Chiropractic Care: Is It for You?

More than 30 million Americans use chiropractic care. See if it's right for you.
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Understanding Chiropractic Care

Is chiropractic care for you? You might be wondering this, given the growing popularity of this "alternative" healthcare option. And, you may be surprised to learn just how mainstream chiropractic has become as a healthcare option. Most commonly used to relieve pain, chiropractic care is a noninvasive, nonsurgical practice that does not involve using medication.

Use the important tips below to better understand what chiropractic is and to help you figure out if trying this healthcare option makes sense for you. Also, be sure to inform all your healthcare providers of the various types of care and treatments you are receiving, as well as the medications you are taking.

What Is a Chiropractor?

Doctors of chiropractic, also known as chiropractors or chiropractic physicians, are trained to use a hands-on therapy called manipulation, or adjustment of the spine, as the centerpiece of their clinical care. Treatments using spinal manipulation date back to ancient Greece, but the modern practice of chiropractic was founded in the U.S. in the 1890s.

Today's practitioners are trained through accredited chiropractic colleges and must have a state license to practice. It's important to know that chiropractors aren't licensed to perform major surgery or prescribe medications, and their overall scope of practice -- including laboratory tests and other diagnostic procedures -- varies by state. Check with your state's department of professional regulation if you want to know the full extent of care a chiropractor is permitted to offer in your state.

What Is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic differs from traditional Western medicine in how practitioners diagnose, classify, and treat medical problems. Core philosophies of this healing art focus on two key principles: the body's powerful ability for self-healing, and the relationship between the function of the spine and the role chiropractic theory believes it plays in a person's overall well-being.

If you choose to seek chiropractic care, you can expect the practitioner to first take your health history. Then, a physical examination with a special focus on your spine will follow. Other diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, may be recommended. If the practitioner believes chiropractic care will improve your symptoms, he or she will offer you a treatment plan.

Therapy typically focuses on adjustments to the spine, which usually involves the practitioner applying controlled and swift pressure to a specific joint on the spine. The purpose is to broaden the range of motion and improve quality of movement in that general area.

Though most of the treatment will center on the manipulations, many chiropractors will offer a broader treatment plan. This may include heat and ice, ultrasound, dietary supplements, and counseling about diet, weight loss, and other lifestyle improvements the patient can make to be symptom-free as well as for maintaining general good health.

Continued on page 2:  Practically Mainstream


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