Chiropractic medicine focuses on musculoskeletal and nervous system disorders. Care is directed mainly at reducing back, neck and joint pain, as well as headaches.Chiropractic medicine offers numerous benefits to patients, including drug-free treatment for chronic and acute pain that is both safe and effective. However, this type of treatment has only recently been accepted by the mainstream medical community, and therefore insurance coverage for chiropractic treatment may not be comprehensive and many medical doctors remain reluctant to refer patients for spinal manipulation.



Function

Doctors of chiropractic medicine perform examinations of patients, provide a diagnosis, and establish a treatment plan that does not include drugs but instead focuses on hands-on therapeutic procedures, rehabilitative exercises, and nutritional and lifestyle changes. Most ailments are treated with a procedure called spinal manipulation, which helps to restore joint mobility through the use of controlled forced directed at hypomobile joints. Effective manipulation relieves pain, decreases muscle tension, and allows the healing of damaged tissues to take place.

Pros

Chiropractic medicine is a cost-effective and safe alternative to other forms of treatment for chronic pain, such as medication use and surgery. Spinal manipulation has been deemed an effective treatment for spinal pain, and has been proven to reduce pain, advance physical therapy progress, and decrease reliance on potentially addictive and harmful pain medications. The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research recommends chiropractic care as a first line treatment for acute low back pain in adults.

Cons

In some cases, various degrees of discomfort and/or stiffness may follow a chiropractic adjustment, but this discomfort typically resolves within one to two days. While not every health insurance plan currently offers coverage for chiropractic care, most larger insurance providers do cover all or some of the expenses related to treatment by a doctor of chiropractic medicine. However, because chiropractic treatment often involves multiple office visits, costs can quickly add up for those without insurance coverage. Frequent trips to the doctor’s office may be inconvenient for many people, especially for those dealing with acute pain or another disability, and chiropractic care is not suitable for all people. People with certain medical conditions, such as acute gout, bone cancer, excessive osteoporosis or existing bone or joint fractures may not be suitable candidates for spinal manipulation.

History

According to the American Chiropractic Association, chiropractic care can be dated back to the beginning of recorded history. Chinese and Greek texts from 2700 BC and 1500 BC mention the manipulation of the spine and lower extremities to reduce back pain. Chiropractic medicine began increasing in popularity in the United States during the late 1800s. Since that time, chiropractic care has become better recognized and respected throughout all 50 states and all over the world. Currently, many medical doctors work closely with doctors of chiropractic medicine to ensure their patient’s needs are met in the best, and least invasive, manner possible.

Potential

As acceptance of chiropractic care increases in the mainstream medical community, the number of chiropractors and the assortment of disorders treated by this form of medicine is expected to rise. Research into the effectiveness of chiropractic care as a treatment for numerous neurological and other disorders is currently underway, with clinical trials being conducted all around the United States. Growing concerns over long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and narcotic pain relievers will drive growing numbers of patients toward the hands-on, drug-free approach of chiropractic medicine.

References and Resources

American Chiropractic Association