About Chiropractic Medicine

Chiropractic Principles and Practice

Principles

Chiropractic philosophy begins with the principle that the human organism has an innate power to maintain its own health. It is defined as the ability to adapt to changes in its internal and external environments and maintain itself in a state of health.

The art of chiropractic focuses on adjustments to correct spinal malfunctions, called subluxations, in order to remove interference to the spinal cord and the nerves that exit between the bones of the spine. When bones of the spine become misaligned or move out of their normal position, they can distort the flow of information from the brain to the body. Without the proper information from the nerve system, the body cannot function to its full potential.

The nervous system controls all other organs and tissues of the body, so a nerve system functioning at its best facilitates the body’s ability to cope with disability and disease. This information system coordinates the myriad chemical reactions that dictate how well you sleep, how food is digested, your ability to concentrate, physical coordination, the capabilities of the immune system and all aspects of body function.

The chiropractic approach to health care is holistic, with the vision to see the human body as much more than the sum of its parts. Stressing the patient’s overall well being, it recognizes that many factors affect health, including exercise, diet, rest, environment and heredity.

Chiropractic focuses on maintaining optimal health naturally so that the body is better able to resist disease, rather than simply treating the symptoms of disease. Chiropractors use natural, drugless, non-surgical health care and rely on the body’s inherent recuperative abilities.

Chiropractic is a drug-free, non-surgical science and, as such, does not include pharmaceuticals or incisive surgery.

Typical Visit to Chiropractor

Patient History
A clear understanding of the nature and extent of the illness helps the doctor decide whether chiropractic health care is appropriate treatment for the condition, and if additional examination procedures are necessary. Like other health professionals, doctors of chiropractic have a network of health providers available for referral when necessary.

Physical Examination
Orthopedic, neurological, spinal examination and postural analysis are performed to determine general health condition and specific problem(s).

X-rays/Lab Tests
May be utilized to further assess health condition.

Diagnosis (Follow-Up)
Based on history, examination and x-ray/lab findings.

Treatment (Follow-Up)
Treatment methods, along with the adjustment, may include ultrasound, electrical stimulation, controlled exercise and nutritional counseling.

Back Pain Stats (From The American Chiropractic Association)

  • Thirty-one million Americans have low back pain at any given time (1).
  • One half of all working Americans admit to having back symptoms each year (2).
  • One third of all Americans over age 18 had a back problem in the past five years severe enough for them to seek professional help (3).
  • The cost of this care is estimated to be a staggering $50 billion yearly–and that’s just for the more easily identified costs! (4).
  • Some experts estimate that as many as 80% of all of us will experience a back problem at some time in our lives (5).
  • The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research–a federal government research organization–recommended that low back pain suffers choose the most conservative care first. And it recommended spinal manipulation as the only safe and effective, drugless form of initial professional treatment for acute low back problems in adults. (6).
  • Chiropractic manipulation, also frequently called the chiropractic adjustment, is the form of manipulation that has been most extensively used by Americans for the last one hundred years. (7).

References:

  1. Jensen M, Brant-Zawadzki M, Obuchowski N, et al. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People Without Back Pain. N Engl J Med 1994; 331: 69-116.
  2. Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.
  3. Finding from a national study conducted for the American Chiropractic Association. Risher P. Americans’ Perception of Practitioners and Treatments for Back Problems. Louis Harris and Associates, Inc. New York: August, 1994.
  4. This total represents only the more readily identifiable costs for medical care, workers compensation payments and time lost from work. It does not include costs associated with lost personal income due to acquired physical limitation resulting from a back problem and lost employer productivity due to employee medical absence. In Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville, MD, Summer 1994.
  5. In Vallfors B, previously cited.
  6. Bigos S, Bowyer O, Braen G, et al. Acute Low Back Problems in Adults. Clinical Practice Guideline No. 14. AHCPR Publication No. 95-0642. Rockville, MD: Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, December, 1994.
  7. The RAND Corporation reported from its analysis of spinal manipulation research literature that 94% of all spinal manipulation is performed by chiropractors, 4% by osteopaths, and the remainder by medical doctors.

Education of Doctors of Chiropractic

Doctors of Chiropractic must complete four to five years at an accredited chiropractic college. The complete curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. Approximately 555 hours are devoted to learning about adjustive techniques and spinal analysis in colleges of chiropractic. In medical schools, training to become proficient in manipulation is generally not required of, or offered to, students. The Council on Chiropractic Education requires that students have 90 hours of undergraduate courses with science as the focus.

Those intending to become doctors of chiropractic must also pass the national board exam and all exams required by the state in which the individual wishes to practice. The individual must also meet all individual state licensing requirements in order to become a doctor of chiropractic.

An individual studying to become a doctor of chiropractic receives an education in both the basic and clinical sciences and in related health subjects. The intention of the basic chiropractic curriculum is to provide an in-depth understanding of the structure and function of the human body in health and disease. The educational program includes training in the basic medical sciences, including anatomy with human dissection, physiology, and biochemistry. Thorough training is also obtained in differential diagnosis, radiology and therapeutic techniques. This means, a doctor of chiropractic can both diagnose and treat patients, which separates them from non-physician status providers, like physical therapists. According to the Council on Chiropractic Education DCs are trained as Primary care Providers.

History of Chiropractic Medicine

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 BC and 1500 BC 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 BC, 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. In 1897, Daniel David Palmer went on to begin the Palmer School of Chiropractic, which has continued to be one of the most prominent chiropractic colleges in the nation.

Throughout the twentieth century, doctors of chiropractic gained legal recognition in all 50 states. A continuing recognition and respect for the chiropractic profession in the United States has led to growing support for chiropractic care all over the world. The research that has emerged from around the world has yielded incredibly influential results, which have changed, shaped and molded perceptions of chiropractic care. The report, Chiropractic in New Zealand, published in 1979, strongly supported the efficacy of chiropractic care and elicited medical cooperation in conjunction with chiropractic care. The 1993 Manga study published in Canada investigated the cost effectiveness of chiropractic care. The results of this study concluded that chiropractic care would save hundreds of millions of dollars annually with regard to work disability payments and direct health care costs.

Doctors of chiropractic have become pioneers in the field of non-invasive care promoting science-based approaches to a variety of ailments. A continuing dedication to chiropractic research could lead to even more discoveries in preventing and combating maladies in future years.