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This is a discipline whereby techniques involving manipulation are used to keep the central nervous system and organs in good working order. It is used to diagnose and treat problems to do with the spine, joints, and muscles, as well as seemingly unrelated conditions such as asthma and digestive disorders.

This document provides general information of what to expect when you visit a therapist, and a general theory behind how the discipline works. It must be noted, however, that every therapist works in an individual way, and may subscribe to slightly different theories on how the discipline works. It is always advised that you ask to see relevant qualifications and discuss the treatment offered to you by the practitioner if you are in any doubt whatsoever.

The name derives from the word ‘kheir’ meaning hand and ‘praktikos’ meaning practical or ‘done by’. Chiropractors believe the spine – because it links the brain to the body and protects the nervous system – needs to be in good working order or it will have adverse effects on the rest of the working body. Therapists believe that the body has an ability to heal itself, but can only do so when the skeletal structure functions smoothly. Spinal disorders, it is believed, can cause not only problems in the area of the back, hips, and legs but can also cause problems like asthma, constipation, and migraine to name but a few.   

Main uses

Spine and neck disorders, menstrual pain, asthma, headaches, digestive disorders, tinnitus, vertigo, sciatica, and muscle and joint problems.

What to expect when you visit a Chiropractor

You will be asked questions relating to your medical history and perhaps that of your immediate family. Lifestyle questions, such as your stress levels, diet, exercise regimes, and sleep patterns will be asked to ensure that an holistic approach is taken.

The examination that will lead to ‘diagnosis’ will take place with you in your underwear so the practitioner can feel along the spine and examine the vertebrae. You will be asked to sit, lie, stand, march on the spot, and perhaps be asked to bend over. Other tests involve you raising your leg to determine the extent of mobility in the hip joint and tests for inflammation in the spinal joints. Your first session will usually comprise of an assessment of your condition with your second and subsequent visits being the time when the therapist gets to work on dealing with the condition using techniques called ‘adjustments’ or gently applying touch along the spine, skull, and pelvis. 

After treatment some people instantly feel better and many have relief from pain, others may feel stiff for hours and sometimes days afterwards. As to how many treatments you need, again it depends on what is wrong with you and how quickly you heal. Chronic conditions always take longer than acute ones, and some don’t feel any relief until after a few sessions. You may have to go two or three times in the first week and then weekly after that.  Many patients go for maintenance visits after the condition improves to ensure it never gets that bad again. The first session is usually 45-60 minute and is longer than subsequent visits which normally last around 15-20 minutes. 

History (In brief)

In 1895 a school was established by Daniel Palmer who treated a deaf man by manipulating his spine. The man had bent over one day, heard a click go in his back and became deaf. When Daniel Palmer treated the displacement the man was able to hear again.

In 1906, however, Daniel Palmer was jailed for practicing medicine without a licence, and the chiropractic technique was taken up by his son. The discipline travelled the world but in 1960’s it was dismissed as an “unscientific cult” by the American Medical Association, with its worth finally recognised in 1994 with The Chiropractors Act, which assigned chiropractors the status of state registered health-care workers in the UK.  

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