Chiropractic is a healthcare profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, 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, and headaches.
Doctors of Chiropractic (often referred to as chiropractors or chiropractic physicians) practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to healthcare that includes patient examination, diagnosis, and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as provide nutritional, dietary, and lifestyle counseling.
The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as “spinal manipulation,” also called a “chiropractic adjustment.” The purpose of manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying controlled force to joints that have become hypo mobile or restricted in their movement as a result of a tissue injury. Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, 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 joint and tissues restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and allowing tissues to heal.
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.
In many cases, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care may be the primary method of treatment. When other medical conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the conditions.