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May 2017
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One association of chiropractic (which derives from the Greek keir = hand and praxis = action) defines it as a scientific holistic discipline and healing art in the field of the right to health, which concerns pathogenesis, diagnosis, care, treatment and prophylaxis of functional disorders. What is more, it deals with syndromes of pain and the neurophysiological effects related to static and dynamic disorders of the neuro-musculo-skeletal system. Chiropractic was founded in Davenport, Iowa, by Daniel David Palmer and today it is one of the most common forms of treatment, and it is the third health profession in the United States of America for the number of practitioners. Palmer underlined the importance of manipulation of the spine and hypothesises that compressing a nerve or nerve root in the spine can cause symptoms both near to and far from the site of the injury. He also considered chiropractic a holistic discipline, which people study in its entirety: a person’s balance is comparable to an equilateral triangle, the three sides of which correspond to the fundamental aspects of a human being which are the biochemical, structural and psychological aspects: we are only healthy when all of these aspects are balanced; discomfort and pains occur when one of them is weakened, that is, they are not in harmony.

What it consists of
Rather than work on the symptoms, chiropractic deals with the causes that create problems, concentrating attention on the relationship between structure (mainly the spine), function (coordinated by the nervous system) and the way in which this combination affects the recovery and maintenance of our health. In fact, a biomechanical defect of the spine compromises the neuro-physiological balance of the body and it causes many problems: problems with the spine can result in a misalignment or block of the spine, called a subluxation. Subluxations can give rise to heterogeneous disorders such as back ache, neck and shoulder ache, headaches, numbness of the limbs, sciatica and even gastritis, constipation and menstrual cramps. Chiropractic works by adjusting or manipulating the spine to reset the correct vertebral functionalities and get rid of irritations on nerves. Once the state of the spine has been put back to normal, the body is able to heal and free itself of pain. This adjustment is painless and it does not involve any particular risks. There are numerous manual techniques and they range from light effleurage to applying quite moderate pressure. However, some of these are contraindicated in the case of recent fractures, serious hernias and bone tumours. The majority of people who turn to a chiropractor already suffer from discomfort, however chiropractic also has a preventative effect. Dysfunctions of the neuro-musculo-skeletal system, which is what this method works on, may already exist before symptoms appear.

The approach of a chiropractor
The approach of a chiropractor consists of three phases:
- history:
this involves collecting information about the patient’s past;
- assessment: which consists of using tools, radiography, magnetic resonance and ultrasound, on the patient’s musculo-skeletal system if necessary;
- physical evaluation: which involves an accurate check of the posture and spine, since any possible abnormalities could affect or cause the present problem.

The number of treatment sessions needed vary from case to case. Once the symptoms have been relieved, the frequency of the sessions reduces. In general, and in order to ensure better stability between the vertebral discs, at least 5 sessions are necessary for simple cases and 10 for more complicated cases (or even 15-20, but this is rare). These variations depend on the age of the patient, the seriousness of the problem or the presence of other problems, such as arthritis. Finally, maintenance therapy is prescribed involving exercises to do at home and regular check-ups in the future to prevent and correct small problems over time before they become too serious.

Chiropractic and children
Chiropractic for children is safe and effective. Problems with the spine can affect young children too and be the cause of numerous infantile disorders. Often, the origin of spinal disorders is a trauma that occurred at birth. Signs that could reveal an imbalance are protruding scapulas, asymmetric shoulders, scoliosis, kyphosis and lordosis, pronation or supination, falling over frequently, ear ache and dental problems. Chiropractic check-ups during the growth phase can help the baby to avoid problems later in life.
Adjustments to children are done by using gentle and painless techniques that aim to reset normal vertebral functioning and ensure healthy and harmonious growth.

Who to turn to
Before undergoing treatment, the patient should always make sure that the chiropractor he/she has entrusted in has a degree and is a Doctor of Chiropractic. In order to become a Doctor of Chiropractic, one currently has to study in America, Great Britain, France, Canada or New Zealand where the routes to obtaining this degree abide by the standards set out by the World Federation of Chiropractic, which is a partner of the World Health Organisation.

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