Chiropractic Care

by on Oct.18, 2011, under Alternative Medicine

Chiropractic theory holds that subluxations, or partial dislocations, of vertebrae that press on spinal nerves cause disease. Adjusting the vertebrae with quick thrusts and manipulations restores normal function to muscles, organs, joints, and other tissues. The theory was developed by Daniel David Palmer in the 1890s and later refined by his son.

Today, most chiropractors fall into two groups, those who strictly follow Palmer’s philosophy of only using adjustments to get rid of subluxations and those who combine adjustments with exercise, heat treatment, and nutrition counseling. Many chiropractors specialize in treating back pain, sciatica, or disorders related to the neck region like headaches, shoulder pain, and tennis elbow. Some will treat other illnesses, from arthritis to bladder infections, but nearly all promote disease prevention through proper diet, exercise, and lifestyle.

At the chiropractor’s office

Chiropractors start by taking a medical history and performing a physical exam. They’ll use X-rays to find problems related to the spine and may also conduct tests to locate muscle strengths or weaknesses, measure spinal flexibility, find skeletal abnormalities, and detect bad posture. If problems like a tumor or bone fracture are found, the patient is referred to a medical doctor. Otherwise, the chiropractor determines a course of treatment and begins adjustment procedures.

One common procedure is the quick, but not forceful, recoil thrust. The patient is positioned belly down on the special chiropractic table. In another common procedure, the rotational thrust, the patient is placed so the upper body is twisted counter to the pelvis. With the spine rotated to its normal limit, the chiropractor uses a short, fast thrust to realign the spine.

Acceptance of chiropractic medicine

At one time the American Medical Association label chiropractic as an unscientific cult. Since the 1970s, however, chiropractic has grown in popularity and acceptance.

Today chiropractors are licensed in all 50 states and throughout Canada. In both countries, many private health insurance plans and all government medical plans cover treatment. It is considered to be the third largest primary care profession in the world with only medicine and dentistry exceeding it.

In the U.S. alone, there are some 50,000 licensed chiropractors, serving up to 7% of the population. Accredited schools offer 4- to 5-year programs that cover much of the same ground as mainstream medical schools. Still chiropractors are not physicians and they are not permitted to prescribe drugs or perform surgery. Chiropractors receive a Doctor of Chiropractice degree.

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