Chiropractic is a type of alternative medicine that focuses on the musculoskeletal system and primarily the spine. It is used to treat mostly mechanical disorders or movement issues originating in the joints, muscles, and bones. However, many chiropractors believe that these disorders and problems may have adverse effects on the functioning of the nervous system as well. In fact, some experts argue that chiropractic health is not a form of alternative medicine, but is as important as primary health care. Chiropractic care usually involves manipulation of the joints, spine, and soft tissues and never involves surgery or medication. A chiropractor may also offer other advice regarding exercises, health, and sports.


Chiropractic was founded in the late nineteenth century by D.D. Palmer. His son, B.J. Palmer had a hand in expanding chiropractic care through the twentieth century. There are two main schools of thought within chiropractic: “straights” and “mixers.” Straights are the minority group and believe in vitalism, which states that living organisms are governed by different principles than non-living inanimate objects. Straights believe that all diseases are caused by problems in the spinal vertebrae, known as vertebral subluxation. Mixers are the more modern group within chiropractic and believe in conventional healing techniques. Although chiropractic has often been at odds with mainstream ideas regarding medicine, chiropractic care has long been in high demand. Today, chiropractic is mostly seen as a legitimate form of alternative therapy and is provisioned for in the majority of insurance plans in the United States. Approximately 22 million people across the United States visit a chiropractor on a yearly basis. Of those people, 7.7 million are seeking treatment for some form of chronic or acute back pain.

Chiropractor stretches female customer's arm


Chiropractic treatment overlaps with several other specialized forms of treatment, including osteopathy, physiotherapy, and massage therapy. In an initial assessment, the chiropractor first takes the medical history of the patient, conducting a complete physical health examination. He or she may use diagnostic imaging tools or lab tests to determine whether chiropractic is a suitable method of treatment. When the chiropractor begins treatment, he or she will often manually adjust or manipulate the joints using controlled force. This is thought to improve the patient’s range of motion and quality of movement. The chiropractor may also provide counseling regarding nutrition, exercises, and rehabilitation in his or her treatment plan. The goal is to restore functioning and prevent future injuries.

Chiropractic 2

Benefits and Risks

Today, chiropractic care is generally considered a safe and effective form of alternative treatment, especially for lower back pain. Sudden, acute injuries resulting from lifting too much weight or playing sports may be effectively treated by chiropractic, although they generally improve on their own. Chronic conditions are harder to treat, but chiropractic may help. For instance, research has also shown that chiropractic is an effective measure in treating chronic headaches and neck pain. Bone- and joint-related diseases, including fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis may also respond to chiropractic treatments.