Chiropractic is the most prevalent form of alternative health care in the world and the third largest doctoral-level health care profession after medicine and dentistry. Last year more than 30 million Americans visited Doctors of Chiropractic for a variety of conditions.
Chiropractic deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health. Spinal manipulation or adjustment is the primary treatment modality.
The Origin and History of Chiropractic
The roots of chiropractic care can be traced to writings from China and Greece in 2700 B.C. and 1500 B.C., which mention spinal manipulation and the maneuvering of the lower extremities to ease low back pain. Hippocrates, the Greek physician who lived from 460 to 357 B.C., wrote, "Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases".
In 1895, Daniel David Palmer founded the chiropractic profession in Davenport, Iowa and in 1897 established the Palmer School of Chiropractic, which has continued to be one of the most prominent chiropractic colleges in the nation.
Throughout the twentieth century, Doctors of Chiropractic gained legal recognition in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. A continuing recognition and respect for the chiropractic profession in the United States has led to growing support for chiropractic care all over the world.
Evidence for the Effectiveness of Chiropractic
Research has shown numerous benefits of chiropractic in terms of efficacy, cost-effectiveness, and safety.
The forte of chiropractic care is in relieving back pain. Thirty-one million Americans have low back pain at any given time, and it has been estimated that 80% of us will experience a back problem at some point in our lives. One half of all working Americans have back symptoms each year and one third of all Americans over age 18 have had a back problem in the past five years severe enough for them to seek professional help. The cost of this care is around $50 billion yearly.
For acute low-back symptoms without radiculopathy, it was reported in Clinical Practice Guidelines, AHCPR (1994) that spinal manipulation is effective in reducing pain and speeding recovery within the first month of symptoms. For chronic low-back problems a study published in the journal Spine in 1997 reported that manipulation is more effective than placebo treatment or usual care by the general practitioner, bed rest, analgesics or massage. Studies reported in the British Medical Journal in 1992 and 1995 reported that manipulative therapy and physiotherapy are better than general medical and placebo treatment for relief of low back pain and that manipulative therapy is slightly better than physiotherapy after 12 months. Relief of low back pain in all patients at three years was 29% more effective in those treated by chiropractors than in those treated in hospitals. The Canadian Manga Report in 1993 maintained that chiropractic care is the most effective treatment for back pain and should be fully integrated into the government's health care system.
Chiropractic manipulation also relieves headaches. In the Duke Evidence Report in 2001 researchers found that cervical spine manipulation was associated with significant improvement headache relief in trials involving patients with neck pain and/or neck dysfunction. The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reported a study in 1995 that demonstrated spinal manipulative therapy outperformed drug therapy.
Chiropractic also has many benefits for the elderly. A study published in 1996 in Topics in Clinical Chiropractic showed that elderly chiropractic users were less likely to be hospitalized or in a nursing home, less likely to use prescription drugs, and more likely to be mobile, exercise, and report a better health status.
Chiropractic and the Healthcare System
Doctors of Chiropractic complete 90 credit hours of pre-medical undergraduate college education, followed by four to five years at a chiropractic college whose course of study is approved by an accrediting agency fully recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The professional school curriculum includes four to five years of study with a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience, including rigorous course work in anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry. Thorough training is obtained in differential diagnosis, radiology and therapeutic techniques. Approximately 555 hours are devoted to adjustive techniques and spinal manipulation. In addition, chiropractic graduates must pass national and state board exams and meet all state licensing requirements. Doctors of Chiropractic are licensed to practice in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in many nations around the world.
This extensive education prepares Doctors of Chiropractic to diagnose and treat health care problems within their scope of practice. Chiropractors refer patients to other health care practitioners when appropriate, and medical doctors are increasingly referring patients to chiropractors as well. As one example of this cooperation, the American Academy of Spine Physicians consists of chiropractors and neurosurgeons dedicated to encouraging dialogue and clinical interaction between the two professions.
Finally, chiropractic care is cost effective. The 1993 Manga study showed that chiropractic management of low-back pain would save hundreds of millions of dollars annually with regard to work disability payments and direct health care costs. A 1996 article in Medical Care also maintained that chiropractic care for common low back conditions costs substantially less than traditional medical treatment and "deserves careful consideration" by managed care executives. Most health and accident insurances have some form of coverage for chiropractic care and chiropractors enjoy low malpractice insurance rates.
In summary, chiropractic has an important part to play in the health of the individual and our society. Huntingdon County has several practitioners trained and dedicated to improving your health and well-being. We look forward to helping our community stay active and well.
The Huntingdon Health and Wellness Association makes no medical claims or recommendations. Check with your doctor about your specific health care needs.