What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts which is based upon the
understanding that good health depends, in part, upon a normally
functioning nervous system (especially the spine, and the nerves
extending from the spine to all parts of the body).
"Chiropractic" comes from the Greek word Chiropraktikos,
meaning "effective treatment by hand." Chiropractic stresses
the idea that the cause of many disease processes begins with the body's
inability to adapt to its environment. It looks to address these
diseases not by the use of drugs and chemicals, but by locating and
adjusting a musculoskeletal area of the body which is functioning
The conditions which doctors of chiropractic address are as varied
and as vast as the nervous system itself. All chiropractors use a
standard procedure of examination to diagnose a patient's condition and
arrive at a course of treatment. Doctors of chiropractic use the same
time-honored methods of consultation, case history, physical
examination, laboratory analysis and x-ray examination as any other
doctor. In addition, they provide a careful chiropractic structural
examination, paying particular attention to the spine.
The examination of the spine to evaluate structure and function is
what makes chiropractic different from other health care procedures.
Your spinal column is a series of movable bones which begin at the base
of your skull and end in the center of your hips. Thirty-one pairs of
spinal nerves extend down the spine from the brain and exit through a
series of openings. The nerves leave the spine and form a complicated
network which influences every living tissue in your body.
Accidents, falls, stress, tension, overexertion, and countless other
factors can result in a displacements or derangements of the spinal
column, causing irritation to spinal nerve roots. These irritations are
often what cause malfunctions in the human body. Chiropractic teaches
that reducing or eliminating this irritation to spinal nerves can cause
your body to operate more efficiently and more comfortably.
Chiropractic also places an emphasis on nutritional and exercise
programs, wellness and lifestyle modifications for promoting physical
and mental health. While chiropractors make no use of drugs or surgery,
Doctors of chiropractic do refer patients for medical care when those
interventions are indicated. In fact, chiropractors, medical doctors,
physical therapists and other health care professionals now work as
partners in occupational health, sports medicine, and a wide variety of
other rehabilitation practices.
The chiropractic perspective on health and disease emphasizes two
- the structure and condition of the body influences how the body
functions and its ability to heal itself; and
- the mind-body relationship is instrumental in maintaining health
and in the healing processes.
Although chiropractic shares much with other health professions, its
emphasis and application of philosophy distinguishes it from modern
medicine. Chiropractic philosophy gravitates toward a holistic
("total person") approach to healing which combines elements
of the mind, body and spirit and maintains that health depends on
obedience to natural laws, and that deviation from such laws can result
Chiropractic Philosophy includes:
- emphasis on patient recuperative abilities rather than surgery
- recognition that dynamics exist between lifestyle, environment and
- 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
- balancing benefits versus risks of clinical interventions
- recognition of the primary importance of monitoring progress
closely through appropriate diagnostic procedures
- 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
Chiropractic philosophy blends an effective combination of
conviction, critical thinking, open-mindedness, and appreciation of the
natural order of things. Chiropractic focuses on the establishment and
maintenance of a relationship between patients and their environment
which is most conducive to functional well-being.