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What is Chiropractic? 7 Fast Facts

Written by Dr. Group, DC Founder
A chiropractor performing back adjustments on his patient.

Chiropractic care has become a common and recommended treatment for many ailments. It's often covered by health insurance and the US government offers chiropractic care for members of the armed services; a licensed chiropractor is even stationed in the Capitol building! [1] Do you visit a chiropractor? If not, the following fast facts will give you good reason to start.

Chiropractic Care Facts

1. What is Chiropractic?

With an emphasis on promoting balance throughout the body, chiropractic treatments typically involve quick thrusts, or adjustments, to realign and relieve pressure and stress. [2] [3] A syringe-looking device, known as an activator, may also be used to deliver quick bursts. The practice as we know it today, which was was founded in 1895, was originally coined as "a science of healing without drugs." However, the roots of chiropractic, also known as manual therapy, have been practiced all across the world for at least 2000 years.

2. Chiropractic is Real Medicine

In the 1990’s, the chiropractic industry achieved professional autonomy and was granted statutory self-regulation. [4] Around 2000, a study compared chiropractic education to that of medical students and found the programs to have more similarities than differences – clinical sciences included. [5] Clearly, the US government echoes the benefits, for there is a chiropractor stationed at the Capitol for members of Congress.

3. Chiropractic is Worldwide

In the United States, spending on chiropractic care rose from 1996 to 2005. [6] That trend has continued. Healthcare expenditures for professional services, including chiropractic, totaled $76.4 billion in 2012, a 4.5% increase over 2011. [7] The industry is fully expected to continue its growth, at least partially because of increased insurance coverage and offerings by the military.

4. There's More Chiropractors Now Than Ever

The number of chiropractors in the US steadily increased until 2004, at which time there were nearly 53,000. [6] During the following years, the total diminished slightly but a 2010 study projected an 18-20% increase over the next decade. [8] That's just in the United States. Worldwide, chiropractors practice in over 100 countries and counting. [9]

5. Chiropractic Can Help Back Pain

Chronic back pain is one of the most common, debilitating conditions for which many people desperately seek relief. Although back pain has a number of causes, in general, most people report positive outcomes with chiropractic care. [10] In fact, persons suffering from chronic back pain who experience relief after the first visit typically report continued improvement over the following 3 months. These results are supported by a 2000-2010 literature review which noted that chiropractic care promotes physical health. [11] Low-force techniques are even safe and useful for geriatric patients. [12]

6. Chiropractic Improves Many Conditions

Chiropractic is beneficial for a number of ailments and conditions, including:

  • Pregnancy - Clinical studies have reported that pregnant women may benefit from chiropractic services for headache and heartburn. [13] [14]
  • Respiratory Health - Research has shown chiropractic to be effective at supporting respiratory health, especially for children. [15] [16] And, spinal manipulation has been reported to support lung function in older persons with COPD. [17]
  • Colic - Research from the United Kingdom suggests that manual therapy can help colicky babies. [18] [19]

7. Encourages a Healthy Doctor-Patient Relationship

When the Northwestern College of Chiropractic surveyed patients, 92% reported that chiropractic services improved their health. [20] Furthermore, the outcomes typically exceed patient expectations and many people improve quicker than expected. [21] Much of the success is due to the fact that chiropractors encourage an open dialogue to identify and establish treatment goals.

Is Chiropractic Right for You?

For decades, patients have had great success with chiropractic care; outcomes which are supported by modern, clinical research. But, as with all medical care, quality matters. Ask around and research local providers. Don't be scared to visit with several in order to find the one who is right for you. Additionally, check with your health insurance. Many providers offer care coverage and may be able to steer you toward a good chiropractor.

References (21)
  1. Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. "Integration of Chiropractic Care and VA/Military Facilities." (last accessed 01-20-2014)
  2. Staud R. Effectiveness of CAM therapy: understanding the evidence." Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2011 Feb;37(1):9-17. doi: 10.1016/j.rdc.2010.11.009. Epub 2010 Dec 3.
  3. Crawford JP. Chiropractic intervention in the treatment of joint and soft tissue disorders." Can J Appl Physiol. 1999 Jun;24(3):279-89.
  4. Tyreman S. "Values in complementary and alternative medicine." Med Health Care Philos. 2011 May;14(2):209-17. doi: 10.1007/s11019-010-9297-5.
  5. Coulter I, Adams A, Coggan P, Wilkes M, Gonyea M. "A comparative study of chiropractic and medical education." Altern Ther Health Med. 1998 Sep;4(5):64-75.
  6. Davis MA, Davis AM, Luan J, Weeks WB. "The supply and demand of chiropractors in the United States from 1996 to 2005." Altern Ther Health Med. 2009 May-Jun;15(3):36-40.
  7. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Expenses. "National Health Expenditures 2012 Highlights." (last accessed 01-20-2014)
  8. Global Industry Analysts, Inc. "Chiropractic Care in the US to Reach US$12.53 Billion by 2015, According to New Report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc." (last accessed 01-20-2014)
  9. World Federation of Chiropractic. "The Current Status of the Chiropractic Profession." (last accessed 01-20-2014)
  10. Lall M. "Chiropractic management of back pain." Aust Fam Physician. 1983 May;12(5):355-8.
  11. Parkinson L, Sibbritt D, Bolton P, van Rotterdam J, Villadsen I. "Well-being outcomes of chiropractic intervention for lower back pain: a systematic review." Clin Rheumatol. 2013 Feb;32(2):167-80. doi: 10.1007/s10067-012-2116-z. Epub 2012 Nov 14.
  12. Sawyer CE, Ramlow J. "Attitudes of chiropractic patients: a preliminary survey of patients receiving care in a chiropractic teaching clinic." J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1984 Sep;7(3):157-63.
  13. Alcantara J, Cossette M. "Intractable migraine headaches during pregnancy under chiropractic care." Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2009 Nov;15(4):192-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2009.03.005. Epub 2009 May 2.
  14. Peterson C. "A case study of chiropractic management of pregnancy-related heartburn with postulated fetal epigenome implications." Explore (NY). 2012 Sep-Oct;8(5):304-8. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2012.06.001.
  15. Pepino VC, Ribeiro JD, Ribeiro MA, de Noronha M, Mezzacappa MA, Schivinski CI. "Manual therapy for childhood respiratory disease: a systematic review." J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2013 Jan;36(1):57-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2012.12.004.
  16. Miller AL. "The etiologies, pathophysiology, and alternative/complementary treatment of asthma." Altern Med Rev. 2001 Feb;6(1):20-47.
  17. Dougherty PE, Engel RM, Vemulpad S, Burke J. "Spinal manipulative therapy for elderly patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a case series." J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2011 Jul-Aug;34(6):413-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.05.004. Epub 2011 Jun 24.
  18. Miller JE, Newell D, Bolton JE. "Efficacy of chiropractic manual therapy on infant colic: a pragmatic single-blind, randomized controlled trial." J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2012 Oct;35(8):600-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2012.09.010.
  19. Aase K, Blaakær J. "Chiropractic care of infants with colic lacks evidence." Ugeskr Laeger. 2013 Feb 11;175(7):424-8.
  20. Killinger LZ. "Chiropractic and geriatrics: a review of the training, role, and scope of chiropractic in caring for aging patients." Clin Geriatr Med. 2004 May;20(2):223-35.
  21. Sigrell H. "Expectations of chiropractic treatment: what are the expectations of new patients consulting a chiropractor, and do chiropractors and patients have similar expectations?" J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2002 Jun;25(5):300-5.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.


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