Posted on 10-07-2009
What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a science, art and philosophy that concentrates itself with the relationship between the nervous system and the function (health) of the body.
Early Egyptian Hieroglyphics show crude spinal manipulation techniques. Hippocrates of ancient Greece knew of the importance of the spine for good health. During medieval times, "bonesetters" were quite successful in relieving pain and many other health complaints.
Chiropractic (Greek: treatment from hand) arose in the 1890's as a separate profession by a Canadian from Port Perry, Ont.. D.D. Palmer, in 1895, began an alternative discipline with the use of specific spinal adjustments instead of general manipulation of spinal joints. Many of the very first chiropractors were medical doctors, moving away from conventional medicine, which was very crude (bloodletting, leeches, surgery and patent pharmacology) when compared to today
Chiropractic and Medicine.
Chiropractic is now the third largest primary health care profession in the western world after medicine and dentistry. Over 50% of the profession has graduated since 1980 from accredited colleges. The profession has always presented itself as a natural and conservative source of health care, offering an alternative to surgery and medication.
The profession's central interest has always been the relationship between the nervous system and the impaired movement of the spinal column and the effect of this on the patient's health. Its principal treatment is joint adjustment or manipulation.
This is supplemented by a focus on lifestyle counseling, nutrition, prevention and patient responsibility for health.
If you know anyone with migraine or other headaches or chronic backache, you may well know someone who visits a chiropractor. These are the most common reasons for seeking chiropractic care, according to the Ontario Chiropractic Association (OCA).
"In fact, the management of musculoskeletal pain, including back pain, neck pain and headache, accounts for 90 per cent of the care chiropractors provide today," says local OCA representative, Dr. George I. Traitses, a chiropractor with his own private practice and who handles media liaison for the OCA. Many of those who suffer have had auto accident injuries.
Back pain alone is an enormous and costly problem. The World Health Organization describes disability from low-back pain as an epidemic. Current estimates are that 80 per cent of people will be disabled by back pain during some point of their adult lives. Also, it is the third most frequent reason, after respiratory disorders and headaches, that people consult a health practitioner.
However, many other conditions respond well to chiropractic treatments, too. The reason is that chiropractic treatment does not target a specific symptom or disease. Rather, it aims to rectify abnormal spinal joint movement, which in turn -- through the spine's intimate relationship with the body's nervous system -- has a beneficial effect throughout the body, due to the altered and improved function of the nerve supply.
"Our traditional view is that the chiropractor is a telecommunications engineer. The spinal joints are richly and extensively 'wired up' to the whole body by the nervous system, and skilled spinal adjustment not only corrects local problems but also influences body functions and many diseased states through direct, indirect, and reflex nerve mechanisms," Dr. Traitses says.
The first thing a chiropractor does with a new patient is perform a diagnosis that will determine whether the problem to be treated is within the scope of chiropractic or should be referred to another type of health care practitioner. The process might include the same orthopedic and neurological tests -- including imaging, if necessary -- that medical practitioners use, as well as a specialized chiropractic analysis.
This specialized analysis consists of a physical examination to assess the balance among key joint and skeletal sites; the relationship between muscle and joint dysfunction and the location of the pain, and other physiological states. Referred pain from spinal problems can mimic or be a contributing cause to various other conditions, so a thorough examination is a crucial first step.
Chiropractors perform a variety of physical treatments. They use both specific joint movement techniques -- traditionally called "adjustments" -- as well as the slower and less specific mobilization methods that are now common in physiotherapy. In addition, treatment encompasses trigger point and other muscle procedures. Chiropractors also often employ therapeutic exercise and rehabilitation regimes in treatment programs, along with health care education and counseling.
However, chiropractors do not use prescription drugs or surgery in their practice and, if either of these is indicated, the patient is referred to a medical professional. Referral between chiropractic and medical practitioners is becoming increasingly common, according to Dr. Traitses.
Scientific evidence of chiropractic's effectiveness has grown significantly during the past 15 years, verifying decades of anecdotal evidence from the practice. More textbooks and original research on chiropractic have been published in the past 10 years than in the previous history of the profession.
Independent studies confirm that chiropractic education is equivalent to medical education in quality and content, with a focus on the neuromusculoskeletal system and physical treatments, instead of surgery and pharmacology.
Chiropractic education generally encompasses a minimum of seven years of post-secondary education and training, prior to licensing. Also, chiropractors must pass individual state and national Board examinations.
Chiropractors are licensed as doctors, authorized to diagnose and treat conditions concerning the spine, muscle and nervous systems and work to promote optimal health and wellness through positive lifestyle changes.
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