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What is Chiropractic?


Chiropractic is a natural, hands-on method of healing. The Greek word Chiropraktikos, meaning "effective treatment by hand" is the origin of the word chiropractic.


A basic chiropractic evaluation is primarily focused on detecting joint imbalances in the spine, ribs, jaw, cranium, and extremities, determining why they have developed, what ill effects they are having on the body and what therapies are needed to correct these imbalances.

During a spinal examination a chiropractor will check for vertebral subluxations. A subluxated vertebra does not move properly. Have you ever had your arm in a cast? When a joint doesn’t move for weeks, it becomes hard to move it. It is stiff and sore. It is the same when joints in the spine become subluxated. Along with the stiffness and pain from a subluxation, much of the nervous system can be affected. Most of the nerves in your body must travel through openings in the spine in order to get to your central nervous system. When the joints of the spine become stiff, sore and swollen from a subluxation, the nervous system is adversely affected.


Correcting subluxations can help to restore health. It can also prevent future health problems. If a vertebra is subluxated and doesn’t move very well, it becomes prone to degenerative changes (arthritis).


Since chiropractic does such a good job in relieving musculoskeletal pain, many think of them as bone doctors. In reality a chiropractor is a doctor who treats and diagnoses problems with the muscular, skeletal and nervous system, the dynamic between them and how these imbalances are affecting the rest of your body.


How long has chiropractic been around?

Chiropractic, as we know it, was developed in 1895 by Daniel David Palmer. However, spinal manipulation has been an effective healing art for thousands of years. In the 19thcentury there were “bonesetters” who practiced a healing art much like chiropractic. The ancient Egyptians and the ancient Chinese both practiced spinal manipulation as a healing art. Hippocrates also used spinal manipulation.


Is a chiropractor a “real” doctor?

Usually when people say the word “doctor” they mean doctor of medicine. There are other kinds of doctors, doctors of osteopathy, doctors of dentistry and doctors of chiropractic. Every state licenses chiropractors as one of the three major providers of health care, along with medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy. A chiropractor, after his undergraduate education, is required to have 4,500 hours of classroom study—comparable to the number of hours a medical doctor goes to school. Several board exams must also be passed for a chiropractor to obtain a license. Doctors of chiropractic and doctors of medicine must pass the same basic science National Board Examinations. In addition, each state administers its own State Board Examination which chiropractors must also pass.


What kind of education does it take to become a chiropractor?

The Council on Chiropractic requires 4,200 hours of education. The chiropractic colleges require between 4,800 hours and 5,200 hours for graduation (depending on the college). The average total number of hours of anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, public health, physiology, and pathology taught in the chiropractic schools is a little over 1,400. In three medical schools sampled, it was around 1,200. Chiropractors spend a significant amount of time with hands-on learning of adjusting and other manual therapy (a little under 2,000 hours on average). They must also spend time in a clinical internship.


To quote the American Chiropractic Association, “Doctors of chiropractic — who are licensed to practice in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in many nations around the world — undergo a rigorous education in the healing sciences. In some areas, such as anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation, nutrition and public health, they receive more intensive education than their MD counterparts.”


Will I have to have x-rays or an MRI?

The decision to have x-rays or MRIs is on an individual case basis. How long will I have to come for treatment? Every individual is different, as are their goals for care. Treating to relive pain takes less time than does rehabilitating and stabilizing the situation to prevent future problems. Some people like to get regular care to balance and optimize the function of the nervous system.


Could I become addicted to chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a healthy, natural thing, not an artificial thing that you can become “hooked” on. Once the health problem is brought back into control, therapy can cease.


Chiropractic has benefits that extend beyond pain relief. It is a feeling of being in balance and of having optimum health. People who receive chiropractic adjustments are often surprised at the sense of well-being associated with being in balance. If they take care of themselves, exercise and eat right, this feeling lasts.

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