Chiropractic is a health care profession which focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal and the nervous system, and the effects these disorders have on general health. Chiropractic care is most often used to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints; the most common being back pain, neck pain, joint pain and headaches.
Doctors of chiropractic practice a drug free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional and lifestyle counseling.
The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is spinal manipulation, more commonly known as ‘chiropractic adjustments’. The purpose of manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into the joints that have become subluxated, or restricted in their movement, as a result of tissue injury. Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stress, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In each case, injured tissues undergo both physical and chemical changes which can cause inflammation, pain, and a decrease in function. Manipulation, or adjustment, of the affected joints and tissues restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness; allowing the tissues to heal.
Chiropractic adjustments rarely cause discomfort. Occasionally patients may experience mild tenderness or aching following treatments, as one would after exercise; however this usually subsides 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 condition.