Chiropractic Medicine
A Holistic Approach to Patient Care

Chiropractic medicine is a health care profession whose purpose is to diagnose and treat mechanical disorders of the spine and musculoskeletal system with the intention of affecting the nervous system and improving health.

It is based on the premise that a spinal joint dysfunction can interfere with the nervous system and result in many different conditions of diminished health.

Founded in 1895 by D. D. Palmer, treatments very depending on the patient's condition and the type of approach taken by the particular practitioner.

Although many other interventions may be used, spinal adjustments are the most common approach taken with most practitioners advertising themselves as primary care doctors and considering themselves as part of "alternative medicine".


Today there are four main chiropractic medicine practice styles and schools of thoughts: "traditional straights", "objective straights", "mixers", and "reform".

Differences are based on the philosophy for adjusting, claims made about the effects of those adjustments, and the various additional treatments provided along with the adjustment.

  • Tradition Straight: adhere to the philosophical principles set forth by D. D. Palmer; that vertebral subluxation (an incomplete or partial dislocation of a joint or organ) leads to the interference of the human nervous system and is a primary underlying risk factor for almost any disease.
  • Mixer: an early offshoot of the straight movement, they originated from naturopathic, osteopathic, medical, and even chiropractic doctors who reorganized the treatment system to include more diagnostic and treatment approaches.
  • Objective Straight: while traditional straights claim adjustments are a plausible treatment for a wide range of diseases, objective straights do not want to diagnose and treat diseases, even diseases of the spine and they don't want to be none as an alternative to medicine. They only focus on the correction of spinal subluxations.
  • Reform: a minority group who advocate the use of palpation and manipulation to identify and treat osteoarthritis, painful joints, and other musculoskeletal problems. They do not believe that spinal joint dysfunction causes organic or systemic disease, and tend not to use alternative medicine methods aligning themselves more with medical and osteopathic physicians.

Chiropractic philosophy involves what has been described as a "contextual, naturopathic approach" to health care.

The "traditional medical" model considers disease as generally the result of some external influence, such as a toxin, a parasite, an allergen, or an infectious agent with the solution being to counter the perceived environmental factor with drug therapy.

By contrast, the naturopathic approach considers that lowered "host resistance" is necessary for disease to occur, so the appropriate solution is to direct treatment to strengthen the host, regardless of the environment.

In contemporary chiropractic clinical practice, one can find elements of both naturopathic and conventional medicine philosophies among all types of providers.

The degree to which a practitioner emphasizes different tenets of these philosophies is one factor that determines the manner in which they practice.


A Chiropractic medicine approach to healthcare stresses the importance of prevention along with the following perspectives:

  • Noninvasive emphasizing patient's inherent recuperative abilities.
  • Recognizes dynamics between lifestyle, environment, and health.
  • Emphasizes understanding the cause of illness in an effort to eradicate, rather than palliate, associated symptoms.
  • Recognizes the centrality of the nervous system and its intimate relationship with both the structural and regulatory capacities of the body.
  • Appreciates the multifactorial nature of influences (structural, chemical, and psychological) on the nervous system.
  • Balances the benefits against the risks of clinical interventions.
  • Recognizes as imperative the need to monitor progress and effectiveness through appropriate diagnostic procedures.
  • Prevents unnecessary barriers in the doctor-patient encounter.
  • Emphasizes a patient-centered, hands-on approach intent on influencing function through structure.
  • Strives toward early intervention, emphasizing timely diagnosis and treatment of functional, reversible conditions.

Chiropractors often use other forms of complementary alternative medicines as part of a holistic treatment approach.

Examples include massage therapy, strength training, acupuncture, nutritional recommendations, and functional electrical stimulation.

The World Health Organization states that when "employed skillfully and appropriately, chiropractic medicine is safe and effective for the prevention and management of a number of health problems. And because chiropractors emphasize the importance of healthy lifestyles and do not prescribe drugs or perform surgery, chiropractic care is appealing to many health-conscious individuals.

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