Chiropractic focuses on disorders of the neuro-musculo-skeletal system and the effects of these disorders on The Human Movement System. Chiropractic care is used most often to treat complaints, including but not limited to neck pain, back pain, upper and lower extremity conditions, and headaches. Doctors of chiropractic may assess patients through clinical examination, laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging and other diagnostic interventions to determine when chiropractic treatment is appropriate or when it is not appropriate.
The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as “manipulation,” also called “chiropractic adjustment.” The purpose of manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypomobile (restricted in their movement), as a result of a tissue injury. Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain and diminished function.
Manipulation of the affected joints and tissues restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and allowing tissues to heal. In addition to joint manipulation, chiropractors may also perform soft tissue manipulation and corrective exercises as well as provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.
Chiropractic treatments rarely cause discomfort. However, patients may sometimes experience mild soreness or aching following treatment (as with some forms of exercise) that usually resolves within 12 to 48 hours. Chiropractors will readily refer patients to the appropriate health care providers when chiropractic care is not suitable for the patient’s condition, or the condition warrants co-management in conjunction with other members of the health care team.