The origin of chiropractic medicine comes from the belief that all diseases are caused by spinal mis-alignments. Yes, it it hokey. Heck, they call the whole thing 'chiropractic', when the word is obviously an adjective. It's because chiropractors can't say chiropraccy. Invented by Daniel David (D. D.) Palmer in 1895 when he cured someone's deafness by realigning a vertebra. He also believed in magnetic healing, phrenology, vitalism, Mesmerism, and spiritualism.

I have the sinking feeling that most chiropractic doctors are those that couldn't get into standard medical schools, but didn't let that stop them from trying to help people.

On the other hand, the quack practice of chiropractic has been around for so long, I'm sure they've actually have gotten pretty good at reducing back pain through trial and error.

It's interesting to note that the only reason normal doctors aren't up in arms against this pseudoscience-based health care practice is because of legal action against the American Medical Association for unreasonable restraint of trade.

Don't assail me with anecdotes about how chiropractic cured your back pain. I'm just pointing out that it has no rational, scientific basis. I think if enough people moved enough spines around randomly, while still undergoing conventional therapies, at least some of their back pain will stop.

Remember, if alternative medicine actually worked, it would be called conventional medicine.

The word chiropractic is an amalgamation of the Greek words "cheir" and "praktkos", meaning "done by hand". Chiropractic does not involve the use of drugs or surgery and is a holistic style of health care that focuses on the spine and its relation to the entire body. Doctors of Chiropractic perform manipulations and adjustments on the tissues of the human body, particularly of the spinal column. The aim or chiropractic is to treat areas of decreased movement in the joints of the spine which cause a variety of symptoms like back pain, muscle spasms, and headaches.

A legitimate chiropractor does not advocate chiropractic as a panacea, but instead uses it a part of the process of improving overall spinal health. Many modern chiropractors have a medical doctor on staff to work with the chiropractor and patient to figure out the best course of treatment for the patient. With proper exercise and diet, a spine can stay healthy for years and deteriorate at the normal rate expected with the aging process.

References:
American Chiropractic Association: http://www.amerchiro.org
Canadian Chiropractic Association: HTTP://WWW.CCACHIRO.ORG
Chirobase: http://www.chirobase.org/13RD/chiroguidelines.html.

In response to fhayashi and to anyone else out there who has similarly misguided ideas about chiropractic:

As a student at Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, I should start by saying that I never considered becoming a medical doctor - for myself and many of my classmates, chiropractic was my first and only choice for a career in health care. It isn't a question of our ability (or lack thereof) to compete in traditional medical schools. The numbers alone make the point: compare one chiropractic college in all of Canada, which accepts only the top 160 applicants every year, with the dozens of medical schools across the country which each take up to 160 students, and decide for yourself which would have the most fierce competition for admission. The comparison is the same, or more dramatic, in the States. There is no question that any of my classmates could have attended their choice of medical school, had they so desired.

The fact of the matter is, the chiropractic curriculum parallels the traditional medical education, and then goes beyond, adding material specific to the art and science (yes, science, see below) of chiropractic. We are required to attend more class hours in subjects that would be considered more traditionally 'medical' (for example, anatomy, pathology, radiology, microbiology, and clinical diagnosis, to name a few) than do actual medical students. Even though our practice does not involve prescription medicines, we are required to learn and understand relevant pharmacology, whereas MDs are not required to learn any of the techniques we use. Who, then, has the more complete clinical understanding of the patient, the issues they face, and the best treatment options for their circumstances? Simply put: we take every course 'they' take, and more.

To address the criticism of chiropractic as unscientific: science always begins with questions. Our question is, "We see that these techniques are helping people... but how?" I can only begin to list all the ongoing studies that are seeking out the answers. For example, at the University of Waterloo, researchers are investigating the biomechanical responses to chiropractic adjustment. At my school, PhDs, MDs, and DCs are colloborating to study the effects of spinal manipulation on the immune response. There are dozens of other examples. These studies would be progressing at a faster rate, and maybe we would know some of the answers by now, if chiropractic had some commercially successful equivalent to the toothpaste and pharmaceuticals that fuel dental and medical research. This isn't an excuse; it is simply the reality of research economics. So instead, we learn what we can, slowly, surely, and eagerly.

The key fact driving all of these efforts (proven through many RCTs) is that chiropractic is beneficial in treating mechanical low-back pain and headaches. Although we do experience positive outcomes for a wide variety of ailments, we recognize that it is only the aforementioned two conditions for which there are published scientific results. No true practitioner of the science of chiropractic would make any claim otherwise.

This brings me to a final point, on the topic of 'pseudoscience-based healthcare'. Many of the people fhayashi refers to who currently use the term 'chiropractic' to describe their services recognize that they are not practicing evidence-based medicine, and are making efforts to disassociate from chiropractic and form their own distinct group(s). They recognize that science is what separates their spiritually driven practice from ours.

It's always better to learn the truth about something before criticizing it. I hope I've provided a little more information for people to better understand the truth about chiropractic.

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