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What is Chiropractic?

According to the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), chiropractic is "a health profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health".

Chiropractors (practitioners of chiropractic) use their hands to treat disorders of the bones, muscles and joints. Treatments that involve using the hands in this way are called "manual therapies".

Chiropractors use a range of techniques, with an emphasis on manipulation of the spine. They may also offer advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle, and rehabilitation programs that involve exercises to do in your own time. Some chiropractors may also offer other alternative treatments, such as acupuncture.

History of chiropractic

Chiropractic was founded as a health profession in the US in 1895 by a Canadian called Daniel David Palmer, who had no conventional medical training.

Palmer argued that most human disease is caused by misalignments of the spine that apply pressure on surrounding nerves. He called these misalignments "subluxations" (a term also used in conventional medicine, where it has a different meaning) and believed that they blocked the flow of a natural energy, or "life force", through the body. Correcting these subluxations, he argued, could restore the proper flow of energy, and so restore health. Thus, he saw chiropractic spinal manipulation as a treatment for 95% of all health conditions.

Since its early days, chiropractic has fought for acceptance as a legitimate health profession. In the early 20th century, Palmer came close to declaring chiropractic a religion, at least partly because of difficulties in obtaining legal rights to practice in the US.

More recently, elements within the profession have sought to place chiropractic on a more scientific footing through research to establish an evidence base for its principles and practice.

Today, Palmer's ideas do not always form the basis on which chiropractors practice, but this varies widely between individual chiropractors. The GCC says the idea that subluxations are responsible for illness "is not supported by any clinical research evidence" and that this idea should be taught as a historical concept and not a current theoretical model.

Chiropractors, says the GCC, are "concerned with the framework of the muscles and bones that support the body (the musculoskeletal system)" and with treating health conditions by helping the musculoskeletal system to work properly.

Nonetheless, some UK chiropractors continue to claim that they can improve a range of health conditions by correcting subluxations.

Chiropractic is a registered, primary healthcare profession that specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and management of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, specifically the back and spine, and the effects of these disorders on the function of related nerves and general health.

The problems usually start when factors such as accidents, physical or mental stress, lack of exercise, poor diet and faulty posture cause the bones of the body to lose their normal position or motion. This can then cause inflammation of the spinal joints between the vertebrae, leading to irritation of the nerves and the unfortunate consequence may be pain and compromised function in the muscles and surrounding structures they feed.

Chiropractic treatment aims to restore the normal alignment and motion of the vertebrae, improving mobility and helping to relieve pain. It consists of a manual hands on approach to the body, particularly to the joints, muscles and ligaments, with particular emphasis on the adjustment or use of manipulation.

The stimulation caused by manipulation also stretches the joint capsule and ligaments of the restricted joint leaving the joint more supple functioning better, thereby reducing the secondary irritation and pain. Chiropractic treatment is safe and effective and is suitable for all ages.

A Medical Research Council clinical trial and its follow-up, reported in the British Medical Journal, found the chiropractic treatment of low back pain of mechanical origin was more effective than hospital outpatient treatment.

A common misconception, however, is that chiropractors only treat backs, but in fact a wide range of other conditions besides back pain can benefit from chiropractic care. Conditions that can be treated include:

  • • Back pain
  • • Joint pain
  • • Sciatica
  • • Lumbago
  • • Migraine Prevention
  • • Generalised aches and pains
  • • Minor sports injuries
  • • Cervicogenic Headaches (arising from the neck)

McTimoney Chiropractic

McTimoney Chiropractic was developed from existing chiropractic techniques over 40 years ago by the late John McTimoney. It is a gentle, precise whole-body approach to chiropractic care suitable for all ages. McTimoney Chiropractic treats the whole person, not just the painful areas. It uses quick, accurate and gentle adjustments to correct misalignments with an absolute minimum of discomfort.

On your first appointment you will have a Consultation and treatment, when a full medical history is taken along with details of your condition. Followed by a physical examination to establish what the problem is. A modesty gown is always provided.

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