Article: Chiropractic medicine

Chiropractic treatment uses manipulative therapy to correct subluxation, which has been shown to have some efficacy in treating back and neck pain, headache, and other symptoms of spinal-related conditions.

For its many adherents, chiropractic medicine is a form of alternative medicine which teaches that subluxations are the cause of most disease, a view not generally accepted by the medical community.

"Chiropractic, which focuses on manipulating the spine to ease back pain and improve overall health, has won wider acceptance over the years. Most health insurance plans now cover it. But in the 110 years since the profession was created, the established medical community largely has boycotted it — challenging its scientific validity in courts and legislative bodies." (Washington Times)


The use of manipulative therapy - not necessarily chiropractic - for some purposes enjoys wide acceptance by medical authorities in many nations. It is covered by many health plans such as Medicare in the United States. Although some medical doctors (MDs) and many doctors of osteopathy (DOs) do perform manipulative therapy, more than 90% of the treatment of back pain by manipulative therapy is performed by DCs (Doctors of Chiropractic). [1]

A survey released in May 2004 by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine focused on who used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), what was used, and why it was used in the United States by adults age 18 years and over during 2002. According to this survey, Chiropractic was the 4th most commonly used CAM therapy (7.5%) in the United States during 2002 ([2] table 1 on page 8) when all use of prayer was excluded. Consistent with previous studies, this study found that the majority of individuals (i.e., 54.9%) used CAM in conjunction with conventional medicine (page 6). "The fact that only 14.8% of adults sought care from a licensed or certified CAM practitioner suggests that most individuals who use CAM self-prescribe and/or self-medicate" (page 6).

Classical chiropractic theory denies otherwise accepted medical facts about the origin of diseases, and instead holds that the correction of subluxation can cure or treat most disease. Although manipulative therapy has been shown to have some efficacy in treating back pain, headache, and other symptoms of spinal-related conditions, few rigorous studies have supported the efficacy of chiropractic medicine outside of this specific area. Many people colloquially use the term chiropractic to refer to manipulative therapy of the spine, even by non-DCs.


On September 18, 1895, in Davenport, Iowa, Daniel D. Palmer, inquired about the history of a deaf janitor, named Harvey Lillard. Lillard informed Palmer that while working in a cramp area 17 years ago he felt a pop in his back and had been nearly deaf ever since. Upon examination Daniel D. Palmer found what he described as a lump that was sore to the touch. He concluded that it was possible this lump was a misalignment, that was later to be called a subluxation, was the cause of Harvey Lillards deafness. After correcting this misalignment in the janitor's spine his hearing was restored. Harvey was reported to have noted that he could now hear the wheels of the horse drawn carts in the street below. Danial D. Palmer began further investigation into the phenomena and believed to have discovered that a major source of interference to the nervous system, the vertebral subluxation, interfered with the body's regulatory mechanism, causing what he termed dis-ease or loss of ease

The term chiropractic literally means "done by hand" and originated when chiropractic's founder Daniel D. Palmer asked a patient, Reverend Samuel H. Weed, a Methodist minister and a Greek scholar, to come up with a name from the Greek language to describe his practice. Of the several names submitted to him, Daniel D. Palmer accepted one which combined the words 'chiros' and 'praktikos' (meaning 'done by hand') to describe his adjustment of a vertebra in the spinal column. Palmer had been a bee keeper, school teacher, grocery store owner, and had an interest in the metaphysical health philosophies of his day such as magnetic healing, osteopathy, and spiritualism. He imbued the term "subluxation" with a metaphysical and philosophical meaning, holding that subluxations somehow interfered with the body's "innate intelligence", or life force.

Chiropractic medicine has gained general acceptance in the last 20 years as appropriate treatment for back and neck problems. Until 1983 the American Medical Association made it unethical for M.D.'s to refer patients to chiropractors. In September of 1987, the chiropractic profession achieved a victory when Judge Susan Getzendanner found the AMA and others guilty of an illegal conspiracy against the chiropractic profession (Wilke vs AMA), ordering a permeate injunction against the AMA and forcing them to print the courts findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The decision was upheld in the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1990 and again by the U.S. Supreme Court later that same year. The current ethical rules of the American Medical Association now permit M.D.'s to refer patients to D.C.'s for such manipulative therapy if the M.D. believes it is in the best interests of the patients.

A Chiropractor's Education

The educational requirements for chiropractors are similar to that of medical doctors. The Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) has set minimum guidelines for chiropractic colleges, However additional requirements may be need for a license depending on the state or government a chiropractor chooses to practice in. Many states require a 4 year undergraduate degree, although the minimum for enrollment set forth by the CCE is 90 semester hours as a prerequisite for attending a chiropractic college.The minimum accumulative GPA for a student entering a chiropractic college is 2.50. 48 of the 90 required semester hours much be completed with the courses as follows:

  • communication and/or Language skills 6 semester hours
  • Psychology 3 semester hours
  • Social Science or Humanities 15 semester hours
  • Biology with corresponding lab 6 semester hours
  • Chemistry with corresponding lab 12 semester hours
    • (3 semester hours general/inorganic and 6 semester hours Organic and/or biochemistry)
  • Physics with corresponding Lab 6 semester hours

Curriculum for chiropractic college is very intensive and requires slightly more class time than medical school, requiring 2,419 total hours compared to 2,047 a medical student spends in class.

Minimum Required Class Room Hours Chiropractic College / Medical College

  • Anatomy/Embryology 456 / 215
  • Physiology 243 / 174
  • Microbiology 145 /145
  • Diagnosis 408 / 113
  • Neurology 149 / 171
  • X-Ray 271 / 13
  • Psychology/Psychiatry 56 / 323
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology 66 / 284
  • Orthopedics 168 / 2

Chiropractic students require less clinical experience at approximately 1405 hours where their medical counter parts require roughly 5227 hours during their residency.

Two schools of chiropractic medicine

Contemporary chiropractic is divided into two basic schools: The traditional approach is that followed by the faction of the chiropractive movement known as straight chiropractic [3]. The other school known as mixing chiropractic, combines contemporary medical techniques with spinal and other joint manipulation. Mixing chiropractic is itself divided into conservative and liberal factions. [4]

The term straight chiropractic is used to more strictly associate with adherents of Daniel D. Palmer's chiropractic theory, and of those chiropractic schools who believe that subluxations are the cause of most or all diseases. Outside of treatment (not cure) of a limited set of symptoms associated with the spine, there is no medical evidence supporting the efficacy of straight chiropractic, and some techniques in the past have not been safe.

Reformers who reject classical chiropractic theory

The vast majority of chiropractors do not hold true the beliefs professed by DD Palmer who founded chiropractic in 1895. Great advances in science have been made since the early 1900s and chiropractic schools are required to teach these subjects in school. Most chiropractic physicians know that bone do not move out of place and they do not press on a nerve. Unfortunately, we do not have proof of why chiropractic works. We have many theories many of which are explained in Dr. Robert Leach's book "The Chiropractic Theories."

Source: Wikipedia
Cache Date: March 9, 2005