What is Chiropractic, anyway?

The dictionary gives the definition of Chiropractic as a therapeutic system based primarily upon the interactions of the spine and nervous system, the method of treatment usually being to adjust the segments of the spinal column.


The medical dictionary gives the definition of Chiropractic as a system of therapy that utilizes the recuperative powers of the body and the relationship between the musculoskeletal structures and the functions of the body, particularly of the spinal column and the nervous system, in the restoration and maintenance of health.

Right. But what does that actually mean? In a nutshell: Doctors of Chiropractic believe that the body could heal itself if it got out of its own way. They practice a hands-on, drug free approach to health care that goes from patient examination and diagnosis; to treatment and recommended therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises; to providing nutritional and dietary lifestyle counseling. Chiropractic care is sought after most often for neuromusculoskeletal complaints, the aches and pains caused by the in-fighting of nerves, muscles, and bones. These include but aren’t limited to back pain, neck pain, headaches, foot pain, or pain in any joint in the arms and legs. If you have a pain in your body, then your nervous system is impaired and Chiropractic is a great place to start seeking help.

Wait, I thought Chiropractors “cracked bones,” what’s this about the nervous system? The nervous system is housed in the head and the spine: all the nerves that innervate the body leave from the gaps between the vertebrae in the spine. The spine is built to be a mobile spring, and movement is needed between each joint to keep us fully functional. So if the vertebrae are stopped from functioning and the individual joints lose their mobility, the nerves and muscles in the body will start to act up, and the body (you) will start to suffer. This kind of hypo-mobility—becoming restricted in movement—typically starts with a tissue injury.

Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event such as a car crash or improper lifting of an awkward object, or it can happen through repetitive stresses like sitting hunched over a computer or a desk for an extended period of time. No matter the cause, the injured tissue experiences physical and chemical changes that cause inflammation, reduced function, and pain for the unhappy individual. Here is where our Doctors come in! The most common therapeutic procedure performed by Doctors of Chiropractic, DC’s, is the chiropractic adjustment. The purpose of this adjustment is to restore joint mobility by applying a controlled force into joints that have lost their movement. This adjusts the affected joint and tissues, restoring the mobility and alleviating pain and muscle tightness and lets the injured tissues heal. And because nerves pass through our entire body, and muscles make up most of us, this kind of adjustment and relief can be applicable at every joint we have.

While sometimes a Chiropractic adjustment can be startling—which is why our Doctors take the time to explain exactly what they will be doing until you feel comfortable—the adjustment rarely causes discomfort. You may feel some slight muscles soreness and aching for a day or two, just like with certain forms of exercise, but the Doctor will proscribe the right follow-up care of ice or heat to help your joints settle back in where they belong. We also provide massage therapy along with our adjustments to help prepare your tissues to accept the adjustment. Longer massages are available and highly recommended if your tissues seem to be in the fight!

Diagnostic imaging (X-rays, MRIs) and other laboratory testing can be proscribed by the Doctor in order to determine if chiropractic care is appropriate or not for you. Chiropractic care cannot solely treat certain conditions, but can complement or support the medical team by helping to relieve the neuromusculoskeletal symptoms. Doctors of Chiropractic are primary care providers, and as such will readily refer their patients to the appropriate healthcare provider when necessary or when the condition merits co-management with other healthcare providers.