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Alternative therapies typically emphasize a drug-free method of healing mechanical injuries and relieving pain and stress. This kind of therapy may also focus on a holistic approach to maintaining good health that includes treatment, exercise, dietary supplements and lifestyle changes. Chiropractic is an alternative therapy that uses these elements to create a “whole body” regimen.

What is the Underlying Principle of Chiropractic?

This system originated from the belief that the nervous system is in control of the body, and that keeping the spine in alignment can prevent illnesses. Chiropractors use the term “vertebral subluxation” to refer to problems in the spinal column. This is an abnormal lesion on the spine that changes neurological function. It is these changes that cause both musculoskeletal disorders and disorders of the internal organs.

The changes occur because the lesion interrupts nerve transmissions that travel to and from the brain along the spinal cord. These transmissions carry sensations as well as impulses to perform tasks, like sitting or standing.

What Kind of Techniques do Chiropractors Use?

The most commonly used treatment technique is spinal manipulation, or what is often referred to as an ”adjustment”. The chiropractor makes a diagnosis concerning which joints have restricted movement and then uses manual manipulation to restore range of motion to these joints. To effectively accomplish this requires the use of force. This type of manipulation also relieves pain and stress.

Although force is applied to the joints, chiropractic is considered safe because it is non-invasive. However, there can be side effects because of the way the patient’s body responds to the adjustment or because the damage is extensive. Any side effects that do occur are usually mild such as soreness in the area that was adjusted.

However, there can be complications that are more severe, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • A herniated disk
  • Compression of nerves in the lower spinal column, a condition known as cauda equina syndrome, leading to pain, weakness, loss of feeling in your legs, and loss of bowel or bladder control
  • A certain type of stroke (vertebral artery dissection) after neck (cervical) manipulation

What Kind of Training do Chiropractors Receive?

Chiropractic candidates must attend a program that is accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education. The entry requirement is 90 semester hours of undergraduate study leading toward a bachelor’s degree. There are a few chiropractic colleges that offer pre-chiropractic study for applicants who do not meet the entrance requirement.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers the following description of the curriculum in chiropractic college:

“Chiropractic programs require a minimum of 4,200 hours of combined classroom, laboratory, and clinical experience. During the first 2 years, most chiropractic programs emphasize classroom and laboratory work in sciences such as anatomy, physiology, public health, microbiology, pathology, and biochemistry. The last 2 years focus on courses in manipulation and spinal adjustment and provide clinical experience in physical and laboratory diagnosis, neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics, physiotherapy, and nutrition. Chiropractic programs and institutions grant the degree of Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.).”

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