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What Does a Chiropractor Do?

written by: BStone • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 5/10/2011

There are many benefits of seeing a chiropractor, from pain relief to improving overall well-being. Learn about what a chiropractor does, and when this form of alternative medicine may be beneficial.

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    Fundamentals of Chiropractic Medicine

    Spine According to chiropractic medicine, when the spinal cord is not properly aligned, the body cannot function properly. Eventually, there is an increased potential for illness, and vulnerability to disease. Problems with the spinal column, known as subluxations, interfere with normal nervous system function and neurological messages sent from the brain to other parts of the body.

    Through spinal manipulation, a chiropractor may directly treat disorders relating to the musculoskeletal system or act as a complimentary therapy for conventional medical care. The primary benefits of chiropractic care address back and neck pain and joint problems, although many patients report improved feelings of overall well-being as well. At this point, it is a widely accepted form of medicine for bone and joint problems, particularly those that are pain-related. In both theory and practice however, it is a holistic healing method, which can be used not merely for musculoskeletal issues, but for reaching and maintaining optimal health.

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    The Goal of Care

    A chiropractor will first make a proper diagnosis. Pain or illness may not necessarily be linked to problems with the musculoskeletal system, in which case the doctor will refer a patient to another health care professional — perhaps a conventional physician, or another alternative medicine practitioner, such as a massage therapist or a naturopath. If chiropractic treatment is necessary, he or she will use their hands to adjust the spine, or other joints.

    Through years of study, a chiropractor is able to decipher how best to serve the body through manipulation and movement of the musculoskeletal system, directly impacting the nervous system, and thus the entire body. The goal of this type of care is to restore proper joint and nervous system function. In most cases, pain relief is experienced almost immediately. Many people have a positive initial, as well as long-term response, from treatment. It is possible to feel sore, for up to one day after work is done. The soreness may be similar to the pain felt after a workout. This is the only potential negative side effect. Chiropractic therapy is essentially a noninvasive, safe form of alternative medicine, for people of any age.

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    Benefits

    Like most holistic therapies, chiropractic medicine restores balance, albeit through the unique medium of the bones and joints. The more subtle benefits of chiropractic care, such as improving immune health and increasing energy, serve as the positive side effects of treatment. The core reasons for visiting a chiropractor include treating back and neck pain, joint problems, and headaches.

    Conventional physicians may refer patients with back injuries, or chronic issues, such as arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. A patient can also see a chiropractor for an initial consultation. Whatever the reasons for seeking this treatment, through addressing balance and overall well-being, chiropractic medicine can be beneficial to almost anyone.

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    Resources

    American Chiropractic Association <acatoday.org/index.cfm>.

    Homola, Samuel, D.C. "What a Rational Chiropractor Can Do for You." <chirobase.org/07Strategy/goodchiro.html>.

    Massachusetts Chiropractic Society <masschiro.org/AboutMCS.php>.

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    Photo Credit

    photo by: Bix Entro (CC/flickr) <flickr.com/photos/bixentro/343507261/>.

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    Disclaimer

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