Chiropractic care is a licensed health care profession that emphasizes the body’s ability to heal itself. Treatment typically involves manual therapy (especially spinal manipulation), but it may involve a variety of other therapies, such as therapeutic exercises, acupuncture, the application of vasopneumatic devices (cupping) or nutritional counseling. Modern chiropractic medicine also utilizes a broad range of FDA-approved medical devices to supplement patient treatment, such as therapeutic lasers, decompression tables and electromagnetic therapy devices.
Chiropractors approach patient care in a manner similar to that used in conventional medicine. They interview the patient, obtain a detailed health history, perform an examination, do tests, and develop a working diagnosis. They then develop a management plan, start treatment, and monitor the patient’s progress. Chiropractors are especially well known for their expertise in caring for patients with back pain, neck pain and headaches, particularly with their skilled manipulations or chiropractic adjustments. The manual treatment methods used by chiropractors range from stretching and sustained pressure to specific joint manipulations that involve a quick and gentle thrust. They also care for patients with a wide range of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system, including the entire system of muscles, ligaments, and joints. Chiropractors also counsel patients on diet, nutrition, exercise, healthy habits, and occupational and lifestyle modification. You can find additional information about chiropractic medicine at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at
Chiropractic medicine is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal pain and immobility. Although chiropractic care has an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects. The risks associated with chiropractic treatment, however, are very small in comparison to many other types of medical care. Many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic treatment, but some may experience mild soreness, stiffness or aching, just as they do after some forms of exercise. Current research shows that minor discomfort or soreness following spinal manipulation typically fades within 24 hours.
To practice as a chiropractor in the United States, individuals must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree, pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam, and have a state license. Many states also require chiropractors to pass an exam about state-specific laws, and all states require practicing chiropractors to take continuing education classes. Chiropractic education includes classes in basic sciences, such as anatomy and physiology, and supervised clinical experience in which students learn skills such as spinal assessment, adjustment techniques, and making diagnoses. Some chiropractors also complete postgraduate education in specialized fields, such as orthopedics or pediatrics. You can find additional information on this topic at the National Center for Complementary andIntegrative Health at
An adjustment (or manipulation) of a joint may result in the release of a gas bubble between the joints, which makes a popping sound. The same thing occurs when you “crack” your knuckles. The noise is caused by the change of pressure within the joint, which results in gas bubbles being released. There are nerve endings in and around the spinal joints that are stimulated when the joint is moved or mobilized. The stimulation of the nerve endings in the spinal joints can result in muscle relaxation and pain reduction. There is usually minimal, if any, discomfort involved.