What is Chiropractic Therapy ? Types,Treatment, Benefits, Risks and Cost

Chiropractic therapy deals with treating mechanical musculoskeletal system disorders using unconventional methods. 

The chiropractic practitioners believe that people’s health can be negatively affected by musculoskeletal disorders through the person’s nervous system and the vertebral subluxation (a minor misalignment or a partial dislocation of the vertebrae usually caused by fracture).

However, all these claims are not evidence-based, and there is no literature supporting this belief. 

Different types of chiropractor, treatments, benefits, risks, cost. Here you will find everything you need to know before consulting a Chiropractor :

What is Chiropractic Therapy ?

Patients are treated manually, using special techniques like the spinal manipulation therapy (SMT). Other joins and soft tissues are also manipulated in this therapy treatment. 

The chiropractors are generally self-made scientists without any formal education as a medical doctor or medical practitioner and as such they do not believe in scientific methods for therapy. 

What studies says about chiropractic ?

Despite several clinical studies on chiropractic treatments, there is still no evidence on the efficiency of chiropractic manipulation treatment except for back pain treatment which has proved effective in several reviews.

What this means is that manipulating the spinal cord ONLY treat back pain contrary to the chiropractic practitioner’s belief who claim that in order to treat any bodily sickness, disorder and conditions you do the spinal manipulation therapy (SMT). 

Using the spinal cord manipulation technique proved to be cost-effective compared to the conventional methods, especially if the patient has sub-acute or chronic low back pain.

The conspiracy around chiropractor

In contrast, some studies reported that the results for the chiropractic treatment for acute low back pain were insufficient to conclude it is effective. 

For a therapy that has been in existence for centuries, it is alarming that there is insufficient data ascertaining the safety of the chiropractic therapy.

This could mean that since the chiropractors are pseudoscientist, the whole system is prone to falsified research findings because the fewer people conducting scientific studies on the chiropractic therapy do it with the hypothesis that is does not work, such a bias make one question the negative findings.

Regardless, this therapy will win more patients if they invest in research that prove its safety and efficiency. 

Chiropractic and Stroke cases

Even more, it is suggested that using the chiropractic therapy is one of the most leading cause of deaths mostly through stroke. And of course, several chiropractors dispute the allegations without backing their dispute with evidence from their own reliable research. 

The truth is, even the conventional and mainstream medicines have had too many fatalities as well, with treatment that work for certain people and not work for others, e.g. cancers treatment has many survivors as well as many fatalities and the list goes on and on.

This is to say any treatment have the ability to fail or save lives. But, it becomes a concern when one treatment continues to lead to one fatality, like stoke and neck manipulation treatment claims. 

Which countries use chiropractic the most ?

Chiropractic therapy has deeper roots in Australia, Canada and the United States respectively. The therapy intersect with osteopathy and physical therapy as these are also manual-therapy practices. 

Most reviews reported that low back pain, neck and other back pain are the most common condition that people consult chiropractors for. However, people do consult with Chiropractors for other ailments as the therapy is believed to be for primary care purpose.

There is some form of chiropractic education and training given to individuals who aspire to be chiropractors. Also, there are two types of chiropractors i.e. straight and mixers chiropractor practitioners. 

The History of Chiropractic therapy

The practice of chiropractic therapy goes way back in the 18900s where DD Palmer claimed that he received a revelation to use the therapy or treatment from the other world.

The history of chiropractic

The therapy continued to expand to date with so many controversies that conflict with the conventional medicine. Among the many names that this therapy has been called is “unscientific cult” by The American Medical Association in 1966 when they issued a boycott against those practicing the therapy.

However, the battle went on for over 21 years but in the end chiropractic therapy won the battle and the practice is still talked about and practiced worldwide. 

One of the main controversies that continues to bring the wedge between the conventional medicine and chiropractic therapy is the differing belief on children vaccinations or immunization where chiropractic therapy believers disagree with the popular immunization practice. 

The chiropractors refuse to believe in vaccination despite the undeniable, tangible evidence-based impact of vaccination.

It’s a fact that immunization is one of the best public health intervention that has significantly reduced mortality worldwide for decades.

This controversial issue has continued to put a dent on the public vaccination practice where some people despise the good public health intervention of vaccinating, especially children thereby exposing children and loved one to adverse health conditions. 

However, most mainstream physicians are warming up to chiropractic therapy in recent eras such that its demand for service is increasing steadily in the United States of America.

This is because the chiropractic therapy has maintained a sincere, genuine and strong political base with all transparency in their dealings that more people are becoming more accepting of the practice. 

Types of chiropractor therapist

Straight Chiropractors

Straight chiropractor

The D.D. and B.J. Palmer philosophical principles are adhered to by this group of therapists as they believe in retaining the philosophical and vitalistic qualities Straight chiropractors believe that all diseases are caused by a slight misalignment of the vertebrae (vertebral subluxations).

They also believe that every individual has intelligence wired into them to govern every single act in their bodies and this they refer to as innate intelligence.

Moreover, the same innate intelligence is believed to be the one that fight off bacterial invasion by controlling and coordinating the body’s   chemical reaction as well as tissue formation. This type of chiropractic therapy is practiced by the minority. 

Straights chiropractor therapists consider patient’s complaints or symptoms as secondary effects to the primary problem i.e. vertebral subluxation and as such they focus on treating the primary as they believe treating vertebral subluxation will miraculously treat other symptoms.

Their ONLY way to treat is by vertebral alignment and they do not mix this therapy with others. There is still a distinct indifference and enmity between straight chiropractors and the mainstream health care as they prefer. 

Mixer Chiropractors

On the other hand, the mixers chiropractors use exercises, massages, and ice therapy to treat their patients. They are NOT against the conventional medical techniques either as they believe the mixture of chiropractic, medical and/or osteopathic is definitely beneficial to the patients. 

Chiropractor stretching

Patients who prefer this form of therapy get to be exposed to various form of treatment like :

  • exercise
  • stretching
  • massage
  • ice packs
  • electrical muscle stimulation
  • therapeutic ultrasound
  • moist heat

Other varying treatments include : 

Although there are many mixers chiropractors’ therapists, a study conducted in north America in 2003 reported that 88% of these mixers chiropractors still wanted to retain the term “vertebral subluxation complex. (source)

Despite this, a subluxation-based clinical approach has been found inefficient for treating visceral disorders by most chiropractors in America on a study conducted in 2008. 

Chiropractic Treatments 

The most common treatment used in chiropractic care is referred to as spinal adjustment or spinal manipulation where three-joint complex is taken past the normal range of movement passively.

Then, the three-joint adjustment ensures that the joints are neither dislocated or damaged. During the procedure, an audible release can be heard and is believed to be the dynamic thrust that is said to increase a joint’s range of motion. 

The neural discharge is signaled by the physiological effects from Para spinal muscle tissues when it is pushed by the High-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulation (HVLA-SM).

Moreover, the chiropractors’ ability to handle the duration and magnitude of the load determines the clinical skills in employing HVLA-SM thrusts respectively.

In essence the spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is done by using the practitioner’s hands to influence the patient’s spine and related tissues by massaging, adjusting, stimulating of applying traction. 

In recent years more distinguished techniques were employed to adjust spine depending where the practitioner attended school. There are many techniques used by chiropractic practitioners for various functions. And only few of those are shown below;  

The Trigger Points of chiropractic therapy

  • full spine manipulation that include various technique in one treatment, (Diversified technique)
  • the spring loaded tool which is an activator technique which is believed to be more precise. 
  • A detailed procedural protocols done on a drop table called the Thompson Technique
  • The Gonstead that adjust the spine using instruments which avoid rotational vectors 
  • Cox/flexion-distraction, mixture of osteopathic principles and chiropractic techniques making use of movable adjusting tables.

Also, there are practice guidelines to regulate and ensure standards are adhered to for the protection of patients.

Some reviews highlighted that Chiropractors need to admit that there is certain disease, disorders and ailments that can ONLY be treated by conventional medical science. Therefore, a collaborative approach will be beneficial and help save lives. 

Low back pain

Lower back pain illustration

Taking into consideration the patient’s medical history, sometimes lab tests, diagnostic radiographs and the physical examination, the chiropractor will decide which treatment technique is appropriate.

By means of manual adjustment the chiropractor practitioner will apply a sudden thrust on the joint to manipulate the spinal cord. this method can improve the movement of the patient and thus give patients better lives. 

Moreover, the chiropractors prefer to use integrated approach where nutritional counseling and exercise, and other essential rehabilitation are used concurrently.

Here are the most effective exercises for lower back pain.

The treatment ensures that at the end of the day the patient’s functionality is restored without adding more injuries to patients because the process of spine manipulation can lead to injuries if it is not properly and cautiously done. 

Health benefits in using Chiropractic Therapy

  1. Flexible joint, leading to better mobility.
  2. Loosen tight muscle and tighten muscle and thus strengthen overall muscle to perform better.
  3. Effective in treating arthritis, by slowing down joint degeneration and connective tissues.  
  4. Inflammation due to subluxation is minimized.
  5. Blood circulation is improved. 
  6. Patients recover speedily.
  7. Better functioning of the nervous system with improved nerve impulse. 
  8. Improves nerve system function and the individual nerve’s ability to carry nerve impulses more efficiently.
  9. Stronger immune system.
  10. Body organs function better. (heart, lung, sinuses, digestive, etc).
  11. Patients become happier and even tempered
  12. Bring the normal balance to hyperactive patients as well as hypoactive patient to ensure they are at their normal range emotionally.
  13. Energy booster, vigor and curbs sleeplessness.
  14. Treating prenatal discomfort
  15. Decreases length of labor and associated back pain.
  16. Decreases the adverse effects of stress.
  17. Improves athletic performance (for ANY sport).
  18. Improve one‘s ability to think

Risks associated with Chiropractic treatment

A scientific statement was released by the American Heart Association in 2014 showing the association between chiropractic therapy, especially for the neck adjustment with stroke. (source)

This could be caused by the high velocity neck manipulation applied by chiropractors when they treat their patients. As such most conventional medical practitioners forbid their patients from taking such treatment to protect them from stroke and other adverse health effect that could be caused by this treatment therapy. 

The thoracic and lumbar spine chiropractic manipulations were found to be totally safe those regions cannot be easily damaged as it is somewhat difficult for chiropractors to put too much pressure there.

Moreover, there are reports from conventional practitioners or doctors who treated most patients suffering minor strokes due to ruptured arteries during chiropractic treatments. Thus, patients need to be aware so they can make the right decision on who to consult with on various disorders for their safety. 

Does this therapy really work?

Inasmuch as conventional medicine does not work for all people, chiropractic therapy will always have people that will claim the treatment is ineffective.

The truth is people die whether using mainstream treatments or chiropractic treatments. There could be underlying causes leading to death in both treatments which could be investigated through scientific studies.

However, the lack of evidence-based data confirming the safety of chiropractic treatment makes one cautious when trying to decide on using it. 

Until there is a conclusive evidence that chiropractic neck manipulation treatment does not predispose patients to arteries rupture and stroke, patients are better off using the mixers chiropractic treatment on other health issues other than neck problems because prevention is better than cure! 

Chiropractic treatments need to be integrated to other known effective treatment and doing that can improve our way of living lives. The treatment is effective on ensuring humans vitality are improved, immune systems are boosted, etc. and these are but treatment for acute problems. 

How much should I pay when I consult chiropractors?

Between $30 and $200 depending which treatment a patient is seeking and where a patient need more follow-up sessions, each visit might have a certain amount paid which is usually lower than the first payment. 

Chiropractic therapy Patients

Literatures shows that the majority of patients using the therapy are not referrals from any health institution. The majority of consultant are said to lack medical insurance and are mostly dissatisfied with the conventional health care. In the U.S. about 30% of chiropractic patients receive over 11 treatment sessions.

However, some people fear to consult with the chiropractors in fear of possible adverse effects and the inconclusive scientific evidence-based proof of efficacy.

Moreover, conventional medicines are STILL the most preferred way to access primary health care service. The British Columbia and Ontario in Canada has delisted chiropractic services altogether. 

Nevertheless, over 35 million adults see chiropractors for the headaches; back, shoulder, foot and neck pain relief among other treatments in the U.S. alone. 

Medical Insurance and Chiropractic therapy

Chiropractic insurance claim form

This varies country to country. Generally, there are some treatments covered by the medical insurance and the most common covered treatment is spine manipulation treatment. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a chiropractor damage your back?

There are always people who graduate bottom of their class. So, although rare, it’s possible that a chiropractor may interfere with your back. This may lead to a manipulated neck, slipped disc or injured spinal cord among other problems.

How often should you get a chiropractic adjustment?

When starting out on a new treatment plan, professionals recommend having chiropractic adjustments several times a week. But with time, as your body begins to heal, this number could drop to once a week.

Finally, when you are pain-free but still want to maintain your lifestyle, you can see a chiropractor once or twice a month.

When should you stop chiropractic treatment?

Discontinue your chiropractic treatment if:

1) You don’t notice any visible changes with the symptoms persisting.
2) You incur increased pain.
3) There are no improvements after 2 to 4 weeks of treatment.


The fact that chiropractic therapy has many benefits cannot be ignored. However, the public must know when to use this kind of therapy.

It is undeniably correct to acknowledge that chiropractic therapy DOES NOT treat all diseases and disorders and as such those with little children need to take their children for public immunization as responsible guardians. 

Moreover, the mixers chiropractic therapy must be the preferred option as it integrates various treatments in one, exposing patients to the best of each treatment therapy.

As such the integrated treatment must be structured such that the various practitioners collaborate in treating their patients to avoid misleading and conflicting advises that could confuse patients. 

The chiropractic therapy has gained the momentum since they embraced other treatment as options that could treat patients.

Therefore, more scientific evidence must be done collaboratively to expose the good, better and the best as well as the bad, worse and worst practices. This they do because all therapies must be patient-based instead of belief-driven. 

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