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Chiropractic Medicine

Chiropractic Medicine

Chiropractic medicine is a health philosophy and practice based on a belief that all living things are born with the vital force or innate intelligence that moves through the central nervous system and controls the vital functions. As vertebral structural derangements (subluxations) interrupt the regular flow of energy, chiropractors use various procedures and maneuvers to bring the spine back in its optimal position thus allowing the vital force to flow and maintain the overall well-being of the patient.

What are Vertebral Subluxations?

Unlike the other healing arts and techniques, chiropractic medicine mainly focuses on detecting and correcting vertebral misalignments which are also called vertebral subluxations. Many proposed definitions aim to describe what a subluxation is. According to the Association of Chiropractic College published in the Chiropractic Paradigm (1996), subluxation is defined as a complex structural, functional, and pathophysiological dysfunction that negatively impacts the functioning of the organ system and overall well-being. The Guidelines for Chiropractic Quality Assurance and Practice Parameters describe vertebral subluxation complex as an aberration of normal spinal biomechanics. These aberrations are usually caused by the loss of movement in different segments of the body or structures associated with the normal functioning of joints such as the connective, vascular or nervous tissues or muscles. The same set of guidelines define subluxation syndrome as a combination of clinical signs and symptoms and pathophysiological dysfunctions of the spinal cord that can be corrected using different manipulative procedures and techniques.   

Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractors use various manipulative techniques to help their patients restore or maintain their health and well-being. The chiropractic procedures can range from gentle, soft tissue manipulations to more aggressive manipulations of the spinal and cranial bones. Some conditions require chiropractors to expose joints to a repetitive range of motions. These movements aim to restore the uninterrupted flow of the vital force by liberating the joint structures from various restrictions. Other conditions require chiropractors to expose joints to a range of thrusting movements that can vary both in velocity and amplitude from high to low. Chiropractors can also liberate the restricted tissues by moving and stretching the affected joints or spinal and cranial bones in the direction that allows the relief of such tissues. So far, there is empirical evidence that chiropractic techniques can aid patients with different conditions, especially the ones with lower back pain, in the short-term and the long-term. Chiropractors take a considerable effort to get to know their clients very well so that they can address their individual needs through personalized treatment plans.

 Rationale for Undergoing a Chiropractic Treatment

In his scientific paper published at the beginning of the 1970s, Dr. Suh, a professor at the University of Colorado, explored the biomechanics of subluxations. Dr. Suh used computerized models to describe spinal subluxations and X-ray imaging to describe biomechanics behind subluxations. This paper suggested that there is a difference between medical and chiropractic approach to subluxations. According to Dr. Suh, conventional medicine views subluxation as an incomplete luxation where joint structures remain in contact despite evident alterations in their contact surface. Contrastingly, chiropractic medicine observes subluxations as misalignments of the bones accompanied by different neurological disturbances. Unlike in conventional medical education, correcting subluxations is a part of chiropractic curriculum. Therefore, chiropractors believe that their profession provides a good understanding of conditions and disease caused by subluxations. The art of learning how to discover and manipulate different subluxations mostly by using the sense of touch makes chiropractic medicine both a challenging and rewarding experience for all students whose goal is to become a chiropractic professional.

The History of Chiropractic Education

Chiropractic medicine was first introduced as a concept in the United States at the end of the 19th century by Daniel Palmer. Palmer began to teach the art of chiropractics in 1896 and opened chiropractic school in 1987 in Davenport, IA. At first, the chiropractic curriculum was very diverse. Individual schools offered a variety of different courses and approaches. In the 1930s, however, the professional community expressed concerns about the differences in teaching chiropractic medicine and initiated the process of standardizing chiropractic curriculum across educational institutions. As a result, in 1971 the Council of Chiropractic Education (CCE) was founded as an independent national organization. CCE was assigned with a responsibility to promote good teaching practices in chiropractic colleges. Four years later, CCE became an official accreditation body for all chiropractic professionals under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Education. Currently, chiropractic professionals need to complete full-time chiropractic schools and courses that can last as long as four to five years.


Barnett, J. E., Shale, A. J., Elkins, G., & Fisher, W. (2014). Chiropractic. Inc, Complementary and alternative medicine for psychologists: An essential resource (pp. 195-208). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/14435-014

Chiropractic Medicine and Sport. (2007). Gale.

Chiropractic Medicine. (2013). Omnigraphics, Inc.

Chiropractic Medicine. (2013). Teen Health Series: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Information for Teens

CHIROPRACTIC. (2001). Oxford Illustrated Companion to Medicine (p. 181). Oxford University Press, 2001.

Journal of chiropractic medicine. (2002). Lombard, IL: National University of Health Sciences.

l-Tubaikh, J. A. (2017). Chiropractic Medicine. Internal Medicine: An Illustrated Radiological Guide, 517. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-39747-4_13


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