Check out this cool video on how chiropractic works! If you still want to know more you when you're done, we've given you a lot more information on chiropractic below...

Chiropractic: Cheiros = Greek for hand; Praxis = to do/perform

To do by hand

Definition of Chiropractic by the World Health Organization [1]:

“A health care profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on general health. There is an emphasis on manual techniques, including joint adjustment and/or manipulation, with a particular focus on subluxations.”

Great... now how about a definition in plain English???

Chiropractic is a specialization within the health care profession that focuses primarily on the relationship between your nervous system and your musculoskeletal system. Since the nervous system has control over all the other systems in the body, chiropractors see this unique relationship between the nervous system and the rest of your body as the primary driver behind overall health.

Chiropractic’s greatest recognition and most valid evidence-based success comes in the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal complaints that include, but are not limited to, back pain, neck pain, headaches, and pain occurring in the joints of the arms or legs. Each year more and more patients are visiting chiropractors.

Doctors of Chiropractic (DC’s) – usually referred to as chiropractors – practice a hand-on, non-invasive, drug-free and surgery-free approach to healthcare. Chiropractors are considered portal-of-entry doctors for the healthcare system. As such they require tremendous proficiency in their diagnostic skills and must be trained to work within the established healthcare system by recommending appropriate referrals when necessary, using proper therapeutic or rehabilitative exercises, and providing nutritional or lifestyle counseling when needed. The benefits patients experience when under chiropractic care - known by its patients for over a century - are now being recognized in the medical community as current research begins to validate what chiropractic treatment offers.

The most common treatment procedure you'll see performed by a DC is known as a “chiropractic adjustment." An adjustment is a quick, painless, specific thrust applied to a vertebrae or its surrounding tissues in attempt to correct a misaligned vertebrae or a joint segment that has become restricted. The result of the adjustment is a very specific stimulus to the nervous system, allowing it to once again work unimpeded.

Injuries that cause this damage are divided into macrotrauma (trauma as a direct result from a singular event or injury) or microtrauma (trauma attributed to repetitive stress over an extended period of time). In either case, the injured tissues undergo different physical and chemical changes that can result in inflammation, pain, or diminished function. Adjustment of the affected joints helps restore mobility and alleviates pain in the surrounding tissues. Decreased pain reduces accompanying muscle tightness which in turn facilitates faster healing.

According to Gray's Anatomy (the medical anatomy textbook... not the TV show!), the nervous system is the master control system of the body which directly or indirectly coordinates the functions of every other system in the body. That means your muscles, your heart, your lungs, your digestive system, your immune system are all controlled by your nervous system.

Your nervous system consists of two parts: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The Central Nervous System (CNS) includes the brain, which is enclosed within the skull; and the spinal cord which is protected within the vertebral column. The Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) is made up of 31 pairs of spinal nerves which exit the spine through openings on both sides of the vertebral column; as well as all of the peripheral nerves that branch off from those spinal nerves and go out into your body to serve organs, tissues, blood vessels, muscles, etc.

Sensory information from the external environment, as well as the environment inside your body, is sent from these nerves through the spine and up to the brain to be interpreted. In the same manner, motor information and decisions processed in the brain go from the brain through the spine to effect certain outcomes. It’s a two-way flow of information. Chiropractors look to ensure that this flow of nerve signals is not impeded by removing subluxations of the spine.

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) provides the following definition of chiropractic: "Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts which is concerned with human health and disease processes. Doctors of Chiropractic are physicians who consider man as an integrated being and give special attention to the physiological and biochemical aspects including structural, spinal, musculoskeletal, neurological, vascular, psychological, nutritional, visceral, emotional and environmental relationships and are trained in diagnosis so they may treat patients effectively and make timely referral to appropriate health care providers.”

DC’s assess their patients’ overall health through comprehensive clinical examination, laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging and other diagnostic interventions to determine when chiropractic treatment is appropriate or inappropriate. Chiropractors possess a broad diagnostic knowledge base and are trained to recognize the various red flags of more serious underlying disorders. In these instances chiropractors will immediately refer patients to the appropriate health care provider. Often a condition might warrant co-management, employing chiropractic care in conjunction with treatment by other specialists from within the medical and health care profession. When these medical conditions exist, chiropractic care will complement and support ongoing medical treatment by relieving many of the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition. In many cases, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care is recommended as the preferred primary course of treatment. However, there are some instances where it’s determined that a patient is unsuitable for chiropractic care altogether.

1. WHO guidelines on basic training and safety in chiropractic.