Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system and the effects of these disorders on general health.  Doctors of Chiropractic practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment.  The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as “spinal manipulation,” also called “chiropractic adjustment” which is designed to address ailments caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time.  However, there exist a wide variety of chiropractic techniques, and a different – more holistic – school of thought that focuses on addressing lifestyle changes, better adaptation to emotional and chemical stresses, and strategies that explore the connection between mind, body and spirit.  Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.

The roots of chiropractic care can be traced back to the beginning of recorded time. Writings from China and Greece written in 2,700 B.C. and 1,500 B.C. mention spinal manipulation and the maneuvering of the lower extremities to ease low back pain.  Hippocrates, the Greek physician who lived from 460 to 357 B.C., also published texts detailing the importance of chiropractic care.  In one of his writings he declares, “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases”.   In the United States, the practice of spinal manipulation began gaining momentum in the late nineteenth century.  In 1895, Daniel David Palmer founded the Chiropractic profession in Davenport, Iowa.  Palmer was well read in medical journals of his time and had great knowledge of the developments that were occurring throughout the world regarding anatomy and physiology.  In 1897, Palmer founded the Palmer School of Chiropractic, which has continued to be one of the most prominent chiropractic colleges in the nation.  Throughout the twentieth century, doctors of chiropractic gained legal recognition in all fifty states.  A continuing recognition and respect for the chiropractic profession in the United States has led to growing support for chiropractic care all over the world.

Doctors of chiropractic must complete four to five years at an accredited chiropractic college. The intention of the basic chiropractic curriculum is to provide an in-depth understanding of the structure and function of the human body in health and disease.  An individual studying to become a doctor of chiropractic receives an education in both the basic and clinical sciences and in related health subjects.  The complete curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. Approximately 555 hours are devoted to learning about adjustive techniques and spinal analysis.  The educational program includes training in the basic medical sciences, including anatomy with human dissection, physiology, and biochemistry. Thorough training is also obtained in differential diagnosis, radiology and therapeutic techniques.  Chiropractic colleges provide as much or more training in anatomy/embryology, physiology, chemistry/biochemistry, microbiology, diagnosis, x-ray and orthopedics than medical schools.  Those intending to become doctors of chiropractic must pass a national board exam and all exams required by the state in which the individual wishes to practice.  Doctors of chiropractic can both diagnose and treat patients; according to the Council on Chiropractic Education, Doctors of Chiropractic are trained as Primary Care providers.

Doctors of Chiropractic have a deep respect for the human body’s ability to heal itself without the use of surgery or medication. As a profession, the primary belief is in natural and conservative methods of health care.  These doctors devote careful attention to the biomechanics, structure and function of the spine, its effects on the musculoskeletal and neurological systems, and the role played by the proper function of these systems in the preservation and restoration of health.  A Doctor of Chiropractic is one who is involved in the treatment and prevention of disease, as well as the promotion of public health, and a wellness approach to patient healthcare.

A 1993 study published in Canada investigated the cost effectiveness of chiropractic care. The results of this study concluded that more chiropractic care would save hundreds of millions of dollars annually with regard to work disability payments and direct health care costs.


Copyright 2007  Raquel Lazar-Paley