Topics in Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic as a back pain treatment is a godsend for some, who have failed to respond to traditional western therapies and medications. Though chiropractors are most famous for fixing problems of the back, in fact they are trained in diagnosing and treating most joint pain and orthopedic conditions. Chiropractic care includes subtle adjustments of the joints to realign the body to its ideal orientation. Chiropractic care also involves the treatment of the muscles, which may have become tense as a result of damage of the nearby tissues, or because of a more direct injury to the muscle tissues.
Proponents of Chiropractic Care: This problem exists in the western profession, patients continue to remain in pain after nearly every diagnostic test has been done and nearly every treatment has been offered to make the patient feel better. Many patients have been diagnosed with idiopathic back pain, which means back pain of unknown origin. This means that doctors don't know why the patient is in pain. For these patients, medical doctors simply continue giving patients more tests, or treat patients as best they can with analgesic pain medications and physical therapy.
For the most part, this protocol of tests and treats is well advised, and many patients do get better with physical therapy. The purpose of physical therapy is to improve the strength and flexibility of the structures that support and move the back, including the back and core muscles. This type of strengthening program should help all patients with back pain, regardless of what the cause of their symptoms is. If everything goes according to doctor hopes, the patient will get better, and the patient should experience a long period of recovery.
In some cases, though, many patients do not respond to the western approach, despite the best efforts of all doctors and therapists involved. Some patients continue to feel pain months later. Some of these patients find their way into chiropractic offices one way or another, to try something else. Some of these patients do find what they are looking for in receiving chiropractic care.
Chiropractics, as opposed to doctors, use their eyes and hands to feel for more subtle problems in the back and supportive structures that may not be apparent of radiologic images such as X-Rays and MRIs. Chiropractors look, listen, and feel for misalignments in the back that may be manipulated back into place. These misalignments in the back are known as vertebral subluxations, which is a more subtle form of a dislocation. Dislocations in the knee, hip, and shoulder are obvious to the touch of a medical doctor and X-Rays. Subluxations may not show up in these types of tests, and physicians may not recognize them based on the training they received in medical school. This is what proponents of chiropractic care believe.
Chiropractic Education: Chiropractors are not medical doctors. They don't graduate medical school, and they don't have MD healthcare credentials. What they do have is Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree that involves secondary education after college. To obtain a chiropractic degree, chiropractors attend between 3-5 years of class and clinical work at an accredited chiropractic college. With this degree, chiropractors can order and read medical imaging diagnostic tests and use them to diagnose musculoskeletal disorders. Chiropractors cannot prescribe medications or western back treatments such as physical therapy, pain management injections, or back surgery. Chiropractors may perform treatments on the joints and muscles of the body, using various pieces of equipment and through spinal manipulations.
In the past, chiropractic care was considered more on the fringe of the healthcare system, along the lines of many other alternate therapy health systems. Today, chiropractic is a well respected profession, even among many medical doctors, and is reimbursed by most insurances today.