Doctors of Chiropractic are trained to diagnose and treat any disorder of the neuromusculoskeletal system and analyze the effects of these disorders on general health and well-being. Chiropractic care is most often used to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints, arms or legs, and headaches. Chiropractors also employ a variety of techniques to treat associated soft tissue ailments, such as muscle soreness, tightness or spasm, repetitive use injuries (tendonitis), sprains/strains and sports injuries.
Chiropractors practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to healthcare that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic stretches and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.
A common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as spinal manipulation, also called a chiropractic adjustment. The purpose of spinal manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force to joints that have become restricted in their movement, usually as a result of an acute injury or a chronic/postural issue. Manipulation of the affected joint and tissues restores mobility and increases circulation to the joint and surrounding tissues, thereby alleviating pain and stiffness and allowing the tissues to heal.
In many cases, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care may be the primary method of treatment. When other medical conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition.
Doctors of chiropractic may assess patients through clinical examination, laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging and other diagnostic interventions to determine when chiropractic treatment is appropriate. Chiropractors will frequently refer patients to the appropriate health care provider when chiropractic care is not suitable for the patient’s condition, or the condition warrants co-management in conjunction with other members of a healthcare team.