Chiropractors are doctors of a branch of alternative medicine focused on diagnosing, treating, and preventing spine disorders, pain, and mobility issues without drugs or surgery.
When most people think about chiropractors, they envision the adjustment of the spine. While this is an integral part of chiropractic care, many people don’t realize that chiropractors are also trained to help their patients in other ways.
The Origins of Chiropractic Medicine
Chiropractic, like many of the other alternative and holistic healing arts, has roots in both traditional and modern medicine.
The term chiropractic comes from the Greek word “cheir,” which means hand, and ” praxis,” which means treatment or practice. Chiropractors believe that many ailments can be treated by manipulating the bones and muscles in the body. They treat problems such as headaches, back pain, arthritis, asthma, and other issues without using drugs or surgery.
The approach to medicine used by chiropractors was developed from a blend of influences. The chiropractor’s job is to look for and treat the cause of a patient’s health problems rather than just treating symptoms. This differentiates chiropractic from traditional medical practices that focus on treating symptoms with drugs or surgery.
The history of chiropractic medicine began before Europeans settled in the United States. Still, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that chiropractic became its own distinct branch of medicine. Chiropractors rely on their own diagnostic tests and X-rays, MRIs, and ultrasound to determine the source of a patient’s ailments. They may use methods such as exercise, massage therapy, nutritional counseling, and physical therapy to treat patients.
Many consider chiropractic to be holistic medicine because it focuses on preventing illness and disease through natural remedies instead of relying on prescription drugs or surgery.
The Chiropractic Profession
The chiropractic profession has its roots in a system of healing developed by Daniel David Palmer, an American physician. Palmer was the first to study and practice what later became known as chiropractic medicine. He believed that the body possessed an innate intelligence, or life force, that allowed it to heal itself without the aid of drugs or surgery.
Treatment at a chiropractic clinic involves manipulations of the spine and other joints to restore mobility and relieve pain. Among other treatments, chiropractors use hands-on therapy known as manipulation, designed to correct vertebral subluxations—misalignments of the vertebrae—and help the body recover from injury or disease.
Education and Chiropractic Training Requirements
A chiropractor typically requires four years of undergraduate school followed by four years in a chiropractic program at an accredited college or university. After completing their undergraduate requirements, students enrolled in an accredited chiropractic program must complete at least 1,200 hours of clinical training with a mentor chiropractor before receiving a degree. Students can expect to spend about 1,800 hours in the classroom throughout their entire education.
After completing their education and passing all state board exams, prospective chiropractors must apply for licensure from the state where they wish to practice and submit proof of two years’ worth of practical experience as a chiropractor under the supervision of a licensed doctor.
The Chiropractic Approach to Patient Care
According to the American Chiropractic Association, chiropractors often treat neuromusculoskeletal disorders or musculoskeletal issues related to the nervous system.
Chiropractic care is non-invasive and doesn’t rely on the use of drugs or surgery. It’s a hands-on approach that focuses on identifying and alleviating the source of your pain and restoring health by manipulating the spine and joints, along with other treatment modalities.
Chiropractors specialize in the anatomy of the spinal column and joints. They study how the spine impacts overall health and the relationship between spinal structure, function, and nervous system function.
Some chiropractors specialize in physical therapy and rehabilitation, sports injuries, work-related injuries, post-surgery rehabilitation, and auto-accident injuries. Some chiropractors offer counseling on nutrition and exercise.
What Conditions Can Chiropractic Treat?
Chiropractors are trained to provide services that range from back and neck pain treatment to nutrition counseling and lifestyle management.
Treatments can include spinal manipulation therapy, massage therapy, physical rehabilitation and exercises, nutritional counseling, lifestyle coaching, and ergonomic advice.
Chiropractic services effectively treat a variety of neuromusculoskeletal problems, including but not limited to:
- Sports injuries
- Muscle and joint pain
- Facial pain
- Headaches and migraines
- TMJ disorders
- Pinched nerves
- Stress-related disorders
- Whiplash injuries
Discomfort in regions of your neck and back can significantly affect the way you function throughout the day, so it’s essential to seek treatment as soon as possible if you suffer an injury in these areas. A medical doctor may prescribe medications for the pain, but a chiropractor may be able to alleviate the problem with one or two holistic treatments.
Common Chiropractic Treatments
Many people think of chiropractic care as a treatment for back and neck pain, but it can also effectively treat other disorders, such as headaches and digestive problems.
Chiropractic treatment takes many forms. Chiropractors adjust the spinal column to realign the spine and remove pressure on the nerves to relieve pain and restore normal nerve function without surgery or drugs. Chiropractors also use heat therapy, massage therapy, and other therapeutic and rehabilitation techniques to treat their patients.
Treatment functions performed by chiropractors include:
- Examining x-rays and MRI scans to determine the cause of symptoms
- Treating back and neck pain, including herniated discs, sciatica, and degenerative disc disease
- Treating headaches, migraines, and other head, neck, or facial pain
- Diagnosing and treating nerve disorders, like carpal tunnel syndrome
- Treating sports injuries involving the spine
- Arranging treatment plans for positive patient outcomes
A significant benefit of chiropractic treatment is that it provides patients with a means of managing chronic back and neck pain and other common ailments.
Although all treatments are different, many chiropractors will use a combination of spinal manipulation and rehabilitation exercises to achieve better results for each patient.
Chiropractors often treat general aches and pains, but they can also treat more specific conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, scoliosis, or fibromyalgia. Treatment can also be effective for headaches and joint pain in the knees, ankles, elbows, shoulders, and hips. Additionally, regular adjustments can improve functionality, allowing patients to continue pursuing their normal day-to-day activities without pain or discomfort.
Treatment is tailored to each patient’s needs, which means it’s different for everyone. Chiropractors use a combination of methods to help their patients achieve holistic pain relief and improved wellness. In some cases, they may suggest exercises for rehabilitation or physical therapy to further resolve the problem.
The American Chiropractic Association states that the benefits of regular chiropractic care include improved function and mobility, reduced pain, reduced risk of injury from everyday activity, and overall improvement in quality of life.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic treatment aims to help patients live a healthy, active lifestyle. Chiropractic techniques enable your nervous system to be fully functional and allow you to participate in physical activity without pain and less risk of injury.
These are just a few of the benefits you can expect from chiropractic treatment:
- Relief from pain and stiffness
- Increased flexibility
- Improved range of motion
- Decreased stress on your muscles and joints
- Improved posture
- Better sleep
- Increased energy level and alertness
Chiropractic treatment can help patients suffering from acute or chronic pain by correcting misalignments that can cause pressure on nerves, which results in pain. By restoring proper alignment of joints, muscles, and soft tissue, chiropractic treatment can help restore mobility and eliminate pain. Chiropractic treatment can also prevent problems before they occur by identifying subluxations (misalignments) early on.
Chiropractic treatments can be used as part of a preventive program to promote health and wellness or to treat existing musculoskeletal problems.
How to Find a Qualified Chiropractor
You can find a qualified chiropractor through word-of-mouth recommendations, referrals from other health care providers, or by asking your physician. In some cases, you may want to seek out specialists for specific conditions, such as pediatric chiropractors or sports chiropractors.
The American Chiropractic Association recommends that you ask these questions when looking for a qualified chiropractor to best meet your needs:
- Is the doctor certified by the Council on Chiropractic Education?
- How long have they been in practice?
- What methods or equipment will be used to diagnose your problem?
- How much experience does the doctor have with similar issues to yours?
- Who will be treating you? A doctor of chiropractic or a physical therapist?
- What kinds of treatments will you receive?
- What is the cost of treatment, and what are your payment options?
- Will insurance cover any part of the expenses?
- Are there any side effects from treatments that I should know about before getting started?
Experience Pain Relief and Increased Wellness With Kim Chiropractic & Rehab
At Kim Chiropractic and Rehab, our team has the resources and is equipped with advanced technology to diagnose and treat the source of your pain—not just the symptoms. This technology includes X-ray and MRI machines, ultrasound, electronic muscle stimulation, a fully-equipped rehabilitation room, and state-of-the-art DRX 9000C treatment for lower back pain and sciatica.
We’re concerned with your long-term health and wellness, not just achieving a temporary fix for back or neck pain. We’ll show you how to improve your health naturally without relying on prescription medications.
We have convenient locations in Columbia, Centreville, and Rockville. To schedule a consultation, contact us today. We look forward to providing the chiropractic care you need to increase your mobility, relieve your pain, and help you live a vibrant, active life.