Chiropractors regard the body's nervous system as fundamental to health. Pain and disease are the result of undue pressure on the nervous system by mechanical, chemical, or psychological factors.
Restoration to health and maintenance of health there- after depend on the normal functioning of the nervous system. Because the nervous system is so well integrated with muscles and bones in the body, diagnosis and assessment of a patient's neuro-musculoskeletal condition is undertaken from the biomechanical standpoint: the mobility of each of the patient's joints is monitored to establish the range of movement in each vertebral or joint segment. It is the joints, after all - especially those of the spine - that are subject to the most stress and strain in everyday life.Injured joints lose some of their inherent flexibility when they repair, placing more stress on adjacent structures (such as the soft inter vertebral disks, ligaments, and nerves). Initially, the body is able to compensate for these regions of stiffness, but as further stress occurs, this ability to compensate decreases to such an extent that an even worse injury may result.Treatment accordingly comprises very precise adjustments to the spinal segments or to individual vertebrae to restore flexibility to stiff and painful joints" to lessen stress on neighboring joints and any other structures that have become swollen and inflamed, and: to reduce the reactive muscle spasm (tension) and pain.Trauma elsewhere in the body may require further, different forms of adjustment but with exactly the same' goals. In such a case, the chiropractor again locates the area of diminished flexibility and assesses the effects on the surrounding musculoskeletal structures. Because chiropractic focuses on improving the movement at individual body joints that often have been stiff and inflexible for some time, a few sessions of therapy and associated exercises may be required before a patient is able to move with genuine flexibility, and for the muscles to regain a measure of healthy support.Elements of TherapyDiagnosis Where it is necessary, considerable use of X-rays is made in order to gain information about the client's underlying bone structure, and to rule out non-mechanical problems (such as organic disease or deformity). Chiropractors also diagnose problems through observation and palpation (hands-on examination). X-rays are used to pinpoint the area of damage, assess its extent, and decide if chiropractic treatment is suitable. X-rays are taken in a weight-bearing position, so that the practitioner can see what the spine looks like under normal conditions. If the examination reveals a "subluxation," then the chiropractor will undertake treatment. "Subluxation" is the term used for defective joint movement and its effect on the nervous system and surrounding structures.Treatment Chiropractors tend to concentrate on localized problem areas, if possible, rather than undertaking generalized stretching, loosening, and massage procedures. They aim to restore the spine and musculoskeletal system to normal function by using a variety of special chiropractic manipulative techniques. Mobilization involves moving a joint as far as it will comfortably go within its normal range of movement, and manipulation shifts it further with anyone of a number of different techniques. Where manipulation is involved, the chiropractor will use the correct amount of force at the correct speed to thrust into the spinal joint to the correct depth. There are around 150 different chiropractic techniques.Method Adjustments involve direct manual contact, predominantly in movements described as "high velocity low amplitude" - that is, rapid but short. (Outside the United States, such quick, brief movements are alternatively described as "short lever" actions.) Patients are treated according to their specific problem, age, build, general health, and pain levels. Ice treatments may also be used to reduce pain and swelling. Applied kinesiology, which was originated by American chiropractor Dr. George Goodheart, is also part of some chiropractors' treatment.