems of the body and diagnostic procedures enable the DC to thoroughly evaluate a patient, address disorders relating to the spine and determine the need for referral to another health care provider.
No. Doctors of Chiropractic are primary health care providers. According to the Center for Studies in Health Policy, “The DC can provide all three levels of primary care interventions and therefore is a primary care provider, as are MD’s and DOs. The doctor of chiropractic is a gatekeeper to the health care system and an independent practitioner who provides primary care services. The DC’s office is a direct access portal of entry to the full scope of service.”
Yes. Doctors of Chiropractic are licensed in all 50 states. DC’s have been licensed and recognized for many decades in all states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Chiropractic is recognized by governmental health care programs. Chiropractic is included in Medicare, Medicaid, Federal Employees Health Care Benefits Programs, Federal Workers’ Compensation and all state workers’ compensation programs. Chiropractic students are qualified to receive federal student loan assistance and DC’s are authorized to be commissioned as health care officers in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Doctors of chiropractic provide effective, low-cost health care for a wide range of conditions. Compared to alternatives such as medication and surgery, chiropractic care is quite inexpensive.
The doctor of chiropractic can treat a wide range of conditions and is an effective source of preventative and wellness care. The anatomical focus of the DC on the human spine has created the perception of the DC as just a “back doctor.” Although this perception is not entirely incorrect, it is very much incomplete. Doctors of chiropractic are a highly appropriate resource in matters of work-place safety, neck problems, stress management, injury prevention, and postural correction.
Chiropractors provide effective treatment for all types of soft tissue disorders and not just back and neck ailments. This includes conditions of the joints of the extremities like the ankle, knee and shoulder. What you may not be aware of is chiropractic’s success in treating a number of non-soft tissue conditions like dysmenorrhea (painful menses), ulcers, migraine headaches, and ear infections in children. While we cannot claim to cure these conditions, we believe that many of these problems can be mimicked, aggravated and some times caused by disruptions in the nervous system as a result of spinal abnormalities. By correcting these spinal abnormalities like the vertebral subluxation, chiropractic has helped thousands of individuals overcome these conditions and regain control of their lives.
In simplest terms, a subluxation (a.k.a. Vertebral Subluxation) is when one or more of the bones of your spine (vertebrae) move out of position and create pressure on, or irritate spinal nerves. Spinal nerves are the nerves that come out from between each of the bones in your spine. This pressure or irritation on the nerves then causes those nerves to malfunction and interfere with the signals traveling over those nerves.
How does this affect you? Your nervous system controls and coordinates all the functions of your body. If you interfere with the signals traveling over nerves, parts of your body will not get the proper nerve messages and will not be able to function at 100% of their innate abilities. In other words, some part of your body will not be working properly.
It is the responsibility of the Doctor of Chiropractic to locate subluxations, and reduce or correct them. This is done through a series of chiropractic adjustments specifically designed to correct the vertebral subluxations in your spine. Chiropractors are the only professionals who undergo years of training to be the experts at correcting subluxations.
The Detailed Explanation:
Subluxations are really a combination of changes going on at the same time. These changes occur both in your spine and throughout your body. For this reason chiropractors often refer to vertebral subluxations as the “Vertebral Subluxation Complex”, or “VSC” for short.
In the VSC, various things are happening inside your body simultaneously. These various changes, known as “components,” are all part of the vertebral subluxation complex. Chiropractors commonly recognize four categories of components present in the VSC. These four are:
- The osseous (bone) component is where the vertebrae are either out of position, not moving properly, or are undergoing physical changes such as degeneration. This component is sometimes known as kinesiopathology.
- The nerve component is the malfunctioning of the nerve. Research has shown that only a small amount of pressure on spinal nerves can have a profound impact on the function of the nerves. This component is scientifically known as neuropathology.
- The muscle component is also involved. Since the muscles help hold the vertebrae in place, and because nerves control the muscles themselves, muscles are an integral part of any VSC. In fact, muscles both affect, and are affected by the VSC. This component is known as myopathology.
- The soft tissue component is when you have misaligned vertebrae and pressure on nerves resulting in changes in the surrounding soft tissues. This means the tendons, ligaments, blood supply, and other tissues undergo changes. These changes can occur at the point of the VSC or far away at some end point of the affected nerves. This component is also known as histopathology.
Any time is a good time for a better functioning nerve system. Pregnant mothers find that chiropractic adjustments improve their pregnancy and make delivery easier for themselves and their baby. Adjusting methods are always adapted to a patient’s size, weight, age, and condition of health.
Yes. It’s an unfortunate fact that up to half of those who had spinal surgery discover a return of their original symptoms months or years later. They then face the prospect of additional surgery. This too common occurrence is known as “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome.” Chiropractic may help prevent repeated back surgeries. In fact, if chiropractic care is initially utilized back surgery can often be avoided in the first place.
Not always. A subluxation is like a dental cavity—you may have it for a long time before symptoms appear. That’s why periodic spinal checkups are so important. Although it may be possible to know you have a subluxation, it is rarely possible to be sure you don’t. An occasional spinal checkup is always a good idea.
Yes. Having your subluxation corrected is important, no matter what other type of healthcare you are receiving. Today many DC’s and MD’s are working together in clinics and on joint research projects. MD’s are quite likely to have patients who are under chiropractic care; in fact many medical doctors see a doctor of chiropractic themselves.
You may have heard the notion that once you go to a chiropractor you have to keep going back. Before we answer that question, ask yourself how many times you have visited a dentist? Like most people, you’ve probably gone dozens of times. Why? Quite simply, to prevent your teeth from literally rotting out of your head! Once chiropractic care eliminates your pain and rehabilitates the injured tissues we do recommend that you maintain a schedule of periodic spinal checkups. Like your dentist has always known and many medical experts are now recognizing, prevention is the key to reducing recurrences of existing health conditions and minimizing new injuries in the future.
So the answer is yes, we want you to keep coming back, but just periodically. Periodic chiropractic care minimizes spinal and nerve stresses, reduces recurrences of old injuries, prevents new injuries from developing and minimizes degenerative processes, which enhances overall health and wellness.