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About Chiropractic

Chiropractic is the art and science of detecting and correcting subluxations. A subluxation is when you have a bone in your spine that is misaligned slightly or isn’t moving and functioning properly.  A subluxation causes pressure on your nerves and causes them to function abnormally, leading to pain, muscle spasm, or disease.

The only way you will be as healthy as you deserve to be, is when all the joints of your spine are functioning properly, allowing your nervous system to communicate back and forth with all the tissues and organs of your body.  That’s the purpose of chiropractic adjustments.

The practice of chiropractic is based upon the principles contained in this definition. The Doctor of Chiropractic, D.C., also utilizes his/her judgment and skills developed through a comprehensive professional education which is provided in institutions accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Chiropractic Education as well as by regional accrediting agencies. All of these accrediting bodies are recognized by the United States Department of Education.

The doctor of chiropractic is educated in the basic clinical and chiropractic sciences, in other health-related subjects, and in appropriate physical, clinical, laboratory and radiological investigative procedures. The D.C. is recognized in federal legislation by the governments of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In addition, chiropractic is recognized by agencies of federal and state governments which cover services by doctors of chiropractic under the state workers’ compensation programs, Medicare, Medicaid, federal workers’ compensation laws, and most other federal employees’ health benefits programs. Chiropractic services also are tax deductible and covered by all major health insurance carriers.

Chiropractic is legally recognized or practiced without sanctions in many other nations throughout the world.

The Origin of Chiropractic
An unrefined type of physical manipulation of the spine and skeleton has been practiced throughout the world for thousands of years and was utilized as a clinical procedure by early-age doctors in ancient Greece, Rome, India and the Orient. Hippocrates, often referred to as ‘the Father of Healing,’ described and outlined methods of treating bodily ills. While these were similar in approach to those used by modern chiropractic, for the most part they were concerned with osseous (bony) relationships and failed to recognize the neurological component. Hippocrates also developed theories on spinal mechanics, manipulation and general health care, as did Galen, the renowned second century physician.

Modern Chiropractic began in 1895. The developer of the modern chiropractic theory, Daniel David Palmer (1845-1913), was a self-taught ‘healer’ and scientist with a practice in Davenport, Iowa. It was his objective to find a cure for disease that did not rely upon drugs. In his research, D.D. Palmer made the profoundly significant discovery that individual vertebrae could become subluxated, producing improper nerve function, irritation and dysfunction in the body. Palmer’s development of the method for the adjustment of specific vertebrae in a systematic fashion is what distinguishes scientific chiropractic from the gross manipulations of earlier days, and chiropractic as advocated by the founder, even though narrow in focus, has broad body effects because of the relief of interference in the nervous system.

The modern and novel idea and approach to health care was systematized by D.D. Palmer and subsequently developed into a sophisticated primary health-care profession by his son, B.J. Palmer, and other pioneers. Together, they clearly established that chiropractic care directed to a specific anatomical area of the body, the spine, with the express purpose of correcting misaligned vertebrae, is a highly effective approach to many health problems. These early practitioners recognized that removing nerve interference restores ‘vital force’ and proper nerve communication, helps restore normal body functions and produces an improved sense of well-being.

Practice, Education, and Training
The chiropractic adjustment of the human spine usually is administered by hand, although several mechanical adjustment techniques have been developed. Specialized adjusting tables routinely are utilized by the doctor of chiropractic, which assists the practitioner to perform the adjustment precisely and effectively. Appropriate force is applied to the improperly aligned spinal segment through a carefully administered directional thrust, moving the segment back into its correct or improved juxtaposition with the vertebra above and/or below.

The safety of chiropractic is evident by those who are properly informed. An excellent summary statement on the safety of chiropractic appears in a special commission report published by the Government of New Zealand Report in 1979: ‘The conspicuous lack of evidence that chiropractors cause harm or allow harm to occur through neglect of medical referral can be taken to mean only one thing: that chiropractors have, on the whole, an impressive safety record.

The degree of Doctor of Chiropractic from an accredited chiropractic educational institution is required for licensure in all of the 50 states in the U.S. Chiropractic educational standards are strict and demanding, requiring a thorough background in the basic sciences roughly equivalent to medical, dental and osteopathic programs. Four or more years of full-time, in-residence instruction is then required in human anatomy, physiology, biology, biomechanics, chiropractic diagnosis, adjusting techniques, public health issues and chiropractic philosophy.

The rigorous curriculum includes more than 2,000 hours of study .  No other health-care professional devotes this level of intensive scientific study to the human spine and the process of detecting, identifying and reducing spinal misalignments. The process of adjusting the human spine to correct spinal subluxations is chiropractic’s unique contribution to health care and disease prevention.

Chiropractic students are thoroughly trained in the appropriate use of sophisticated diagnostic technology, including X-ray, thermography, magnetic resonance imaging, and other state-of-the-art investigative technologies and procedures. The capacity to fully evaluate the health-care needs of the chiropractic patient, including appropriate referrals to other health professionals when necessary, is an important objective of the chiropractic education.

Approximately 60,000 professional chiropractors are now in practice and another 10,000 attend the 14 accredited chiropractic colleges. 

By law, licensed chiropractors may legally use the title ‘doctor of chiropractic,’ or D.C., upon successfully completing the stringent educational and testing requirements. In addition to the educational requirements discussed above for graduation from an accredited chiropractic college, the candidate for licensure must also pass National Board of Chiropractic Examiners’ exams as well as meet various individual state requirements.

Research into the fundamental components of chiropractic science and the efficacy of chiropractic care is an important element in the mission of U.S. chiropractic colleges.

In conclusion, modern chiropractic is now the United States’ second largest primary health-care profession and is the fastest growing in the nation. Recognition and acceptance also are on the increase throughout the world. As consumer demands for safer, more effective and more affordable health care increase, the future of chiropractic continues to look ever brighter.

It is our hope that this overview of chiropractic will stimulate questions and a desire to review in detail our other educational documents about chiropractic.


Reader’s Digest, Sept., 1994.

Chiropractic Science and Practice in the United States, The International Chiropractors Association, 1991.

Sid E. Williams, B.S., D.C., Chiropractic in the American Health Care System, 1986.

Job Analysis of Chiropractic, “A project report, survey analysis and summary of the practice of chiropractic within the United States,” Greeley, Colo.: The National Board of Chiropractic
Examiners, 1983.

Chiropractic in New Zealand Report, Wellington: New Zealand Government Printer, 1979.






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