Chiropractic is a natural health care profession that has been around for over 100 years. In the US, it is the largest form of natural (or “alternative”) health care. The general premise of chiropractic is that disease is caused by nervous system stress. The nervous system is the network of cells throughout the body that processes and communicates every single bit of information obtained. Any dysfunction to the nervous system will inhibit the body’s ability to heal itself. Therefore, a chiropractor is often able to help a patient with various complaints, such as headaches, digestive problems, or hormonal issues, even though their care is most often sought after for neck or low back pain relief.
Chiropractors focus on the neuromuscular system without the use of drugs or surgery. Special emphasis is placed on the spine, due to its relationship with the nervous system. The vertebral subluxation, or misalignment of a spinal segment, may often be the cause of altered neurological function. Chiropractic physicians are skilled at correcting these subluxations thru specific spinal adjustments, which is most often performed with their hands. After all, the word chir is derived from the Greek word meaning “referring to the hand,” and prassein “to do.”
Chiropractors are a diverse group though they all believe that the nervous system mediates an individual’s health. Many diagnostic methods are used by chiropractors. They will take a thorough history, perform detailed neurological and orthopedic tests, and some use X-Rays to either aid in their diagnosis or rule out a suspected problem. There are also many different techniques with which a doctor of chiropractic (DC) may perform to restore health to the nervous system. While some DCs focus solely on the spinal adjustment to restore nervous system function, most chiropractors employ other modalities, ranging from deep tissue muscle work, to physical therapy devices, (e.g. ultrasound, electrical stimulation, laser therapy), to nutritional supplementation, and even emotional therapies. Some doctors who look beyond the spine practice what is known as applied kinesiology, or AK.
Overall, chiropractors, whether using applied kinesiology in their practice or not, are doctors who ultimately seek not only to help their patients with the problem presented, but prevent further problems they may have if their health and lifestyle remain under stress. The word doctor is Latin for teacher, and teaching a patient how to care for themselves in order to maintain the healthiest lifestyle possible is a priority for these healing physicians.