What is a chiropractor?

What is a chiropractor? The question seems straightforward enough. Yet, because the definition of the term “chiropractic” remains fluid, pinning down a definition of its practitioners is somewhat problematic. For more than a century, since chiropractic founder Daniel David Palmer first postulated that 95 percent of all diseases are caused by spinal disorders and can be treated through manual manipulation of the vertebrae, the chiropractic profession has tried to define itself. Today, most people would accept a simplified definition: a healthcare professional trained to use manual manipulation of the vertebrae to alleviate back or neck pain without medication or surgery. Yet, even more than 100 years after Palmer’s original inspiration, not all chiropractors fall under this simplified definition.

Regulation and Education

In the United States, chiropractic is regulated state by state. Practice of chiropractics requires a four-year Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree from an institution accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education. Many chiropractors serve an additional two- or three-year residency learning about orthopedics, biomechanics, rehabilitation, or other areas of study. All licensed chiropractors must complete competency examinations administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

In essence, chiropractors train under the belief that the body has a powerful self-healing ability and that proper alignment of the spine facilitates the body’s vitality, which Palmer defined as the relationship between the human nervous system and the body’s functionality. This base philosophy diverges between the two categories to which chiropractors historically have belonged:

  • “Straights” – These traditional chiropractors focus on what they perceive is an interference with the body’s “innate intelligence,” or a metaphysical relationship between the human nervous system and bodily function, as originally posited by Palmer. Scientific medical diagnosis is de-emphasized by “straight” chiropractors, who remain distanced from the mainstream medical community.
  • “Mixers” – These chiropractors typically use more modern methods of examination and diagnosis, and generally attempt to achieve acceptance from the mainstream medical community. They blend proven, modern medical techniques with the chiropractic practice of manual manipulation of the spine. These practitioners accept that disease can be caused by something other than interference with the body’s “innate intelligence,” and might employ physical therapy, chiropractic massage, lifestyle modification counseling, nutrition counseling, hot-cold packs, and other non-surgical methods of pain management.

Minimally Invasive Alternative

If chronic back or neck pain persists after weeks or months of chiropractic therapy or other conservative methods of treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using advanced techniques can you help your rediscover your life without back or neck pain.