Chiropractic therapy is an alternative healthcare approach that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Practitioners typically forgo medical treatment for hands-on manipulation of the problem area, most notably the spine. By mechanically adjusting the spinal column through various techniques, chiropractic therapists can effectively reduce or eliminate pain from many parts of the body, although this treatment is most effective for lower back pain.
Chiropractic therapy is generally referred to as a "holistic" approach to medicine; it will treat not only the symptoms presented but also the body as a whole. Although spinal adjustment is the most common treatment used, chiropractors may use a variety of techniques to treat the joints and muscle tissues of the body, such as:
- Electrical muscle stimulation
- Heat or ice therapy
- Ultrasound therapy
- Dietary suggestions
- Clinical kinesiology
- Rehabilitative exercise
- Manual therapy
- Massage therapy
- Active release therapy
Many patients seek chiropractic care for other reasons besides back pain. Neck pain and chronic headaches are other ailments that can often be effectively treated through chiropractic treatment. The chiropractor uses the aforementioned methods to restore the relationship between structure and function of the human body parts. These allow the patient to take advantage of the powerful self-healing ability of the body, without relying on outside substances to treat their condition.
Minor side effects such as soreness, stiffening and recurrent pains may occur depending on the technique used and severity of its application. Most of these occur approximately one hour after treatment and subside within a day or two. Overall, chiropractic treatment is a safe alternative approach when employed skillfully and properly.