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What is Chiropractic Medicine?
Chiropractors, also known as doctors of chiropractic or chiropractic physicians, 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. It is based on the principle that skeletal joint misalignments interfere with the nervous system and can result in lower resistance to disease and many different conditions of diminished 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 also refer patients to and/or consult with other health practitioners.
Like other health practitioners, chiropractors follow a standard routine to obtain information needed to diagnose and treat patients. They take the patient’s medical 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 skeleton 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 skeleton.
Some chiropractors adopt other alternative medicines in their practices, including therapies using water, light, massage, ultrasound, electric, acupuncture, and heat. They also may apply supports such as straps, tapes, and braces to manually adjust the skeleton. Chiropractors 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.
Chiropractic requires keen observation to detect physical abnormalities. It also takes considerable manual dexterity, but not unusual strength or endurance, to perform adjustments. As in other health-related occupations, empathy, understanding, and the desire to help others are necassary qualities for dealing effectively with patients.
Education and Training
Chiropractors must be licensed, which requires 2 to 4 years of undergraduate education, the completion of a 4-year chiropractic college course, and passing scores on national and state examinations.
In 2007, 16 chiropractic programs and 2 chiropractic institutions in the United States were accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education. Applicants must have at least 90 semester hours of undergraduate study leading toward a bachelor’s degree, including courses in English, the social sciences or humanities, organic and inorganic chemistry, biology, physics, and psychology. Several chiropractic colleges offer prechiropractic study, as well as a bachelor’s degree program.
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. Chiropractic colleges also offer postdoctoral training in orthopedics, neurology, sports injuries, nutrition, rehabilitation, radiology, industrial consulting, family practice, pediatrics, and applied chiropractic sciences. Once such training is complete, chiropractors may take specialty exams leading to “diplomate” status in a given specialty. Exams are administered by specialty chiropractic associations.
All states and the District of Columbia regulate the practice of chiropractic and grant licenses to chiropractors who meet the educational and examination requirements established by the state. Chiropractors can practice only in states where they are licensed. Some states have agreements permitting chiropractors licensed in one state to obtain a license in another without further examination, provided that their educational, examination, and practice credentials meet state specifications.
For licensure, most state boards recognize either all or part of the four-part test administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. state examinations may supplement the National Board tests, depending on state requirements. All states except New Jersey require the completion of a specified number of hours of continuing education each year in order to maintain licensure. Chiropractic associations and accredited chiropractic programs and institutions offer continuing education programs.
Common Symptoms and Effect of Vertebral Subluxation
A vertebral subluxation is the result of spinal bones with improper motion or position that can affect nerve communications between your brain and your body.
SUB = less than LAXATION = dislocation
As a result of vertebral subluxation, muscles go into spasm, spinal bones lock up, range of motion decreases, adjacent nerves can be choked, and inflammation and discomfort ensues. This interferes with the control and regulation of your body. Incorrect communications between the brain and parts of your body can result in any number of symptoms.
Incorrect nerve communications can be an underlying cause of many health problems beyond just headaches and back pain or stiffness. For example; interference with nerve impulses going to or from your hands can cause numbness or weakness. Your nervous system controls every cell, tissue, organ and system of your body. These nerve impulses travel through your spine. Optimal health requires you having a spine free of vertebral subluxation.
Only a chiropractic examination can detect vertebral subluxations, and only chiropractic adjustments can reduce their effect to your nervous system, naturally and non-invasive.
How do you get vertebral subluxations?
There are many causes of subluxations, however, the most frequent are those due to physical reasons such as repetative stress, accidents or injuries, incorrect exercise techniques or work activities.
How can you correct vertebral subluxations?
The primary form of care to reduce vertebral subluxations is by chiropractic adjustments. By applying a specific and precise force, in the right direction and at the right time, changes in the position and motion of spinal bones can be made over time.
What symptoms do vertebral subluxations give?
You can have vertebral subluxations and not even know it. Like the early stages of tooth decay or cancer, vertebral subluxations can be present before warning signs appear. The results of a thorough examination can show the location and severity of any vertebral subluxations you may have.