Chiropractors deal primarily with mechanical pain issues. These types of problems tend to involve the elements of structure and leveraging of the human framework, and are generally classified as “musculoskeletal” in nature. These include, but are not limited to: back and neck pain, certain types of headache pain, sciatica, disc compression syndromes, cervical-brachial entrapment syndromes, peripheral entrapment syndromes, sprain-strain issues, facet syndromes and TMJ dysfunction. Chiropractors utilize orthopedic, soft tissue and neurologic examination techniques to evaluate the level of bone, muscle and joint involvement with musculoskeletal complaints in order to make a diagnosis and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.
Chiropractors are generally considered to be spinal specialists although they are trained in the biomechanical function of every articulation of the human framework. The hallmark of chiropractic treatment is centered on the “adjustment” process, or manipulation, addressing the manual re-setting of the movement pattern and biomechanical, neurologic and vascular function of a particular joint. Most modern day chiropractors utilize a full complement of physical therapies and therapeutic modalities in the treatment of musculoskeletal complaints. Common forms of treatment may include the use of ice, heat, electronic muscle stimulation, ultrasound, cold laser treatment traction, flexion-distraction, spinal decompression, and a variety of soft tissue techniques including active release technique (ART), myofascial release, and massage. Many chiropractors incorporate rehabilitative exercise protocols as a part of their treatment for an individual patient. This can range from low tech flexibility and stabilization methods, to very advanced physical training in a complete gym setting. Often this will include an in depth physiologic assessment and nutritional consultation.
It is not unusual for chiropractors to refer out to other specialists, or to “co-treat” with other medical providers in addition to the general practitioner. Chiropractors will commonly send patients out for advanced imaging, blood work, orthopedic and/or neurosurgical consultation, pain management, acupuncture and massage therapy. As portal of entry providers, many chiropractors will additionally send out narrative reports to the primary care physician detailing their examination findings and treatment plan. In this regard, chiropractors are well positioned to assist in the complete care needs of an individual patient.