Last updated date: 10-Mar-2024

Originally Written in English

Read this article to find out what Chiropractic is and when to use it


    What is Chiropractic?

    Chiropractic is a healthcare profession that cares for one's bones, nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These elements form what is medically labeled as the neuromusculoskeletal system. Chiropractic primarily focuses on the human body's self-healing ability, including other alternative treatments, such as nutrition and dietary supplements, electrical stimulation, and relaxation techniques. 

    Theories validate that proper alignment of the musculoskeletal structure, especially the spine, facilitates the body to heal itself without requiring particular medication or other procedures such as surgeries. However, Chiropractic may sometimes be used simultaneously with conventional medical treatment. Besides alignment issues and self-healing, a well-known goal of Chiropractic is easing pain.

    Medical professionals believe that improving the performance of the neuromusculoskeletal system leads to better functioning of other body systems and promotes general health and wellness. Chiropractic is considered a complementary and alternative medicine (abbreviated as CAM), meaning that it is not a conventional medical treatment.


    What is a Chiropractor?

    The term chiropractor refers to a practitioner that is trained to perform this complementary and alternative medicine, or simply a chiropractic doctor or chiropractic physician. Chiropractors generally use their hands to relieve problems related to the neuromusculoskeletal system.

    Regarding their education requirements, they typically need to complete a school program consisting of four years on top of three years of undergraduate study. In the United States of America, requirements in all fifty states include:

    • Earning a Doctor of Chiropractic degree;
    • Passing the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam;
    • Acquiring a license to practice in that specific state.

    Studies provided by doctoral programs are mostly life sciences, such as anatomy and physiology. These programs also include supervised experience in assessment-making, hands-on spinal adjustment techniques, and, last but not least, business training. In addition to those, some states also require background checks and specific exams concerning the state's laws about Chiropractic.


    What does a Chiropractor do?


    The first steps a chiropractor must consider when working with a new patient are discussing the medical history and conducting a medical examination, mostly focusing on the spine's position and muscle reflexes.

    To complete this step, they perform specific tests such as computed tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. They may take x-rays to offer an accurate diagnosis. Once the patient's condition is diagnosed, chiropractors develop a treatment plan based on the results of the tests and monitor their progress to see the results.


    What is a Chiropractic adjustment?  

    The primary therapy technique used by chiropractors is represented by the chiropractic adjustment, also known as spinal manipulation or joint manipulation. It is defined as a procedure in which professionals apply controlled pressure to spinal joints using their hands or specific small tools. The primary goal of this therapeutic treatment is to improve spinal motion and the body's physical function.

    During a chiropractic adjustment, the patient usually lies face down on a chiropractic table designed specifically for somebody's parts to lift higher than the rest of the body in order for the doctor to be able to apply pressure to that certain area.

    Using their hands or small instruments, a chiropractor gently stretches one's joints beyond their normal range of motion by applying pressure. 

    Patients describe that they could hear popping or cracking sounds during their chiropractic adjustments. This phenomenon is caused by some gases (such as oxygen, nitrogen, or carbon dioxide) being released from their joints during the procedure. The same thing happens when a person cracks their knuckles because gases get trapped in the small cavities in the joints when moving or stretching.

    After the procedure, a patient may feel mild soreness in certain areas of the body the chiropractor worked on, but this effect typically fades away within the first 24 hours. Chiropractors might also recommend certain practices after a chiropractic adjustment in order to extend the therapy, including physical exercises and stretches, icing, and heat therapy, dietary and nutritional plans, relaxation methods, improving posture techniques, and electrical muscle stimulation.

    Equipment may include drop tables that are designed specifically with sections used to slightly lift the body up and down.


    How do Chiropractors relieve pain?

    Chiropractic adjustment

    As previously described, Chiropractic relies on and assists the self-healing abilities of the human body, meaning that chiropractors do not prescribe pain medicine. However, they may use other techniques designed to relieve pain. Some of these include massage therapy, ultrasound, braces, and shoe inserts.

    • Massage therapy

    It is well known that massages promote general wellness in the body, and they are typically used as a method of relaxation. Modern medicine practices include massage therapy as a method of boosting health levels.

    The main focus of chiropractic massage therapy treatments is represented by the spine and central nervous system, both playing key roles in multiple mechanisms of the human body.

    This chiropractic technique doesn't only reduce existing pain, as it helps prevent its appearance and maximizes the body's ability to remain healthy during stressful situations and to do difficult everyday tasks. Additionally, other benefits are restoring the spinal alignment and the central nervous system.

    It is important to make a difference between chiropractic massages and regular massage therapy. While normal massages are considered to imply warm towels and relaxing music after long and stressful days, chiropractic massages involve medical care for the spine and body, seeking to naturally heal the human body as a unit. Theories imply that this chiropractic treatment reminds the body of its own ability to be well.

    Massage therapies concentrate on restoring flexibility, increasing general comfort in one's body, and alleviating tension by focusing on the relationship of the spine with body nerves, muscles, and joints.

    Additionally, chiropractors consider the medical needs of their clients, attempting to prevent future pain conditions from developing. Some massage techniques that specialists consider are gliding, kneading muscles, and simple hand pressure.

    Chiropractic massages require chiropractic massage chairs or tables and spinal decompression machines as equipment. It is not uncommon for chiropractors to opt for roller tables that improve the relaxation process by rolling up and down disc spaces.

    As previously mentioned, chiropractic adjustments and chiropractic massages are strongly linked, as massage therapy helps to further promote the positive effects of the adjustment procedures.

    • Ultrasound therapy

    Also known as sonography and ultrasonography, the definition of ultrasound is a sound having a very high frequency that humans are not able to hear, yet they experience positive health results when the ultrasound therapy technique is used. Chiropractors use this method in order to observe different structures in the body; the technology also assists in healing them. These structures are usually one's tendons, muscles, and joints.

    There are two main types of ultrasound therapy named thermal ultrasound and mechanical therapy. The first one continuously delivers sound waves that are used for chronic pain, while the second one only supplies pulses of sound waves that help in cases of shorter-term conditions (for example, injuries).

    This technique functions by using an applicator that has a section resembling a microphone. This is called a transducer head. Chiropractors apply gel to either the transducer head or a certain area of the human body, as the gel helps conduct the sound waves in an even way. After applying the gel, the applicator is moved in tiny circles around the target area.

    An ultrasound therapy treatment is not a long procedure, typically lasting from 5 to 10 minutes.  

    • Spinal braces

    Spinal braces are designed to limit motion and stabilize weak spinal structures, as well as prevent spinal deformity and its progression. They are also known as back braces. This treatment is sometimes used at the same time as chiropractic spinal decompression and other treatments, such as cold laser therapy treatment.

    • Shoe inserts

    Another option that chiropractors use for pain relief is represented by custom-made flexible orthotics, known as prescription shoe inserts. They are designed to slide into one's shoes in order to improve the balance of the feet, knees, hips, and other body parts. Medically, proper balance and well-functioning feet positively affect the musculoskeletal system and overall health.

    Custom-made flexible orthotics support all three arches in one's feet and promote good posture. Patients say they are very comfortable to wear, as they are made of materials that allow the feet to function regularly.

    When one decides to opt for this technique due to its benefits, it is essential to consult a specialist, as over-the-counter orthotics may not help. In fact, they can be rigid enough to worsen one's pain, they might not be as durable, and they only support one of the three arches. They offer generic solutions for various foot conditions, meaning that they are most likely not the best option for this type of treatment. A chiropractor can help find the right treatment for each patient's particular needs. 


    Do Chiropractic adjustments hurt?

    A professional chiropractor is trained to apply a controlled amount of pressure on one's joints. Even though the procedure creates what patients call a popping sound that may seem painful, the technique only leaves the body feeling a little sore, similar to the post-effects of a physical workout. 

    It is not common for patients to feel actual pain either during the procedure or after the treatment. Chiropractic adjustments are considered to be the most common alternative treatment in the United States of America.


    Who is suitable for Chiropractic adjustments?

    Most people decide to visit chiropractors when experiencing low back pain, neck pain, and headaches. This chiropractic technique is effective and suitable for both children and adults. However, people that seek and receive chiropractic adjustments are usually between 45 and 64 years old.

    The results of the medical tests chiropractors do before developing a treatment plan indicate if Chiropractic is the right treatment option for every individual patient. In case it is not, they refer to another healthcare provider that can help.


    What conditions can a Chiropractor treat?

    As mentioned, people usually contact chiropractors for treatment in cases of pain in areas such as low back and neck, as well as when they experience frequent headaches. However, these are only the most common reasons why one may seek a chiropractor. Other than these elements, conditions that can be treated through chiropractic techniques include arthritis, healing after an accident or whiplash, muscle aches, and joint pain and dysfunction.

    While treating arthritic joint functioning, chiropractors usually provide gentle manipulation in order to increase the range of motion and also reduce muscle spasms, yet the procedure may differ depending on the type of arthritis.

    Moreover, Chiropractic may help in cases of sciatica, a condition characterized by pain originating from the lower back or buttock, traveling into the legs. The intensity and frequency of the pain may vary depending on the severity of the condition. People suffering from sciatica describe the feeling as having electric shooting leg pain (or pins and needles in the leg). Other symptoms of this medical condition are numbness, burning, and tingling sensations. Treatment plans developed in cases of sciatica may include multiple approaches, such as ice/cold therapy (used in order to reduce inflammation and control sciatic pain), ultrasound, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (abbreviated as TENS, used to reduce the intensity of muscle spasms) and last but not least, spinal adjustments.

    It is important to remember that chiropractors do not only work with the areas of the body that were previously mentioned. They can treat musculoskeletal pain nearly anywhere in the human body, including the head and jaws, the shoulders, the elbows, and wrists, as well as the hips, pelvis, knees, and ankles.

    Every chiropractic treatment technique can be used for different purposes. For example, ultrasound therapy can be used to treat back and neck issues, muscle strains, and arthritis. Additionally, ultrasound may be able to improve the following medical conditions: carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendonitis, and osteoarthritis. Another example is represented by the massage therapy previously described. Other than injuries and degenerative conditions, there is a wide variety of medical situations that this procedure may help with, including disc problems, scoliosis, migraines, arthritis, spondylosis, fibromyalgia, and many others.


    Is Chiropractic safe? What are the risks and benefits of chiropractic care?

    Risks and benefits of chiropractic

    Generally, chiropractic adjustments and other forms of chiropractic care are considered to be safe and effective, especially when used for low back pain and sudden injuries. As previously mentioned, chiropractors need to consider and be well informed about one's medical history, ongoing conditions, current medications, and other general lifestyle aspects before starting a treatment. A regular medical doctor is also capable of determining if one's condition will benefit from this type of alternative treatment.

    While most benefits and advantages of chiropractic adjustments are described above, there are a few temporary side effects that need to be acknowledged. These are mostly represented by tiredness and soreness, yet some people also experience mild headaches after an adjustment. It is very uncommon for one that received chiropractic treatments to confront more severe complications. However, some serious complications that may be caused by this procedure include herniated disks, pinched nerves in the area of the lower spine (called cauda equine syndrome), and stroke. The chances of experiencing these effects increase significantly when the chiropractor isn't trained and licensed.

    The ultrasound therapy used by chiropractors is also considered to be a low-risk treatment, although medical professionals do not recommend this option for those with blood clots due to the increased risk of clot dislodging. Additionally, ultrasound therapy is also not recommended for people having malignant tumors, acute infections, or vascular abnormalities.


    Chiropractic during pregnancy

    Chiropractic during pregnancy

    The safety of chiropractic treatments for pregnant women is only questionable when unexpected vaginal bleeding occurs and when there is a high risk of premature labor. Other than these specific medical situations, it is generally safe for women to receive chiropractic adjustments and other chiropractic treatments when pregnant. There is no evidence supporting that chiropractic adjustments cause miscarriages or any other problems regarding one's pregnancy.

    Many pregnant women decide to visit chiropractors for various reasons, as certain procedures may help reduce lower back pain, symptoms of sciatica, tension throughout the neck and shoulders, as well as headaches, all being possible effects of pregnancy. Additionally, Chiropractic may help maintain a general comfort level through pregnancy, birth, and even labor. Webster's technique is a more gentle chiropractic adjustment that focuses on aligning the pelvis in order for it to function properly during pregnancy.


    What is the recovery time?

    Even though mild soreness may be experienced within the first 24 hours, most people confirm that they felt relief from symptoms after only one chiropractic adjustment. However, chiropractic treatments don't concentrate on their short-term effects, focusing primarily on the long-term health benefits. Chiropractors usually recommend long-term life tips that help promote general wellness and prevent future health problems. They may be related to the position of one's body at the desk and incorporating certain practices in one's daily routine (for example, stretching regularly).


    When to call the doctor?

    As chiropractic treatments are designed to relieve pain, one should contact their healthcare provider in cases of worsening pain or experiencing unusual symptoms such as weakness or numbness.


    How much do chiropractic treatments cost? Are chiropractic treatments covered by insurance?

    Chiropractic treatments

    The costs of chiropractic treatments may widely vary depending on a set of factors such as the type of treatment one receives and the location of the clinic. Prices may range anywhere from $30 to $300. The average costs are about $60 to $150 for an initial visit or consultation and $40 to $80 for each adjustment or other treatment form.

    In the same manner, healthcare coverage may also vary based on one's extended healthcare and insurance plan. However, many health insurance providers cover chiropractic treatments because it is, after all, considered a medical activity.

    Kaiser Permanente (KP) is the largest nonprofit health plan in the United States of America, coordinating primary, secondary, and hospital care.

    The KP Center for Complementary Medicine allows anyone to benefit from receiving Chiropractic, acupuncture, or massage treatments.

    Acupuncture is a medical practice consisting in penetrating one's skin using thin metallic needles, a procedure designed as an activator through specific movements. The benefits of acupuncture are very similar to the ones of Chiropractic, including reduced back and joint pain, neck tension, and relief from headaches.


    Chiropractic vs. Physical therapy

    The main difference between the two medical practices implies the elements they mostly concentrate on. Chiropractors tend to focus more on the alignment of the spine and its effects on the nervous system, while physios concentrate on the muscular side, particularly using mobilizations and physical exercises.


    Chiropractic vs. Osteopathy

    Even though both Chiropractic and osteopathy are characterized by promoting the human body's ability to self-heal, the most significant difference between the two of them is represented by the degree chiropractors, and osteopaths hold. An osteopath has the right to prescribe medication, while chiropractors do not. There is also a difference between chiropractic care and osteopathy: chiropractors mostly focus on chiropractic adjustments designed to align the joints, and osteopaths tend to use manipulation of the soft tissues through stretching and massage therapy.


    Other facts about chiropractic care

    • Statistics show that 22 million people receive chiropractic treatments annually in the United States. 35% of them (7.7 million people) decide to consult chiropractors because they desire to relieve back pain caused by different causes such as accidents, sports injuries, and last but not least, muscle strains.
    • A recent study confirmed that chiropractic care used for back pain reduced hospitalization by 41% and cut costs by 28%. It also reduces the cost of X-rays, MRIs, or other medical imaging by 37%.
    • Most patients say that they are fully satisfied with the results of chiropractic treatments they have received.
    • In order to find a suitable wellness center, a simple search on the Internet such as "chiropractic near me" or "chiropractic walk in near me" may be more than enough.
    • Even though this type of medicine is not traditional, Chiropractic is not considered a pseudoscience because of the extensive studies one needs to complete in order to practice it.
    • Chiropractic is also an effective option for reducing issues related to the inner ear, such as hearing concerns and ear infections. As it is strongly connected to fluid buildup in this part of the ear, vertigo may also be reduced by receiving chiropractic treatment.
    • Chiropractic may be paired with laser therapy, resulting in effective treatment with the main goals of managing pain levels and easing inflammation.
    • Chiropractors usually recommend using a pillow that is designed specifically for maintaining proper alignment of the cervical spine.
    • Hip pain and issues regarding misaligned hips may be treated with a procedure called a chiropractic hip adjustment.
    • Established in 1995, Chiropractic Partners is considered to be the most experienced chiropractic network, offering various chiropractic services in multiple locations in the United States. 
    • Tinnitus is a condition characterized by experiencing ringing or hearing other unusual voices in one's ears. Some studies suggest that chiropractic adjustments may help reduce the intensity of the symptoms by maintaining a proper balance between one's head and neck.
    • Neurologists confirm that there is no evidence regarding chiropractic manipulations having the ability to cure any medical conditions or disorders linked to neurology.



    Chiropractic treatments focus on promoting long-term general health and wellness by improving the functions of the muscular and neuroskeletal systems. They mostly reduce symptoms of medical conditions involving one's bones, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Patients should only consult trained and licensed chiropractors in order to achieve the proper results of chiropractic procedures and techniques. Severe complications are very rare, and Chiropractic is considered generally safe for the human body and its health.