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.
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
The practice of chiropractic is based upon the
principles contained in this definition. The Doctor of Chiropractic,
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
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
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
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
Approximately 60,000 professional chiropractors are now in
practice and another 10,000 attend the 14 accredited chiropractic
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
Chiropractic in New Zealand Report, Wellington: New Zealand
Government Printer, 1979.