What is Chiropractic?

What is chiropractic?

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Chiropractic - [ki"ro-prak'tik] means "done by hand".  The chiropractic profession is the third largest division of healthcare in the world today.  It is a branch of health care that concentrates on naturally balancing and optimizing the function of the body in order to promote and maintain health.

Contemporary chiropractors blend the art of hands-on therapy with the science and technology of modern medicine and physical rehabilitation.  As a profession, we elect not to prescribe medications or perform surgery, but work closely with medical colleagues for a full spectrum of patient care options.

Beginnings of chiropractic

The chiropractic profession was established in 1895 through the works of D. D. Palmer, founder of the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. 

Doctor Palmer theorized that misaligned spinal joints (termed "subluxations") caused pressure upon the spinal nerves, leading to nerve dysfunction and disease processes.  He taught that "realigning" the spine through manual manipulations (termed "adjustments") could relieve nerve pressure and restore health.  Doctor Palmer claimed great health benefits through the  administration of spinal adjustments and theorized that many health problems were rooted in spinal subluxations.

Many of Doctor Palmer's foundational theories have not held up to scientific scrutiny.  Subsequently, the chiropractic profession has diverged in two directions; chiropractors who adhere to the initial philosophical teachings of Doctor Palmer, and those who incorporate modern scientific evidence (research) into their patient's care. 

At New England Spine Institute, PC, we blend the science of contemporary medicine with the art and science of hands-on therapies to provide our patient's with comprehensive care.  Our focus is placed on evaluating conditions that affect the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.

How well educated are chiropractors?

After completing undergraduate studies, Chiropractors receive four years of graduate training.  Most of the coursework parallels traditional medical education and includes courses such as human anatomy / dissection, biomechanics, neurology, orthopedics and pathology.  Manual examination and clinical training is initiated early on, making chiropractors the most extensively trained  in hands-on techniques.

After completing their graduate training, chiropractors must pass National and State licensing examinations before entering practice.  Some will continue their education through residency training.  Currently, residencies are available in orthopedics, family practice, diagnostic imaging and research. 

What is the scope of chiropractic practice?

In order to achieve and maintain optimal health, chiropractors prescribe therapeutic exercises, stretches, nutritional counseling, ergonomic advice and lifestyle modifications.  Some also administer acupuncture.  Chiropractors may perform, order and interpret laboratory and diagnostic imaging studies. 

One key treatment administered by chiropractors is spinal manipulation, also known as an "adjustment".   We offer techniques that range from traditional manual manipulation to gentle mobilization procedures. 

While the majority of chiropractors work in private practice settings, an increasing number are gaining privileges to practice in hospitals and integrated care settings.  Some serve in the Veteran's Administration Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital and other military installations.

The scope of chiropractic practice in each state varies.