Chiropractic Styles and Other Techniques
When we think of chiropractors, we tend to think of the profession as a whole, without always realizing that there are some differences between styles of chiropractic treatment. While some of those differences are small, others are quite large and affect how a chiropractor applies the theory and treatment.
Straight chiropractic is the oldest form of the art, as originally developed by B.J. Palmer. Palmer believed that vertebral subluxation was the source of all illness and correcting them the key to overcome all ailments of the body. The underlying concept is that the body has a natural healing intelligence. Adjustments free affected nerves, allowing the intelligence of the body a clear pathway of communication. Given clear communication and the opportunity to do so, the body will heal itself. Straight chiropractors traditionally used only adjustments, with no added therapies and no nutritional supplements or medicinals used in treatment. These chiropractors tend to keep their practices quite apart from mainstream medical care.
Mixer chiropractors "mix" chiropractic with other health care systems, including osteopathy, naturopathy and modern medicine. Mixers tend to believe that subluxation is only one of many causes of disease, and they employ a wide range of diagnostic and treatment modalities, including x-ray, electrotherapy, and techniques from physical therapy. They may also undertake additional training to add other forms of complementary and alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, to treatments. Mixer chiropractics are the largest group of chiropractors. These chiropractors are also more likely to interact with mainstream medicine, even working in integrated medicine clinics and hospitals.
Objective Straight Chiropractic
Objective straight chiropractors, which represent a minority of practitioners, are a fairly recent offshoot of Palmer/straight chiropractic. As some straight chiropractors adopted concepts such as diagnosis, objective straight chiropractors devoted themselves to one pure objective: the location and correction of vertebral subluxation. These chiropractors limit themselves entirely to issues of the spine, and practice chiropractic more as an art, and less a form of medicine.
Reform chiropractors are, for the most part, mixers who use adjustments to treat musculoskeletal disorders alone. They do not believe that chiropractic has an affect on internal organ illness or infectious disease, do not believe that subluxation is a cause of disease, and do not accept the idea of the body's healing intelligence. These are the most biomedical of all chiropractors, adopting modern mainstream medicinal theories of function, diagnosis and treatment of the skeleton. Reform chiropractors are a small, but growing minority in the profession.
Network Spinal Analysis
Network Spinal Analysis, also called network chiropractic, is a recent style of chiropractic performed without adjustments. Holding to the theory of subluxation and traditional chiropractic concepts of health and disease, chiropractors that use network spinal analysis (NSA) employ a diagnostic process similar to those from the straight styles. In treatment, however, NSA practitioners use gentle and precise touch to the spine, creating cues, or hints, to the body's innate healing intelligence.
Created in 1964 by George Goodheart, applied kinesiology (AK) is the practice of measuring muscle strength to diagnose internal illness. Popular, but highly controversial, a practitioner of applied kinesiology relies on correspondences between individual muscles and internal organs. By testing muscle strength, primarily through resistance tests, weaknesses are found and internal diagnoses made. The most controversial aspect of AK is nutrient testing, in which a patient is asked to hold, or is otherwise put in proximity of, a nutrient or drug, and muscles are tested for change in response to the substance. AK is practiced widely by healthcare professionals of all kinds.
Other Techniques Used By Chiropractors
Chiropractors commonly employ a variety of adjunctive therapies during treatment to accelerate or enhance the effects of their therapy.
Hot and Cold Packs
Chiropractors will frequently use hot or cold packs as part of treatment, depending on the nature of an injury. Alternating heat and cold is also a popular technique.
Ultrasound Therapy employs devices that project focused waves of either high-energy sound (above normal hearing range) or very low energy sound (below normal hearing range). The sound waves penetrate deeply into the body and are used to reduce inflammation, relax muscles and relieve pain.
Infrared Therapy uses high-intensity infrared lights, and is popular with chiropractors and other complementary and alternative health practitioners. When directed at an area of pain or dysfunction, infrared light will penetrate as much as two inches below the skin, warming and relaxing muscles and organs, while relieving pain. Many patients request infrared therapy simply for the warm, relaxing affect.
TENS and Other Electrical Therapies
TENS and similar devices use electrical micro-currents to relieve pain and inflammation. Pads are attached to the skin, and a micro-current is pulsed between the pads. Patients report that TENS feels like a gentle drumming or pulsing. TENS is a highly effective therapy used by many healthcare professionals.
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger Point Therapy is based on the concept of "trigger points," which are points on the body that correspond to painful areas elsewhere in the body. These points, when pressed, will replicate or worsen the patient's pain symptoms, and when manipulated will relieve the symptom. Trigger points were first discovered as an extension of the theories of referred pain. Many chiropractors use trigger point therapy to enhance their pain-relieving treatments.
Choosing the Right Chiropractic Style for You
Chiropractic, as a profession, continues to grow in depth and breadth. Each school or style has its own adherents, history and future of development. Mixers, in particular, are constantly adopting new diagnostic and treatment concepts from other systems of healthcare. This diversity in the field of chiropractic keeps the profession growing. Moreover, each style has its strengths and weaknesses, and if one style of chiropractic doesn't work for you, consider trying another until you find a treatment approach that helps resolve your complaints.
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