The word “chiropractic” is derived from two Greek words: kheir and praktikis. In Latin, kheir becomes chiro. It refers to the hand. Praktikis, which looks similar to the English word, practice, means basically that. It is to practice or treat.
Chiropractors treat, with their hands, a range of physical complaints that are related to the body’s muscular, nervous, and skeletal systems. Chiropractors especially treat the spine and back pain associated with it.
Back pain is relieved through hand treatment that is based on science. While it focuses on your back pain, and aligning your spine, chiropractic is concerned with the entire body.
Chiropractors, the most popular of alternative health care providers, use a holistic approach in their treatment of back pain and other complaints.
Purpose of Spinal Manipulation
The science of chiropractic focuses mainly on spinal manipulation.
Spinal manipulation is intended to relieve back pain by applying controlled force to joints that do not move properly. The chiropractor uses his or her hands to mobilize, adjust, massage, or stimulate the spine and associated structures in order to relieve back pain.
Chiropractors believe the spine must be correctly aligned not only to relieve back pain, but to make the entire nervous system function as it should. Their belief is that the body can function and heal itself if the nervous system is not experiencing interference. The interference, such as that of back pain, impairs the body’s normal functions. It also lowers resistance to disease.
Why is the spine the one thing that must be aligned? Major nerve routes travel up and down the spine, making it the most common site of nervous interference.
Method of Spinal Manipulation
Chiropractors make “adjustments” to your spine when you have back pain. These adjustments involve application of controlled, but sudden force to a joint. They may, for example, arrange their hands carefully on your upper back, and then suddenly jerk the back in the desired direction.
Chiropractic is non-invasive. It never involves surgery for back pain or other complaints. Chiropractors simply apply the skills they have learned by using their hands to decrease back pain and improve range of motion.
Sketch of a Chiropractic Office Visit
When you first visit a chiropractic office for back pain, you may feel like a fish out of water. Don’t worry. Here is what will probably happen.
- You will be asked for a medical history, just as at other health care providers’ offices.
- You will be asked about your back pain.
- The chiropractor will conduct various examinations, especially related to your back pain.
- He or she may order laboratory tests to help pinpoint the cause of your back pain.
- You may have X-rays to show the spine’s position and alignment.
You will not be given medication. Chiropractors use a drug-free approach to back pain and other health care. They assess, diagnose, and treat with their hands. They are trained to align your spine, and recommend therapeutic exercises as well as nutritional and lifestyle changes for your back pain.
Other Chiropractic Treatments
In addition to spinal alignment and manual adjustments for back pain, chiropractors use treatments such as water therapy, light therapy, massage, ultrasound, electric impulses, acupuncture, and heat.