What conditions do chiropractors treat?

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.

What is the philosophy behind chiropractic?

Doctors of chiropractic believe in a holistic (“total person”) approach to healing, which typifies the new and changing attitude towards health. It is based on the concept of “maintaining health” versus “treating disease.” Chiropractic philosophy includes:

  • Recognition that dynamics exist between lifestyle, environment and health;
  • Understanding the cause of illness in order to eliminate it, rather than simply treat symptoms;
  • Recognition of the centrality of the nervous system and its intimate relationship with the capacities of the human body;
  • A patient-centered, hands-on approach focused on influencing function through structure;
  • Focus on early intervention, emphasizing timely diagnosis and treatment of conditions that are wholly functional and reversible.

What type of education and training do chiropractors have?

Chiropractors are educated as primary contact health care practitioners, with an emphasis on musculoskeletal diagnosis and treatment. 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. In total, the chiropractic curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. The course of study is approved by an accrediting agency which is fully recognized by the U.S. Department
of Education.

Is chiropractic treatment safe?

Yes, chiropractic treatment is safe and effective. While any form of health treatment contains a degree of inherent risk, there is little danger in chiropractic care when administered by a licensed practitioner. To assure competency, all states require that DCs be board-qualified, licensed, and regulated according to stringent criteria. Statistics show that patient risk is substantially lower for chiropractic because the use of prescription drugs and surgery are not used.

How is a chiropractic adjustment performed?

Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is a manual procedure that utilizes the highly refined skills developed during the intensive years of chiropractic education. The chiropractor typically uses his/her hands to manipulate the joints of the body, particularly the spine, in order to reduce pain, and restore or enhance joint function. Chiropractic manipulation is a highly controlled procedure that rarely causes discomfort. The chiropractor adapts the procedure to meet the specific needs of each patient. Patients often note positive changes in their symptoms immediately following treatment.

Why is there a popping sound when a joint is adjusted?

Adjustment of a joint may result in release of a gas bubble between the joints that makes a popping sound – it’s exactly the same as when you “crack” your knuckles. The noise is caused by the change of pressure within the joint that results in gas bubbles being released.

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Adapted from:

American Chiropractic Association
1701 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA 22209