Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems in the body. Chiropractors assist in the recovery from the effects of these types of disorders on a person’s mobility and general health. Chiropractic services treat neck and back complaints, including but not limited to back pain and neck pain, pain in the arms or legs, and certain types of headaches.

What is a Doctor of Chiropractic?

Doctors of Chiropractic (DC), often referred to as chiropractors, practice a hands-on and drug-free approach to health care. Chiropractic care includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have skills in diagnosis and manual therapy for musculoskeletal issues. They train to provide wholistic care, often adding additional rehabilitative exercises, nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.

DCs may assess patients through clinical examination, diagnostic imaging and other diagnostic testing methods to determine a working diagnosis and decide whether chiropractic treatment is appropriate or not. 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 health care providers.

In many cases, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care may be a patient’s primary method of treatment. When other medical conditions exist, chiropractic services may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition.

Like their MD colleagues, doctors of chiropractic are subject to the national government registration boards. Chiropractic education in Australia requires successful completion of a nationally accredited 5-7 year undergraduate/masters degree program. After graduation, they must maintain their registration annually by earning continuing professional development (CPD) credits through approved CPD programs.

What is Spinal Manipulation?

A well known procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is spinal manipulation therapy (referred to as a “chiropractic adjustment”). The purpose of spinal manipulation therapy is to restore uniform mobility by manually adjusting movement of restricted joint segments. Often this restriction is caused as a result of some kind of a tissue injury.

Tissue injury caused by a single traumatic event, such as a motor vehicle collision can lead to dysfunction. Other causes include improper lifting of an object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for extended periods of time. In either case, those injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes which cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function for an individual. Manipulation, or adjustment of the affected spinal joint and tissues, restores mobility and stimulates the nerve, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, allowing tissues to heal. Some DCs will manipulate muscle as well to reduce mechanical restrictions in the muscle tissues and improve the nerve response.

Chiropractic adjustment rarely causes discomfort. However, patients may sometimes experience mild soreness or aching following treatment (as with some forms of exercise) that usually resolves within 12 to 48 hours. Compared to other common treatments for pain, such as over-the-counter and prescription pain medications, chiropractic’s conservative approach offers a safe and effective option.

Information provided above is consistent with the information supplied by the American Chiropractic Association and Australian Chiropractic Association websites.