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, headaches, migraines, whiplash and more.
Doctors of Chiropractic – often referred to as chiropractors or chiropractic physicians – practice a drug-free, natural, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis, consultation and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.
The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as “spinal manipulation,” also called “chiropractic adjustment.” The purpose of adjustments is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypo-mobile – or restricted in their movement – as a result of a tissue injury. Tissue injury may occur as related to a work injury, sports injury, car accident, or other activities in your daily life. These can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object or auto accident, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function for the sufferer. Manipulation, or adjustment of the affected joints and tissues, restores mobility, alignment and function, thereby minimizing pain and muscle tightness, while accentuating the healing process.
Chiropractors may assess patients through clinical examination, laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging and other diagnostic interventions to determine when chiropractic treatment is appropriate or when it is not appropriate. Chiropractors will readily refer patients to the appropriate health care provider when chiropractic care is not suitable for the patient’s condition, or the condition warrants co-management in conjunction with other members of the health care team.