New York resident Erin Mitchell has always considered herself a fan on alternative medicine treatments from aromatherapy to holistic medicines to acupressure and acupuncture treatments. However, she’s always been reluctant to visit her local chiropractor.
“I’ve run into chiropractors over the years and taken the opportunity to ask them exactly what they do,” Mitchell explains. “Not a single one has ever been able to give me a clear and concise answer.”
This ambiguity leads many Americans to question the profession’s legitimacy, despite the fact that chiropractic care is the treatment of choice for many people seeking alternative treatments. Just in June, a study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine indicated that chiropractic care was the favored approach of alternative care, with 60% of all of the survey’s participants indicating that these treatments improved their chronic back pain.
Additionally, another 2010 study published in the medical journal Clinical Rehabilitation found that spinal manipulation provided better short and long-term functional improvement and more pain relief in follow-up assessments than other physiotherapy interventions.
However, glowing testimonies do little to explain what chiropractors actually treat.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), chiropractic is a health care approach that focuses on the relationship between the body's structure, mainly the spine, and its functioning. Practitioners use a variety of treatment approaches that primarily include physical adjustments to the spine or other parts of the body with the goal of correcting alignment problems.
“The idea is that the body has an innate ability to heal itself,” Karen Erickson, a New York chiropractor and spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), explains.