Chiropractors practice a drug-free, manual approach to health care that includes patient assessment, diagnosis and treatment. In particular, chiropractors assess patients for disorders related to the spine, pelvis, extremity joints, and their effect on the nervous system. As a result of taking a physical assessment and patient history, chiropractors are able to provide a differential diagnosis for the patient’s presenting condition(s) and develop a comprehensive treatment/management plan.
Chiropractors are also trained to recommend therapeutic exercise, to utilize other non-invasive therapies, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.
Chiropractic adjustment is the most common form of treatment utilized by chiropractors in clinical practice. Also known as spinal manipulative therapy, adjustment is a non-invasive, manual procedure that utilizes the highly refined skills developed through four years of intensive chiropractic education. Adjustment is a carefully controlled procedure delivered by a skilled practitioner to dysfunctional spinal or extremity joints. The primary goal is to decrease pain, improve areas of reduced movement in the joints and supporting tissues, particularly of the spine and decrease muscle tightness or spasm through the restoration of normal mechanics and improved functioning of the spine, extremities and supporting soft tissue structures.
Adjustment rarely causes discomfort. However, as it is a manually applied therapy, patients may sometimes experience mild soreness or aching following treatment which usually resolves within 12 to 48 hours.
The chiropractor adapts the procedure to meet the specific needs of each patient. For example, the technique is modified when treating children, pregnant women and older patients. Patients typically note positive changes in their symptoms immediately following treatment. The vast majority of patients who seek chiropractic health care do so for complaints of the musculoskeletal system, most often for conditions affecting the spine such as low back pain, neck pain and headaches and research studies have demonstrated that chiropractic treatment is effective for these conditions.