What is chiropractic health?
10/12/2023 by Benjamin Holmes, D.C., Ph.D.
Chiropractic healthcare was developed in 1895 as a method of optimizing neuromusculoskeletal health by using nonmedicinal, hands-on techniques. The word "chiropractic" combines two Greek words, χέρι and Πρακτική, and literally means "to practice by hand." Early chiropractors referred to these hands-on techniques as "adjustments."
Chiropractors today continue to utilize spinal adjustments, also referred to as "spinal manipulation," to alleviate spine-related pain and improve spinal motion.
What is a spinal adjustment?
Although the specific way chiropractors adjust the spine varies from chiropractor to chiropractor and patient to patient, adjustments generally entail applying a controlled amount of force to specific joints in the neck or back and then either applying a quick, shallow thrust or oscillating the pressure until joint motion is restored and pain is relieved.
Spinal adjustments are generally safe, although patients with certain conditions such as severe osteoporosis, spinal cancer, inflammatory arthritis and previous spinal fusion surgery should consider a different approach.
What else do chiropractors do today?
Chiropractors today are also trained to massage and stretch muscles and recommend exercise and nutritional approaches to managing spine pain.
Should I see a chiropractor?
Although early medical doctors were skeptical of the sweeping claims early chiropractors made regarding the holistic effects of spinal adjustments, research today supports the use of chiropractic adjustments for specific conditions. Chiropractic care is recommended by many medical doctors to treat back pain, neck pain and muscle tension-related problems.
If you are considering chiropractic care, ask your doctor for a referral.
Benjamin Holmes, D.C., Ph.D., is a chiropractor in Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson's Integrated Community Specialties and the Mayo Clinic Spine Center. He has extensive training in outpatient spinal therapeutics and specializes in care for mechanical back and neck pain as well as posture- and sport-related myofascial pain, synthesizing passive and active care techniques. As the first chiropractor at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Holmes has pioneered the integration of chiropractic care into the clinic's multispecialty spine program.