An Introduction to Chiropractic
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Natural Medicine Chiropractic Myths

One of the most natural forms of health care is chiropractic. However, because of philosophical differences, misunderstanding and economic competition, countless myths have been circulated about chiropractic. Even so, millions of people are choosing chiropractic care. Why? Here is the truth about chiropractic.


Chiropractic Doctors Are Real Doctors.
Like other types of doctors, chiropractic doctors meet stringent licensing requirements, follow a strict code of ethics, and are approved by governmental agencies.


Chiropractic Is Scientific.
A growing body of evidence and research show chiropractic treatment is an effective, natural, nonsurgical method of promoting good health and treating a variety of ailments. For example, the 1993 Manga Report concludes that chiropractic care is more effective and more cost effective than other treatments for low back pain; also, the guidelines from the Federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research say spinal manipulation is an effective, safe treatment for relieving low back pain. In 1990, a study in the British Medical Journal concluded that chiropractic treatment was significantly more effective than medical care and had longer lasting benefits.


Chiropractic Is Safe.
This year untold thousands of people will die from medically prescribed drugs and medicine. Of the millions of patients benefiting from chiropractic this year, only a handful will have a negative newsworthy experience. In fact, because of its safety, malpractice insurance premiums for chiropractic doctors are extraordinarily low. Chiropractic patients are not required to get chiropractic care forever. Each patient receives care specific to his or her needs or injuries. However, like regular dental checkups, once patients experience the benefits of chiropractic care, many choose to continue. How long you decide to benefit from chiropractic care is up to you. The truth is, chiropractic is a conservative, drug free approach to better health that has helped millions of people since 1895.

Chiropractic Doctors Are Well Educated.
After the required pre-med undergraduate studies and a bachelors of science, today's Doctor of Chiropractic completes an additional four-year program at a chiropractic college. Today, chiropractic doctors get about the same number or more of college classroom hours as medical practitioners. Look at these basic educational requirements of both chiropractic colleges and medical schools. Each has its own specialties, but the hours of classroom instruction are about the same.

Basic Science Comparisons
Chiropractic Hours* (Minimum) Subject Medical Hours* (Minimum)
456 Anatomy/Embryology 215
243 Physiology 174
296 Pathology** 507
161 Chemistry 100
145 Microbiology 145
408 Diagnosis*** 113
149 Neurology 171
271 X-ray 13
56 Psychology/Psychiatry 323
66 Obstetrics & Gynecology 284
168 Orthopedics 2
2,419 Total Hours 2,047

* The class hours for basic science comparisons were compiled and averaged following a review of curricula of 18 chiropractic colleges and 22 medical schools, based on the 1988-89 Association of American Medical Colleges Curriculum Directory (AAMC), Vickie Ahari, Editor, and the Chiropractic College and Admissions Curriculum Directory 1988-89, K. Magarian and K. McNamee, editors.
** Pathology includes Geriatrics and Pediatrics.
*** Includes EENT and Dermatology.

What Does a Doctor of Chiropractic Do?

The primary treatment your chiropractor will provide for spinal dysfunction (spinal misalignment or subluxation) is a procedure known as vertebral or spinal "adjustment". An adjustment is a gentle technique in which the chiropractor skillfully applies the right pressure to an area of the spine (or other joint) that is not functioning properly or is out of alignment. The result is reduced pain and inflammation, improved nervous system communication and restored function- not just to the injured area, but throughout the body.

In addition to adjustment or manipulation, patients may also receive a treatment plan that uses other helpful procedures, controlled exercise, nutritional counseling, acupuncture and other professional advice that may improve overall health.

Patient progress under chiropractic care will be carefully monitored. Subjective improvements and objective clinical findings will be noted, and treatment will be modified to meet the patient's changing condition. Should it be found that another type of health care would benefit healing, a referral to the appropriate provider will be made.

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Research Supports Chiropractic

Although empirical evidence suggests that chiropractic is a safe and effective means of treatment for pain and natural healing, a growing body of scientific data supports chiropractic's effectiveness. The studies listed below are a tiny fraction of the studies published on the efficacy or benefits of chiropractic.

The RAND Study - The RAND Corporation, one of the most prestigious centers for research in public policy and health, released a study in 1991 which found that spinal manipulation is appropriate for specific kinds of low back pain.

The Koes Clinical Trial - A 1992 Dutch project compared manipulative therapy (chiropractic) and physiotherapy (physical therapy) for the treatment of persistent back and neck complaints. After 12 months, the manipulative therapy group showed greater improvement in the primary complaint as well as in physical function, with fewer visits.

The AHCPR Guideline - In 1994, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), now the Agency on Health Research and Quality (AHRQ), an arm of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, released a clinical practice guideline for the treatment of acute low back problems. The guidelines recommend the use of spinal manipulation as an effective method of symptom control. The researchers developing the guideline found that

"manipulation... is safe and effective for patients in the first month of acute low back symptoms without radiculopathy (disease of the spinal nerve roots)."
Persons suffering with radiating nerve pain (leg or arm pain) may also greatly benefit from chiropractic treatment.

The Manga Study - This study researched both the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness for the chiropractic management of low-back pain. Dr. Pran Manga, the study's medical researcher and author, found:

"on the evidence, particularly the most scientifically valid clinical studies, spinal manipulation applied by chiropractors is shown to be more effective than alternative treatment for LBP (low-back pain). Many medical therapies are of questionable validity or are clearly inadequate."

The Duke Study - Based on a literature review of several headache treatment options, a panel of 19 multidisciplinary experts concluded that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for cervicogenic headaches and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication. Researchers concluded the following:

" Manipulation appeared to result in immediate improvement in headache severity when used treat episodes of cervicogenic headache when compared with a attention-placebo control. Furthermore, when compared to soft-tissue therapies (massage), a course of manipulation treatments resulted in sustained improvement in headache frequency and severity."

The Boline Study - This randomized controlled trial compared six weeks of spinal manipulative treatment of tension-type headache by chiropractors to six weeks of medical treatment with amitriptyline, a medication often prescribed for the treatment of severe tension headache pain. Researchers found that chiropractic patients experienced fewer side-effects (4.3%) than the amitriptyline group (82.1 %) and while both were effective during the treatment phase of the study only the chiropractic patients continued to report fewer headaches when treatment ended.

The Nelson Migraine Study - This study compared chiropractic spinal manipulation to amitriptyline (a medication often prescribed for the treatment of headache) for the treatment of migraine headache. The researchers found that

"spinal manipulation seemed to be as effective as a well-established and efficacious treatment (amitriptyline), and on the basis of a benign side effects profile, it should be considered a treatment option for patients with frequent migraine headaches."

The researchers also found that in the weeks immediately following treatment, patients who had received spinal manipulation had a 42°/a reduction in headache frequency, compared to only 24% of those who took amitriptyline.

The Colic Study - When researchers compared spinal manipulation for the treatment of infantile colic to dimethicone (a medication for colic), they came to a simple conclusion: "Spinal manipulation is effective in relieving infantile colic."

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Children and Chiropractic

Healthy Kids Club Video

Spinal problems that go undetected or neglected in children become more serious problems in adults.

Chiropractic adjusting techniques are modified to fit a child's size, weight and unique spinal problem. The spinal malfunction from falling when learning to walk can often be helped with chiropractic. Parents often report that their children seem healthier than other kids their age. Regular chiropractic checkups are especially beneficial as head support and natural spinal curves are established.

If neglected, these bumps and falls during this period of rapid growth may lead to serious spinal deformities later in life. This can set the stage for scoliosis, "growing pains" and a weakened immune system response.

The vertebrae that protect the spinal cord can lose their normal motion or position from a variety of childhood activities. Delicate nerve tissue can be damaged, resulting in interference with the brain's ability to control associated organs and tissues. Lost muscle tone weakens the important support of the spine. Discs, blood vessels, and other soft tissues can swell and become inflamed. The body responds with bone spurs and abnormal bony growth, and various systems may not be present, yet optimum health and well-being are compromised. Doctors of Chiropractic are the only health care professionals dedicated to the elimination and prevention of the Vertebral Subluxation Complex.

Even with natural childbirth methods, the birth process can be one of the most traumatic events of your child's life. The spine, which houses the important nerve pathways of the spinal cord, can be injured during delivery.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) research suggests that spinal damage can interfere with the nerves that control a newborn's ability to breathe. More and more parents are having their newborns checked for spine-related problems immediately after birth. Uncorrected spinal problems caused by the birth process are often quite apparent during examination later in life.

Children can benefit from chiropractic care before they are born, by having a mother who receives prenatal chiropractic checkups. A healthy diet, proper exercise, a stress-free environment, and a chiropractic lifestyle help prepare for a happy, healthy baby.

The Chiropractic Lifestyle

A continuing schedule of regular chiropractic checkups can help detect, correct, and maintain optimum spinal and nervous system function. Find out how chiropractic care, combined with proper diet, exercise, and other aspects of good health and personal hygiene can enhance your well-being and help you enjoy life to the fullest. Ask your Doctor of Chiropractic for a care program designed for your age, condition, and lifestyle

Is Chiropractic Right For You?

The choice of health care provider is an important one. Concerns for most people include the concern and compassion of their doctor, the education of the practitioner, the ability of the practitioner to make an accurate diagnosis, and whether other patients would recommend that doctor. Chiropractors can easily hold their own, and often surpass their colleagues from other health care professions.

A Study of Education
This study examined the education provided in medical school to that provided in chiropractic school. The researchers found that "considerable commonality exists between chiropractic and medical programs." Surprisingly, it was found that more time is spent in basic and clinical sciences in chiropractic education. Not surprisingly, chiropractic education spends more time in nutrition, while medical education spends more time in public health. In addition, little time in medical school is devoted to the study of the neuromusculoskeletal (nerves, joints, and muscles) system and related health problems; this is a major focus in chiropractic education.
The Abt Study
Abt Associates of Cambridge, MA convened two expert panels (one panel primarily of medical doctors and the other entirely chiropractic), and asked the panels to investigate the role of the Doctor of Chiropractic as primary health care provider. Both panels agreed that, with respect to a list of 53 primary care functions found to occur in daily medical offices, chiropractors are capable of making diagnoses in 92% of these activities. The researchers concluded that there is an agreement between allopathic and chiropractic physicians in terms of the scope of primary care activities suggesting that there is opportunity for chiropractors and medical doctors to work together on patient care and organizational strategy.
As health care choices become increasingly diverse, and as consumers are becoming more informed and more responsible for designing a personal plan for pain relief and better health, it is clear that chiropractic will be a choice for many. How about you?

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