Chiropractic is an alternative medicine that is mainly concerned with the diagnosis and remedy of mechanical ailments of the skeletal system, particularly the spine. Many practitioners of chiropractic are also known as chiropractors. The principles underlying chiropractic treatment are similar to those that are believed to be responsible for the effectiveness of physical therapy in providing rehabilitation and relief from injury. Chiropractors examine patients using clinical standards of measurement such as X-rays and laboratory tests. They are also trained to recognize subluxations or disruptions in the musculoskeletal systems and their underlying causes. Treatments are aimed at restoring normal range of motion, relieving pain, reducing stiffness and achieving balance.
In most cases, chiropractic manipulations are administered by licensed chiropractic specialists. For instance, in manual manipulation, the hands of the practitioner are used to apply controlled forces along soft tissue regions of the spine or joints. In a related method, hydraulic force is applied to the spine and nearby muscles to encourage healing and to reduce swelling. Manipulation is usually performed without medications and under the supervision of a physician.
Chiropractors also provide other services such as prevention and management of low back pain, neck pain, jaw pain, dental care and pregnancy concerns. Some chiropractors even combine these services into one program that addresses the various symptoms of a variety of ailments. For example, chiropractic care for pregnancy concerns may include instruction on exercises that help women deal with muscular cramps, nausea and vomiting, headaches and menstrual irregularity. Other programs available through Chiropractic services may address such problems as high blood pressure, stroke, anxiety and depression.
In addition to spinal manipulative treatments, chiropractic treatments can also include treatments using devices known as traction equipment. Traction equipment is designed to apply gentle, repetitive movements or shocks to the muscles and joints that are causing pain. These movements relax the muscles and joints and allow the muscles and joints to heal themselves. The results of these treatments are not always immediate. Some treatments can take several weeks before the patient begins to notice any improvement.
It's important to select a chiropractor who is certified by the American College of Chiropractic. Your chiropractor will explain the body's alignment and how it is physically able to move. He or she will then make their diagnosis by conducting several tests, listening to your questions and carefully analyzing your symptoms. The chiropractor will then make appropriate adjustments to help you correct your problem.
If the chiropractor does feel that further adjustments are needed, he or she will place you under a general anesthesia. This will numb the area being treated and allow the doctor to use better tools, including spinal manipulation and ultrasound. A chiropractor can diagnose your condition, but you will ultimately be responsible for making sure that the treatment is effective. You must have confidence in your chiropractor if you wish to get the most benefit from your treatment.