The American Chiropractic Association website defines chiropractic as follows:
"Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts which is concerned with human health and disease processes. Doctors of Chiropractic are physicians who consider man as an integrated being and give special attention to the physiological and biochemical aspects including structural, spinal, musculoskeletal, neurological, vascular, nutritional, emotional and environmental relationships.
The practice and procedures which may be employed by Doctors of Chiropractic are based on the academic and clinical training received in and through accredited chiropractic colleges and include, but are not limited to, the use of current diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Such procedures specifically include the adjustment and manipulation of the articulations and adjacent tissues of the human body, particularly of the spinal column. Included is the treatment of intersegmental aberrations for alleviation of related functional disorders.
Chiropractic is a drug-free, non-surgical science and, as such, does not include pharmaceuticals or incisive surgery. Due regard shall be given to the fact that state laws, as well as the nation's antitrust laws, may allow Doctors of Chiropractic to utilize ancillary health care procedures commonly referred to as being in the common domain."
What Is a Doctor of Chiropractic?
The proper title for a doctor of chiropractic is "doctor" as they are considered physicians under Medicare and in the overwhelming majority of states. The professional credentials abbreviation" D.C." means doctor of chiropractic. The American Chiropractic Association also advocates in its Policies on Public Health that DCs may be referred to as (chiropractic) physicians as well.
Education of Doctors of Chiropractic
Doctors of Chiropractic must complete four to five years at an accredited chiropractic college. The complete curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. Approximately 555 hours are devoted to learning about adjustive techniques and spinal analysis in colleges of chiropractic. In medical schools, training to become proficient in manipulation is generally not required of, or offered to, students. The Council on Chiropractic Education requires that students have 90 hours of undergraduate courses with science as the focus.
Those intending to become doctors of chiropractic must also pass the national board exam and all exams required by the state in which the individual wishes to practice. The individual must also, meet all individual state licensing requirements in order to become a doctor of chiropractic.
An individual studying to become a doctor of chiropractic receives an education in both the basic and clinical sciences and in related health subjects. The intention of the basic chiropractic curriculum is to provide an in depth understanding of the structure and function of the human body in health and disease. The educational program includes training in the basic medical sciences, including anatomy with human dissection, physiology, and biochemistry.
Thorough training is also obtained in differential diagnosis, radiology and therapeutic techniques. This means, a doctor of chiropractic can both diagnose and treat patients, which separates them from non-physician status providers, like physical therapists. According to the Council on Chiropractic Education DCs are trained as Primary care Providers.
As a profession, the primary belief is in natural and conservative methods of health care.
Doctors of chiropractic have a deep respect for the human body's ability to heal itself without the use of surgery or medication. These doctors devote careful attention to the biomechanics, structure and function of the spine, its effects on the musculoskeletal and neurological systems, and the role played by the proper function of these systems in the preservation and restoration of health. A Doctor of Chiropractic is one who is involved in the treatment and prevention of disease, as well as the promotion of public health, and a wellness approach to patient healthcare.
Scope of Practice
"Doctors of Chiropractic frequently treat individuals with neuromusculoskeletal complaints, such as headaches, joint pain, neck pain, low back pain and sciatica. Chiropractors also treat patients with osteoarthritis, spinal disk conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, sprains, and strains. However, the scope of conditions that Doctors of Chiropractic manage or provide care for is not limited to neuromusculoskeletal disorders. Chiropractors have the training to treat a variety of non-neuromusculoskeletal conditions such as: allergies, asthma, digestive disorders, otitis media (non-suppurative) and other disorders as new research is developed.
A variety of techniques, treatment and procedure are used to restore healing which will be the topic of future education releases."*
*Work Cited: American Chiropractic Association website www.amerchio.org
Washington State Law Relating to Chiropractic
"Chiropractic is the practice of health care that deals with the diagnosis or analysis and care or treatment of the vertebral subluxation complex and its effects, articular dysfunction, and musculoskeletal disorders, all for the restoration and maintenance of health and recognizing the recuperative powers of the body."
Work Cited: Law Relative to Chiropractic RCW 18.25
The word "subluxation" comes from the Latin words meaning "to dislocate" (luxare) and "somewhat or slightly" (sub).
Chiropractors use the word subluxation to describe a misalignment or biomechanical malfunction of the vertebrae. The American Chiropractic Association defines subluxation as follows. "A subluxation is a complex of functional and/or structural and/or pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health".
Washington State Law defines the vertebral subluxation in RCW 18.25.006 as follows: "The vertebral subluxation complex means a functional defect or alteration of the biomechanical and physiological dynamics in a joint that may cause neuronal disturbances, with or without displacement detectable on x-ray. The effects of the vertebral subluxation complex may include, but are not limited to, any of the following: fixation, hypomobility, hypermobility, periarticular muscle spasm, edema, or inflammation".
Subluxation is also a medical term. The medical definition is an incomplete or partial dislocation- a condition, visible on x-rays in which the bony surfaces of the joint no longer face each other exactly but remain partially aligned. This medical definition/condition is not treated by chiropractors.