The chiropractic profession is one that has a history dating back to the late 1800s. It is a health profession the name of which is based on the words cheir and praxis, which in Greek means "hand" and "practice." As the name suggests, chiropractic care is a hands-on discipline. The primary focus of chiropractic care is on the relationship of the spine and other body structures, how they function, and how this affects a person's health. With this understanding, the chiropractor can perform manipulations to bring relief to the individual receiving treatment.
In order to practice chiropractic alignments and care, a person must obtain a state license. Since the first person received a chiropractic license in 1913, the number of chiropractors in the U.S. has grown. Currently, the United States has more than 70,000 people who hold a chiropractic license. Before getting their license, however, one must first earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, which is commonly referred to as a D.C. degree. To do this, they must earn an undergraduate degree, which is typically a bachelor's degree, before attending a Doctor of Chiropractic program for four years.
Chiropractic care is most often associated with upper and lower back pain as well as neck pain. This is, however, only a part of what this type of treatment is for. A person may receive chiropractic care for the treatment of conditions such as asthma, carpal tunnel, foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, hip and knee pain, and TMJ. Chiropractic adjustments and care can also help with fibromyalgia and headaches. Much of this care involves spinal manipulation or adjustments. Other treatments that one may receive during a chiropractic appointment include joint mobilizations, electrical stimulation, heat and ice treatments, and even lifestyle counseling. Lifestyle counseling often includes discussions about one's body weight, diet, and exercise.
Prior to receiving chiropractic care, people should consult their doctor to discuss any concerns or potential problems that may arise or interfere with current medical treatments or health issues. People should not have chiropractic adjustments if they have spinal cancer, severe osteoporosis, spinal instability, or tingling in their legs or arms. Additionally, one should not have chiropractic care if their risk of stroke is high. It is also important to consult with the chiropractor before receiving any care. This consultation is generally a part of the first appointment, during which an overall plan for treatment is made.
Some people may experience slight side effects, which may include headache, physical discomfort or tenderness in the area that was manipulated, or a general tired feeling. There have been some cases of severe reactions such as stroke after neck manipulations, but these cases are rare. Other potentially severe problems include worsening of disc problems or compressed nerves in the lower spine. In general, however, chiropractic care is considered safe.