What is a chiropractor?
The chiropractic profession began in 1895 when DD Palmer, a magnetic healer at the time treated a deaf man with a spinal adjustment that enabled him to hear. Back in 1895, Dr. Palmer called the misalignment he corrected a vertebral subluxation.
Many years later, chiropractors have evolved, like osteopath’s into main stream health professions, with a specialization in the spine, extremities and joints of the body, and how the nervous system is affected by mechanical dysfunction of these systems of movement.
While spinal manipulation is still the mainstay of many chiropractors, the professions drug free holistic approach to evaluation and treatment has made it the most effective practitioner to visit for back problems as well as many other types of musculoskeletal health problems. The profession is also known as one of the safest, with some of the lowest malpractice premiums in healthcare, and relies on natural methods that are patient centered and well accepted in the medical literature for their effectiveness.
The chiropractic approach to holistic evaluation and treatment is well rounded, and chiropractic physicians are working along side medical providers to provide pain management, hospital triage of musculoskeletal problems and co management in systems such as the Veterans Administration (VA).
Unlike physical therapy in most states, chiropractors have always been portal of entry physicians, which means that in most cases, to see a chiropractor, the general public does not require a referral or prescription. This can save time for physician’s offices as well as for patients who are having a problem and wish to be seen immediately, something that is not common in the traditional medical system.
Unlike most of the healthcare system in the United States, most chiropractors will look for and treat movement problems that cause complaints such as shoulder, knee, foot, ankle, neck, hip and back pain. In order to evaluate movement, a chiropractor will take a thorough history of not only the painful part, but of the entire body, since this may offer clues as to the source of the pain. They will also evaluate the mechanisms of movement, rather than the part which may be why their conservative approach is so effective for so many conditions. Chiropractors understand movement and mechanisms of pain are different from person to person and rather than trying to treat the painful part, they look to understand the mechanism of pain and treat that, which often reduces the likelihood of other painful symptoms due to poor mechanisms of movement in the body.
Chiropractors are moving toward the primary spine model of care which is primary care for the musculoskeletal system. This fills an important need since medical primary care has very little training in the musculoskeletal system and how it works or functions, and their treatment options are usually limited to medication of mechanical pain, injections or surgeries that is more risky. Many of these patients are helped by chiropractors after the medical approach of testing, referrals for therapies on the painful area and medication fail to resolve the patients complaints.
Chiropractic medicine has been proven safe and also very effective, and has the highest level of satisfaction by Consumer Reports and other well read magazines and journals for problems such as back pain when compared to other forms of treatment.
Treatment by a chiropractor may include electro therapy, myofascial release, instrument assisted soft tissue treatment, exercises as well as manipulation of the spine and/or extremities. Many chiropractors also use foot orthotics to help balance the pelvis and improve how we walk and move. This integrated active approach to care is why many patients find chiropractors are not only effective, but are their go to provider for cost effective care for what is hurting or making them feel stiff.
Chiropractic medicine has specialties such as sports injury, orthopedics, neurology and even pediatrics. Chiropractors trained in sports injury will have knowledge of orthopedics, neurology and pediatrics combined and are usually working for professional sports teams such as football, hockey, soccer, track and field and basketball for example. Athletes know that chiropractic is a valuable part of their care, and the natural approach often helps them prevent injuries and recover faster from current injuries they may have had.
Chiropractors look to find the cause of your pain, rather than just treating your symptom. The years of training chiropractors have in body mechanics and physical medicine make them uniquely qualified to evaluate and properly treat most spinal and extremity complaints.
The American College of Physicians report on what can help back pain showed that most of the methods that work are movement based, and a drug free and non invasive approach is most clinically appropriate at the beginning of care. More medical physicians are now referring to chiropractors, or visiting them personally for their physical challenges.
More hospitals and even the VA is integrating more chiropractors who are seen as an important part of their healthcare teams. A recent study which looked at chiropractic care in the VA system showed that back pain results and satisfaction improved markedly with chiropractic-medical co-management of back pain.
Chiropractic care is movement based, which is likely why chiropractors have such a high level of satisfaction among their patients. It is the lack of movement, poor adaptation to previous injuries or poor body mechanics that often is why we hurt. If you have multiple painful problems such as fibromyalgia or polymyalgia, a chiropractor may be your best first choice to understand why and find the best evaluation and treatment for your condition. If you have knee, back, ankle, shoulder, rib pain or headaches, again, visit a chiropractor first. You’ll be glad you did.