Chiropractic 101: An Introduction to this Alternative Medical System

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Chiropractic Basics

Founded in the 1890s by Daniel David (D.D.) Palmer, chiropractic was born out of the hypothesis that manual manipulation of the spine could cure disease. Despite the heavy opposition by organized medicine, Chiropractic was the largest alternative healing profession in the United States in the 1930s. Even after the landmark court decision of 1987 where the AMA was found to have engaged in unreasonable restraint of trade and conspiracy, considerable controversy and criticism has met Chiropractors every step of the way – and continues today.

How Does Chiropractic Work?

When the spine is slightly out of alignment it impinges on the spinal nerves that branch out to the muscles and various organs. Chiropractic helps to correct that misalignment, or subluxation, with manual manipulation. The human body has a powerful self-healing ability and Chiropractic helps this ability to function at full capacity.

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Who is Chiropractic for?

Chiropractic is the undeniable winner for acute neck and low back pain. Even though the public only thinks of it as help to relieve musculoskeletal pain, Chiropractic can successfully be used to treat a number of conditions. These include arthritis, asthma, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, whiplash, and back pain.

What to expect during a chiropractic treatment

The initial visit will include a health history and physical examination. X-rays are commonly performed on the first visit and a treatment plan will be created if chiropractic treatment will help. A typical treatment will address the impinged nerves and overworked muscles by realigning the spinal column. Hands-on techniques include spinal adjustments, joint manipulation and massage. It’s not uncommon for heat and/or cold to be applied to the affected area to help relax the muscles. Don’t be surprised if the Chiropractor suggests you to alter your lifestyle in addition to the treatment, such as diet and exercise.

A specific treatment to help relieve pain associated with herniated, or bulging, discs and degenerative disc disease in the low back and neck is Spinal Decompression. This is different than a typical treatment where you’ll lie on a specialized decompression table while “traction-distraction forces are applied to spinal structures in a precise and graduated manner, offset by cycles of partial relaxation.” (Whitaker Wellness) By lowering the pressure inside the targeted discs patients have found they heal faster.

Pros and Cons

In general Chiropractic care is safe when under a skilled practitioner. Side effects are frequent and mild after spinal manipulation. This typically includes new or worsening pain or stiffness in the affected region within 24 to 48 hours, which will subside. The pain is similar to soreness after exercising.

Choosing a Chiropractor

If you cannot find a suggestion from a trusted family member or friend then the American Chiropractic Association is the best place to search for a chiropractor. Chiropractors are required by law in the United States to earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree (D.C.) from an accredited college. This training includes both classroom work and direct experience during a 4-year academic program.

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