As one of healthcare’s fastest growing professions globally, chiropractic has earned recognition for its remarkable effectiveness through the use of natural, nonsurgical and drugless methods of treatment. Today there are more than 70,000 active chiropractic licenses in the United States alone, and the ranks of chiropractors are multiplying rapidly in many countries throughout the world.
In the United States, chiropractic is the third largest primary healthcare profession, surpassed in numbers only by physicians and dentists. It is the largest, most regulated, and best recognized of the complementary and alternative healthcare professions. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands officially recognize chiropractic as a primary healthcare profession distinct from medicine.
Doctors of chiropractic refer patients to and receive referrals from many healthcare professionals. Often chiropractic can provide safe and effective treatment without drugs or surgery for a wide range of health conditions.
History and General Philosophy
Chiropractic is concerned primarily with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on the nervous system and general health. The writings of Hippocrates (460-370 BC) and Galen (130-200 BC) and even ancient manuscripts of the Egyptians, Hindus and Chinese reveal many principles common to chiropractic. Its place in modern health care is largely attributed to Dr. Daniel David Palmer, who founded the first chiropractic college, in Davenport, Iowa, in 1897.
The tenets of chiropractic hold that a human being’s nervous system is essential to health, and that interference with this system impairs normal body functions and lowers the body’s resistance to disease. The study of chiropractic includes the various ways in which the nervous system can be irritated or impeded, resulting in pain or illness, as well as techniques to correct these problems.
Chiropractic is also based on the premise that the body can achieve and maintain health through its own natural recuperative powers, as long as it receives the right food, water, adequate rest, exercise, clean air, adequate nutrition and has a properly functioning nervous system.
The specific focus of chiropractic practice is known as the chiropractic subluxation or joint dysfunction. A subluxation is a health concern that manifests in the skeletal joints, and, through complex anatomical and physiological relationships, affects the nervous system and may lead to reduced function, disability or illness. Typically, symptoms of subluxation include one or more of the following:
- pain and tenderness
- asymmetry of posture, movement, or alignment
- range of motion abnormalities
- tone, texture and/or temperature abnormalities of adjacent soft tissues.
A doctor of chiropractic may detect subluxations through standard physical examination procedures, specific chiropractic assessments or special tests.