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Hippocrates advised: "Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases." The practice of Chiropractic therapy was founded by Daniel David Palmer in the 1890s in Iowa. One story tells of the first chiropractic treatment being done on a janitor who had lost his hearing. Palmer had examined his spine, noticed an abnormality and made an adjustment. The adjustment restored the janitor’s hearing. Palmer spent a large part of his career studying the relationship between the spine and various health and structural conditions. He treated many patients using chiropractic methods and documented his work in two books, The Science of Chiropractic and The Chiropractor’s Adjuster. After his death, Palmer’s son, B.J. Palmer took over his father’s work and was instrumental in making Chiropractic a licensed profession.
Chiropractors are also known as doctors of chiropractic or chiropractic physicians. They diagnose and treat patients with health problems of the musculoskeletal system and treat the effects of those problems on the nervous system and on general health. Many chiropractic treatments deal specifically with the spine and the manipulation of the spine. Chiropractic is based on the principle that spinal joint misalignments interfere with the nervous system and can result in lower resistance to disease and many different conditions of diminished health.
The chiropractic approach to healthcare focuses on the patient's overall health. Chiropractors provide natural, drugless, nonsurgical health treatments, relying on the body's inherent recuperative abilities. They also recognize that many factors affect health, including exercise, diet, rest, environment, and heredity. Chiropractors recommend changes in lifestyle that affect those factors. In some situations, chiropractors refer patients to or consult with other health practitioners.
Like other health practitioners, chiropractors follow a standard routine to get information needed to diagnose and treat patients. They take the patient's health history; conduct physical, neurological, and orthopedic examinations; and may order laboratory tests. X rays and other diagnostic images are important tools because of the chiropractor's emphasis on the spine and its proper function. Chiropractors also analyze the patient's posture and spine using a specialized technique. For patients whose health problems can be traced to the musculoskeletal system, chiropractors manually adjust the spinal column.
Some chiropractors use additional procedures in their practices, including therapies using heat, water, light, massage, ultrasound, electric currents, and acupuncture . They may apply supports such as straps, tape, braces, or shoe inserts. Chiropractors often counsel patients about health concepts such as nutrition, exercise, changes in lifestyle, and stress management, but chiropractors do not prescribe drugs or perform surgery.
In addition to general chiropractic practice, some chiropractors specialize in sports injuries, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, nutrition, internal disorders, or diagnostic imaging.
It is important to note that within Chiropractic are well over 50 different techniques and areas of specialization (Chiroenergetics, Endo-Nasal Technique, Network, Truscott, etc.)
Providers are required to complete a full 4 year, 4000+ credit hour professional degree in a chiropractic school accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE). Accredited programs often require 3 to 4 years of undergraduate study. Upon completion of a professional degree, practitioners achieve the status of Doctor of Chiropractor (D.C.). Chiropractors may also complete a post-doctoral study in more specialized areas such as neurology or orthopedics. To become certified, they must pass national and state board exams.
Credentials and Regulation Bodies
Each state, including the District of Columbia, requires a license for chiropractors. A practitioner may only practice in the state(s) where he is licensed. The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners regulates the curriculum requirements and also administers the board-certification exam recognized by states’ licensing requirements.
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) is the largest organization for professional certified chiropractors. The International Chiropractor’s Association (ICA) is the oldest international professional association for chiropractors in the world.
Fees per chiropractic session range from $70-$160. Most health insurance plans cover chiropractic care, usually limited to a number of sessions per year where only a co-pay needs to be paid. Patients should call their insurance company to understand coverage.
For more information about chiropractic, please visit the American Chiropractic Association or the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.