What is Chiropractic?
According to The Association of Chiropractic Colleges, "Chiropractic is a health care discipline which emphasizes the power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs and surgery. The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between the spine and the nervous system." Chiropractic Cheir, meaning hand, practikos, meaning practice - Chiropractic
The Goals of Chiropractic:
Because chiropractic treatments are primarily applied to the spinal region, many individuals incorrectly assume that chiropractors treat only back and neck ailments. While we do quickly and effectively eliminate back and neck pain, it's not the only goal. The objective is to restore and optimize human health.
How Chiropractic Works
As you may already know, the nervous system is the master controller of all living cells, tissues and organs; orchestrating and coordinating all cellular functions. The spinal column encases the nervous system (spinal cord and nerve roots) and is responsible for its protection. Abnormalities of the spinal column can irritate parts of the enclosed nervous system. This irritation can negatively affect cells, tissues and organs. The resulting ailments depend on the cells, tissues and organs affected as well as the extent of nervous system compromise. Correcting spinal abnormalities which irritate the nervous system can lead to a number of favorable results in patients suffering from various, seemingly non-spinal health conditions. Subluxation: Subluxation is defined as a vertebral misalignment and/or fixation causing nerve pressure and producing symptoms such as pain, inflammation and muscle spasms along with other organ dysfunctions. Several things in life can cause subluxation: accidents, sports injuries, repetitive movements, poor posture, poor work ergonomics, etc.
Chiropractic is a natural technique in which the doctor will perform a precise adjustment or manipulation to the spine to restore motion to the joint and remove nerve pressure. When this pressure is removed, healing time, pain, inflammation, and muscle spasm is decreased. Function, strength and stability are restored to the spine. Chiropractors use many specialized techniques to identify and treat these spinal abnormalities and optimize overall health. In addition to spinal adjustments, soft tissue techniques such as massage, dietary and nutritional counseling, physical therapies, and lifestyle modification programs are commonly employed.
Anatomy of the Spine
Before understanding the concept of chiropractic, one must have a basic understanding of the spinal anatomy. Chiropractic doesn't just focus on the bones of the back and pain. Chiropractic focuses on the nervous system. The brain controls the whole body via the spinal cord. The spinal cord is housed and protected by the spine, made up of 24 moveable vertebrae. Every function from the neck down is controlled by the spinal cord, EVERYTHING! Muscle function, breathing, your heart, digestion, sense of touch, immune function, are just a few things controlled by the spinal cord. That's why it's important to keep your spine healthy.
Chiropractors receive expert knowledge of the body through the study of basic sciences, clinical sciences, body mechanics, and chiropractic techniques. The study of chiropractic emphasizes anatomy, physiology, pathology, neurology, biomechanics, x-ray, and spinal adjusting techniques.
Qualifications and Licensing
Prior to acceptance into a Doctorate of Chiropractic program, students are required to complete a minimum of 90 hours of coursework. A Bachelor's degree is currently required by some states. To obtain a Doctor of Chiropractic degree one must complete over 1,300 hours of course work along with a clinical externship through an accredited chiropractic program. All individuals who practice chiropractic must pass the National Board Examination, and meet their individual states' requirements for licensure.
Medical and Chiropractic
The modern doctor of chiropractic works with the medical doctor to provide a non-invasive approach to health care. When the doctor of chiropractic's diagnosis indicates a condition where drugs, surgery or special medical intervention would be desirable, the patient is referred. Likewise, the conscientious medical doctor will refer to the doctor of chiropractic when manipulative therapy will prove beneficial.
When evaluating and treating patients, chiropractors take a holistic approach which includes identifying and correcting the cause(s) of the patient's health ailment. Chiropractors believe that correcting the cause of the problem provides significant long-term benefits.