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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: CHIROPRACTIC

Chiropractic, derived from the Greek words ‘kheir’ and ‘praktikos’ , is a manipulative technique which corrects the alignment of the bones of the spine in order to treat a wide range of health problems. By adjusting the position of the spinal bones and joints, and thereby the muscles and nerves attached to them, mobility is restored and pain relieved.

The system was devised in the United States at the turn of the century by Dr David Daniel Palmer . Palmer was a gifted healer who discovered the power of spinal manipulation. By adjusting spinal vertebrae he cured one patient of deafness and treated heart disease in another. He became convinced that the displacement of vertebrae caused disease, and developed a theory that displaced or ‘subluxed’ vertebrae restricted the spinal nerves, blocking the flow of nervous energy through the body. Although some of Palmer’s ideas are no longer seen as correct today, many research studies in recent times have confirmed the therapy’s effectiveness. In particular, an eight-year clinical trial, published by the Medical Research Council in 1990, clearly established the superiority of chiropractic over hospital treatment for lower back pain.

Chiropractors generally work on musculoskeletal problems such as back and neck pain or complaints created by structural misalignment such as headaches, migraines, sciatica and sports injuries. It is not only very effective for mechanical problems causing pain in the joints, muscles, ligaments, discs and nerves in the back, but it has also been used to improve asthma and other breathing problems, to lessen allergies and alleviate digestive disorders. One chiropractor has recently published a short study of nine patients with tinnitus and claims some success. It may be that manipulation of the neck can benefit many different internal problems.

Chiropractic has much in common with osteopathy . Osteopaths use similar manipulative techniques but have a much broader training in physiology and they manipulate soft tissues as well as the skeleton. Chiropractic, in well-trained hands, is a safe and extremely effective treatment.

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