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According to an article from March 22, 2011 on the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) website, chiropractic is considered to be a type of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The Greek word "cheir" means "hand". "Praxis" means "practice".
The NCCAM describes this as "hands-on therapy". That would certainly capture the essence of chiropractic, which uses spinal manipulation and adjustment as a core therapy.
In recent years an increasing number of Americans have been visiting a chiropractor for treatment of assorted musculoskeletal pain. Patients are going in for chiropractic appointments looking for relief from headaches and pain in the back, neck, shoulders, hands and feet.
Some are being treated for asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia and whiplash. Spinal manipulation may benefit those suffering from headaches, including migraines and neck-related headaches.
Data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicated that the most popular CAM therapy for back pain is chiropractic. Seventy-four percent of the 4 million Americans surveyed have had chiropractic treatment, and 66 percent of these patients reported having benefited from the experience.
Chiropractors may use a variety of therapies. Along with spinal adjustments, treatments may involve electrical stimulation, heat and ice treatment, relaxation techniques, and lifestyle counseling.
The search for pain relief may sometimes involve a brief foray into increased discomfort. After a chiropractic treatment a patient may experience a headache, fatigue or short-term soreness. This is not unusual, and is generally a very temporary situation. Pain relief is often the ultimate outcome, which makes this initial downside worth the pain.
NCCAM has supported chiropractic research, focusing on spinal manipulation. The NCCAM has supported the development of a curriculum to expand understanding of chiropractic, and has supported a developmental center at the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research.
Webmd.com, in an article from February 25, 2010 reported that 22 million Americans see a chiropractor every year.