A chiropractic physician is considered a primary health care provider, and as such a portal of entry to our health care delivery system. The chiropractic physician offers a natural, drugless, and non-surgical approach to health care and readily refers to the allopathic (M.D.) physician when drugs or surgery are indicated.
The most common therapeutic procedure performed by chiropractic physicians is known as "manipulation," also called a "chiropractic adjustment." An adjustment can be performed on the spine or in the extremities. The type(s) of adjustment techniques that are administered depends on individual patient needs. This is usually determined after a thorough examination and/or additional imaging such as x-ray or MRI. The purpose of adjusting is to restore joint mobility and range of motion to joint by manually applying a controlled force into a joint that has become restricted in its normal movement (hypomobile). Typically, adjusting involves applying a conservative and specific low amplitude force to the area to allow for better movement. Loss of joint motion in a joint is typically a result of a tissue injury.
Tissue injuries can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position for an extended period of time. Once the injury has occurred, the injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function. Allowing joints to remain in a restricted state will ultimately lead to degenerative changes, soft tissue imbalances, movement dysfunction, and pain.
The goal of adjusting is to restore mobility of the affected joint and tissues, thereby alleviating bio-mechanical stress and tension, allow surrounding tissues to heal. In addition, chiropractic physicians can incorporate therapeutic exercise to strengthen the surrounding musculature to prevent future injuries and promote optimal functioning.