Chiropractic medicine

Chiropractic medicine is an alternative medicine focusing on the relationship between the alignment of the spinal cord and the function of the whole body. Various health conditions related to bones, muscles and joints (musculoskeletal conditions) are treated by chiropractic therapies.

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Reasons to consider chiropractic medicine

Chiropractic adjustments can be an effective treatment option for everyone.

Misalignment can lead to pain.

Joint pain and back problems can be due to work, accidents, sports injury, household chores and the stress of daily life. Chiropractic treatment is based on the theory of vertebral subluxations (misalignment) causing nerve irritation and inflammation, which leads to pain.

Chiropractic treatment aims to restore proper alignment and relieve pain. If you’re experiencing joint aches or muscle pains that are impacting your daily life, chiropractic adjustments could be helpful.

However, you don’t necessarily have to be in persistent or chronic back pain to go to a chiropractor. It can also help keep your back healthy, even if you don’t have any pain. Chiropractic adjustments are an effective treatment option for everyone, including both children and adult patients; however, the most common age group seeking chiropractic care is people in their mid-40s to mid-60s.

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Treating an array of conditions.

Chiropractic treatment has been proven to be effective for a broad range of musculoskeletal conditions, including:

  • Arthritis and pain associated with arthritis.
  • Frequent headaches, including migraine headaches.
  • Healing after an accident or whiplash.
  • Joint pain and dysfunction.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Neck pain.
  • Sciatica.
  • Stiff muscles or muscle aches.
  • Work and sports injuries.
  • Pregnancy-related pain.

You should speak to your primary care doctor or receive a screening before a chiropractic adjustment to ensure that you’re a good candidate for chiropractic adjustments.

If chiropractic care is not appropriate for your medical condition, your chiropractor will refer you to other medical doctors for more conventional therapies, medical treatment(s) or conservative treatments to help you.

Benefits and risks of chiropractic care

Benefits. Chiropractic care is generally safe and can also improve your overall health and wellbeing. Spinal manipulations and chiropractic care are generally considered safe, evidenced-based treatments for acute lower back pain. Low back pain, which is usually caused by lifting heavy objects, usually resolves within six months and doesn’t require treatment. It takes different treatments for chronic lower back pain to get better.

It is recommended that chiropractors  perform spinal manipulations for patients with acute low back pain lasting less than four weeks. Spinal manipulation for neck pain may help relieve headaches, and also, may be beneficial for people with fibromyalgia and improved symptoms related to osteoarthritis.

People who have had chiropractic therapy treatments have found its benefits may include:

  • Improving overall sleep quality.
  • Relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Posture correction.
  • Injury prevention.

Risks. Complications of chiropractic therapy are uncommon, but could include strains, sprains or fractures. Spinal manipulation was found not to help improve knee pain. Some chiropractic doctors use Prolotherapy (a solution injected into painful joints), which at this time is a controversial procedure that may or may not provide temporary relief for joint pain.

Though risks of stroke may occur following the manipulation of the spine in the neck region, it is rare. Chiropractors should discuss your risk of stroke in more detail at your initial meeting. Each person who seeks a chiropractic adjustment has a unique reason for their appointment, but all chiropractic adjustments are best used to treat your musculoskeletal issues.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about chiropractic medicine

Are there different chiropractic treatment approaches?

Depending on the individual chiropractor’s treatment approach, they may use different types or a combination of treatment methods. There are several common treatments and therapies such as:

  • Manual therapy(hands-on).
  • Soft tissue therapy.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Therapeutic ultrasound and cold laser therapy for pain relief.
  • Customized, therapeutic exercises for people who need them.
  • Techniques to help people manage their own health conditions (such as positions for relief or coping mechanisms for pain).
Do chiropractors have formal training?

To practice, chiropractors are held to strict standards of education, testing and licensing. Licensed chiropractors must complete an accredited four-year postgraduate chiropractic program to receive their Doctor of Chiropractic degree. To obtain a license to practice, they must pass four separate national exams and meet the requirements of the state in which they intend to practice.

Chiropractors are specialists, and they work closely with primary care physicians to provide comprehensive healthcare solutions for patients. They’re trained in how to assess, diagnose, recommend and administer treatments for physical issues.

What can I expect at my appointment?

During your first appointment, your chiropractor healthcare provider will take note of any current injuries or medical conditions you may be experiencing, and they will perform a thorough examination of your back. To evaluate your musculoskeletal condition, your chiropractor will gather information regarding your medical history and perform a physical exam.

For your safety, please tell your chiropractor if you have a history of bone fractures, joint dislocations, arthritis, osteoporosis, tumors or cancer. It is also important for your chiropractor to know if you have a pacemaker, are pregnant or are taking a blood thinner before any treatment is performed.

Treatment may include lying on your stomach on an examination table, while the chiropractic doctor manipulates and moves your spine using their hands and arms. Chiropractors make sure not only that your joints are moving properly, but also that your surrounding muscles are functioning as well. We recommend that you wear loose, comfortable clothing for your appointment. 

Your chiropractor may also perform neurological and orthopedic tests. You might need additional exams or tests, including x-rays. Your chiropractor will use their clinical experience and the best available evidence when making a diagnosis and recommending treatments for you.

Depending on your medical condition, your treatment plan may include other therapies such as therapeutic massage, acupuncture or physical therapy. While your body adjusts to changes made during treatment, it is normal to experience minor soreness, stiffness or tiredness for a few days after therapy.

How many treatments will I need?

Every chiropractic plan is specially designed for the individual. You and your chiropractor will go over your program and set personal goals, and consult with other healthcare providers if any other treatments may be necessary. A typical course of treatment involves three to six 30-minute sessions and is complete once your goals have been reached.


National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Chiropractic: In Depth –

MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. Chiropractic –