Chiropractic: A system of diagnosis and treatment based on the concept that the nervous system coordinates all of the body's functions, and that disease results from a lack of normal nerve function. Chiropractic employs manipulation and adjustment of body structures, such as the spinal column, so that pressure on nerves coming from the spinal cord due to displacement (subluxation) of a vertebral body may be relieved. Practitioners believe that misalignment and nerve pressure can cause problems not only in the local area, but also at some distance from it. Chiropractic treatment appears to be effective for muscle spasms of the back and neck, tension headaches, and some sorts of leg pain. It may or may not be useful for other ailments.
Modern chiropractic was founded by Daniel David Palmer, a grocer, who performed his first chiropractic adjustment in 1895. The term "chiropractic" derived from the Greek "chir-" referring to the hand + "prassein", to do = to do with the hands (to manipulate) dates to 1898, the year Palmer founded the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.
Not all chiropractors are alike in their practice. The International Chiropractors Association believes that patients should be treated by spinal manipulation alone while the American Chiropractors Association advocate a multidisciplinary approach that combines spinal adjustment with other modalities such as physical therapy, psychological counseling, and dietary measures. For some years the American Medical Association (AMA) opposed chiropractic because of what it termed a "rigid adherence to an irrational, unscientific approach to disease." However, Congress amended the Medicare Act in 1972 to include benefits for chiropractic services and in 1978 the AMA modified its position on chiropractic. To become a doctor of chiropractic (D.C.) requires minimally 2 years of college and 4 years in a school of chiropractic.
Quick GuideAcupuncture Pictures: Acupuncture Points, What Kinds of Pain It Works for, and More
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Skin Care & Conditions Newsletter
Complementary Medicine Resources
Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016