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What is 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, nutritional, emotional and environmental relationships. The practice and procedures which may be employed by Doctors of Chiropractic are based on the academic and clinical training received in and through accredited chiropractic colleges and include, but are not limited to, the use of current diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Such procedures specifically include the adjustment and manipulation of the articulations and adjacent tissues of the human body, particularly of the spinal column. Included is the treatment of intersegmental aberrations for alleviation of related functional disorders. Chiropractic is a drug-free, non-surgical science and, as such, does not include pharmaceuticals or incisive surgery. Chiropractors are first-contact physicians who possess the diagnostic skills to differentiate health conditions that are amenable to their management from those conditions that require referral or co-management. Chiropractors provide conservative management of neuromusculoskeletal disorders and related functional clinical conditions including, but not limited to, back pain, neck pain and headaches. Chiropractors are expert providers of spinal and other therapeutic manipulation/adjustments. They also utilize a variety of manual, mechanical and electrical therapeutic modalities. Chiropractors also provide patient evaluation and instructions regarding disease prevention and health promotion through proper nutrition, exercise and lifestyle modification among others.

  Danial David Palmer

History
Chiropractic is a natural form of health care with a rich history. Spinal manipulation, chiropractic's primary treatment, is used instead of drugs or surgery to promote the body's natural healing process. One of the earliest indications of soft tissue manipulation is demonstrated by the ancient Chinese Kong Fou Document written about 2700 B.C., which was brought to the Western World by missionaries. Chiropractic became more recognized about 100 years ago when Daniel David Palmer gave an "adjustment" to what was felt to be a misplaced vertebra in the upper spine of a deaf janitor. The janitor then observed that his hearing improved. The word "chiropractic" is derived from the Greek words "cheir" and "praktkos" meaning "done by hand". From these simple beginnings, chiropractic became more sophisticated as a formal educational program evolved, requirements by the schools were developed, and state and governing laws were established.

Benefits of Chiropractic
Thirty-one million Americans have low back pain at any given time. One half of all working Americans admit to having back symptoms each year. One third of all Americans over age 18 had a back problem in the past five years severe enough for them to seek professional help. And the cost of this care is estimated to be a staggering $50 Billion yearly--and that's just for the more easily identified costs!. These are just some of the astounding facts about Americans and their miserable backs! Is there any wonder why some experts estimate that as many as 80% of all of us will experience a back problem at some time in our lives?. Because back problems are this common it's probably going to happen to you too! Shouldn't you find out what to do about it before it happens rather than after? Why wait until you're hurting to learn about your treatment options? When you're hurting you may not give this important decision the time and attention it needs to make the best choice. Here are the facts about manipulation as a treatment for back problems: Manipulation is one of several established forms of treatment used for back problems. Used primarily by Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) for the last century, manipulation has been largely ignored by most others in the health care community until recently. Now, with today's growing emphasis on treatment and cost effectiveness, manipulation is receiving much more widespread attention. In fact, after an extensive study of all currently available care for low back problems, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research--a federal government research organization--recommended that low back pain suffers choose the most conservative care first. And it recommended spinal manipulation as the ONLY safe and effective, DRUGLESS form of initial professional treatment for acute low back problems in adults!

As the recent Federal Agency for Health Policy and Research (AHCPR report states, "In the areas of training, practice and research, chiropractic has emerged from the periphery of the health care system and is playing an increasingly important role in discussions of health care policy." And, notes a March 1998 article in Business and Health magazine, "Many companies say chiropractic coverage has lowered their medical and workers' comp costs, while raising overall health and productivity. 'It's one of the best benefits possible from a quality, quantity and pricing perspective,' says George McGregor, president of [a firm that is a third-party administrator]." The article also cites an Oregon study, which found that median work time lost for employees with back injuries who used chiropractic care was only 9 days as compared with 34.5 days for workers who used medical care. Quick relief of symptoms and sustained effectiveness have long attracted consumers to chiropractic care. In fact, in just one year -- 1997 -- more than 20 million adults used chiropractic services. The 1994 AHCPR guidelines for low-back pain concluded that spinal manipulation, chiropractic's primary treatment technique, is one of only three treatments whose effectiveness is substantiated by rigorous research. According to a 1992 RAND Corp. study, patients see a chiropractor primarily for low back pain and neck pain, though many seek chiropractic care for mid-back pain, extremity problems, headaches and other symptoms as well. Because back pain is so pervasive in our society, a recent study published in the British Medical Journal pointing out that back pain doesn't go away that easily confirmed what chiropractors have always known. Only 25 percent of low back pain sufferers had fully recovered 12 months after their first visit to a general practitioner, the study said. This low number is in conflict with the commonly-held notion that low back pain episodes go away by themselves after a month. "This hardly comes as a surprise to low back pain sufferers who have been told by their medical doctors not to worry - the pain will go away on its own," said Dr. Michael Pedigo, president of the American Chiropractic Association. "In many cases, further treatment is necessary." Due to years of criticism -- and even an illegal boycott by the American Medical Association -- chiropractic training was sometimes called into question. However, the fact remains, chiropractors must complete a minimum of 6 and, on average, 7 years of college and post-graduate study to earn their degrees. Their education includes at least 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience, and as much -- and sometimes more than -- course work in anatomy and physiology as most medical doctors. After they receive their degrees from one of the nation's 17 accredited chiropractic colleges, they have to pass rigorous exams and be licensed by the state before they can open a practice. The practice of chiropractic is licensed in all 50 states, and in 1994 there were approximately 50,000 chiropractors licensed in the United States. This number is expected to double by the year 2010, according to the 1997 AHCPR report.

Patient satisfaction with chiropractic care has consistently rated higher than traditional medical care for low-back pain. A significant recent study published in Spine magazine found that "compared to those who sought care from medical doctors, those who sought care from chiropractors were more likely to feel that treatment was helpful, more likely to be satisfied with their care, and less likely to seek care from another provider for that same episode of pain."

Numerous studies, including an earlier study published in the British Medical Journal, found chiropractic care to be effective in the long-term treatment of low back pain. The study stated, "chiropractic almost certainly confers worthwhile, long-term benefit in comparison with hospital outpatient management. Chiropractic patients seem to care little if their low back pain is acute, chronic, or recurring. They are looking for the best relief from their pain, and they want relief without drugs or surgery. Millions of Americans have found chiropractic to be the best solution. It is also important to point out that chiropractic is one of the safest forms of treatment available today. According to a study by the Rand Corporation, a serious adverse reaction from cervical manipulation occurs once in 1 million manipulations. Complication rates for manipulation of the lumbar region of the spine are even lower. When compared to the number of illnesses and deaths that will occur this year from the appropriate use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, the number of serious complications from chiropractic treatment is extremely low. A study published in the April 15, 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that more than 2 million Americans become seriously ill every year from reactions to correctly-prescribed drugs and 106,000 die from those side effects. Doctors of chiropractic are educated as primary care providers and are extensively trained to diagnosis health care problems, treat the problems when they are within their scope of practice and refer patients to other health care providers when appropriate.

I have given the basics as to chiropractic here, but there is much more as to the effects of the spinal adjustment on the nervous system than space here permits. In fact a small percentage of the chiropractors in this area utilize and are trained in far more than just chiropractic. Nutrition and physical therapy, exercise, a varriety of muscle techiques round out the approach of many Doctors of Chiropractic enabling us to effect far more than just pain relief.

I can be reached at the Wholistic Health Center of Quechee, 802-296-6030 or email Randy Schaetzke D.C., D.I.B.A.K.


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