The name ‘Chiropractic’ was chosen by Daniel David Palmer, the developer of chiropractic in 1895 and is derived from the Greek words cheir, which mean ‘hands’ and praktos, which means ‘done,’ i.e. Done By Hand. Based on his extensive study of physiology and anatomy, Palmer made the major contribution to the field of health by putting together the system of philosophy, science and art of chiropractic.

The American Chiropractic Association defines chiropractic as, “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. Chiropractic services are used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.”

Despite some misconceptions, Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs), generally referred to as chiropractic physicians or chiropractors, earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and become licensed by the state before they can practice.  The American Chiropractic Association notes there are more than 70,000 DCs with active licenses in the United States that treat over 30-million Americans yearly, both adults and children.

The Association defines what a chiropractor does as, “Practice a hands-on, drug-free approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are perhaps best known for their expertise in the use of spinal manipulation; however, they are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, and to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.”

Most people have probably heard someone talk about going to their chiropractor and receiving an adjustment or spinal manipulation but might not know what that is. The ACA defines the purpose of an adjustment is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become restricted in their movement due to an injury to the tissues. The Mayo Clinic notes that seeking relief for headaches, neck and low back pain are the most common reasons people visit a chiropractor seeking an adjustment

Adjustments are required when tissue injuries happen due to improperly lifting heavy objects or by awkwardly sitting with poor posture for extended lengths of time. Regardless of the cause, injured tissues undergo chemical and physical changes resulting in pain, inflammation and reduced function. When the affected joints and tissues are adjusted, mobility is restored, which decreases pain and tightening of the muscles. Discomfort after an adjustment isn’t common, but a patient may experience some mild soreness in the affected area for 12 to 48-hours after the treatment.

When it comes to patient care, the adjustment might not be the only procedure employed by the chiropractor to manage care. Chiropractic care also utilizes controlled natural therapies such as heat, cold, exercise, massage, water and light to treat painful problems like lower back pain. The Chiropractor can also make dietary suggestions to help reduce the pain.

Another core of chiropractic treatment along with manual manipulation, as explained by Spine-Health, is mobilization. Mobilization is explained as, “Low velocity manipulation, movement and stretching of the muscles and joints, with the goal of increasing the range of motion within those areas.”

Every person visiting a chiropractor will have the chiropractor set up a chiropractic treatment plan based on his or her specific problem. The goals set in the plan are based on their level of pain, general health, issues of disability and intolerance to activities. The goal is preventing chronic problems and achieved through active care, such as patient exercises, modifying activities or ergonomic modifications over multiple visits.

Some may question whether all this manipulation of the body is safe. Although chiropractic’s safety record is excellent, no health treatment is completely free of possible adverse effects. The ACA notes, “Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of back pain, neck pain, joint pain of the arms or legs, headaches, and other neuromusculoskeletal complaints.”

Though some may experience slight discomfort after a chiropractic treatment, most people experience an immediate relief in pain. The chiropractor is able to deliver this relief without the use of dangerous opioid painkillers.

Patients also suffer less pain in their pocketbooks, as chiropractic care is considered a cost-effective, natural and whole body approach when compared to other medical treatments. In addition, most health insurance policies cover chiropractic treatments.

medical doctor vs chiropractor education


American Chiropractic Association: Origins and History of Chiropractic Care

American Chiropractic Association: What is Chiropractic?

The Mayo Clinic: Chiropractic Adjustment: Why It’s Done?

Spine-Health: Chiropractic Services Beyond Adjustments

Spine-Health: Chiropractic Treatment for Low Back Pain

American Chiropractic Association: Chiropractic: A Safe Treatment Option