Chiropractic - done by hand...
Chiropractic is the third biggest therapeutic science in the world after medicine and dentistry. Chiropractic is a complementary health service, which does not use medication or other therapeutic equipment. In other words, Chiropractic concentrates on musculoskeletal conditions of the spine and the peripheral joints of the body by combining tradition, art and science. This is achieved by restoring the physiological range of motion of the body by using specific manoeuvres, called "adjustments".
History of Chiropractic
The history of chiropractic starts about 2000 years ago, when the father of medicine Hippocrates was the first to use adjusting techniques to realign the bones of the human body. Additionally, chiropractic was applied by the ancient Greeks in Asklipia. In those days, Asklipios claimed that it is always important to search the route of a disease in the spinal cord and the spine. Later on, other nations such as the Chinese, the Egyptians and the French used chiropractic (those days was called bone-setting) in order to overcome musculoskeletal problems of the spine and the peripheral skeleton.
The founder and developer of the modern Chiropractic profession is the Canadian David Daniel Palmer (1845 - 1913), who lived and practiced in Iowa of the United States. In 1897, D. D. Palmer opened the first Chiropractic University in the world and since then the development of Chiropractic has been growing with universities in Canada, Australia, France, Great Britain, Norway and South Africa.
The human body is a complex auto-regulated mechanism, where the central nervous system is responsible for coordinating its functions. All the body's organs are controlled by impulses from the brain that are transmitted down the spinal column, out to the organ and back up to the brain again. A reduced or an altered nervous impulse changes the organ's function, predisposing it to disease and illness behaviour.
One of the main causes of disturbance of the nervous impulses is the "subluxation complex", which can affect all the joints of the human body. Subluxation means 'blocking' of a joint, causing reduced range of motion, pain and altered nervous system functions.
The Chiropractor, just by using his hands, delivers the specific adjustments required to each particular blocked joint. These adjustments restore the function of the nervous system and furthermore, they allow the body to reach its optimum performance.
Explaining the dysfunction
The human spine consists of vertebrae, discs, joints, spinal cord, nerves, ligaments and muscles. The harmonic coordination of all these structures is essential so that the body can function without symptoms such as pain and stiffness. Factors like minor traumas, falls; bad posture at work, during reading and driving are only a few examples of trauma to the structures of the spine. Other factors include lifting and/or carrying heavy weights, excessive athleticism or no exercise at all, stress, lack of sleep, smoking and poor diet. As a result, muscle spasm, degeneration of the vertebrae and the discs and trauma of the peripheral spinal nerves occurs, with all the attending symptoms.
When the problem is not cured properly, a vicious cycle occurs and as a result the structures of the body are further traumatised and consequently the pain worsens, the whole problem becomes chronic and patient adopts illness behavior. Some typical symptoms of this vicious cycle include local or referred pain to the limbs, numbness, headaches, vertigo, dizziness, pain-avoiding postures, burning sensation and others.
The conditions that a Chiropractor can treat include the following:
Neck: headaches, migraines, vertigo and dizziness; muscle spasm, stiffness and wry-neck; numbness, burning, pins and needles of the upper limb; herniated discs, and degeneration of the cervical vertebrae and the facet joints
Back: low back pain, herniated discs, sciatica, muscle spasm, facet and sacroiliac joint syndromes
Overuse: tendonitis, frozen shoulder, golfers tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, sprains and strains and more
Posture: short leg (anatomical/functional), spinal curvature and other postural abnormalities that affect the function of the musculoskeletal system
Who can use Chiropractic
Chiropractic can help people from all age groups and from every profession. It is safe for children and the elderly, even those who suffer from osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other similar conditions; the treatment can be applied with modified adjustments and mobilisation of the involved body parts.
Chiropractors who have completed their studies at internationally recognized institutions are fully qualified to examine the human spine and the rest of the body. This is achieved by taking a full history of the problem, complete physical, orthopaedic and neurological examinations and by studying any laboratory tests such as x-rays, MRI's, CT scans. Finally, the Chiropractor makes the diagnosis and explains if and how he can approach the problem. In cases of pathological conditions, fractures or other serious conditions, the Chiropractor refers the patient to the appropriate specialist.
Once the diagnosis is discussed and all the steps of the treatment have been explained to the patient, the Chiropractor delivers the adjustments required to the involved body part to start correcting the problem. In addition, muscle-relaxing techniques, stretching, dry needling and taping can be used to support, stabilize or relax the inflamed body area and reduce pain, tension, swelling.
A chiropractor's main aim is to restore and maintain the full range of motion of the spine and the whole body, and to achieve 100% performance without any musculoskeletal complaints.
Duration of Treatment - Results
The fact that chiropractic does not use drugs and other therapeutic equipment means that the duration of the treatment depends on the chiropractor's skills, the chronicity of the problem and the general health status of the patient before the complaint occurred. Other elements that affect the treatment duration are the age of the patient, the occupation, the mental status, the diet, and previous injuries to the body part involved.
Generally, 3 to 5 sessions in a period of 2 weeks are enough to give the first signs of improvement, but in some cases, these sessions can be enough to cure the problem completely. In other cases, such a simple muscle spasm or a strain, a couple of sessions with the chiropractor and self-treatment at home with stretching exercises can solve the problem. However, chronic degenerative cases of the spine may need more time until the body overcomes the problem. Finally, in some very advanced cases, effecting a cure is not possible; the patients are informed and regular check ups are arranged for palliative care.
Research on Chiropractic Efficacy
Papers in the United States of America and around the world have shown that patients who receive chiropractic treatment are ready to return to work in half the time, when compared to patients who use traditional treatment methods. Furthermore, as chiropractic does not require medication or hospitalisations, it is less expensive, and most importantly the patients enjoy more mobility, and some were even able to go to work.
- Low Back Pain of mechanical origin - a randomised comparison of chiropractic and hospital outpatient treatment) Medical Research Council, UK, British Medical Journal, June 2, 1990, Vol.300.
- Manga P, Angus D et al. (1993) The Effectiveness and Cost Effectiveness of Chiropractic Management of Low-Back Pain, Pran Manga and Associates , University of Ottawa, Canada.
- United Kingdom Back Pain Exercise and Manipulation (UK BEAM) Randomised Trial:Effectiveness of Physical Treatments for Back Pain in Primary Care, BMJ Online First, Nov 19, 2004:1-8.
- Meade TW , Dyer S et al. (1990) Low-Back Pain of Mechanical Origin: Randomised Comparison of Chiropractic and Hospital Outpatient Treatment, Br Med J 300:1431-37.
- Bishop P, Quon J et al. (2010) The Hospital-Based Interventions Research Outcomes (CHIRO) Study: A Randomised Controlled Trial on the Effectiveness of Clinical Practise Guidelines in the Medical and Chiropractic Management of Patients with Acute Mechanical lower Back Pain The Spine Journal, in print.
- Spitzer WO, Skovron ML et al. (1995) Scientific Monograph of the Quebec Task Force on Whiplash-Associated Disorders: Redifining Whiplash and its Management, Spine 20:8S.
- Coulter ID, Hurwitz EL et al. (1996) The Appropriateness of Manipulation and Mobilization of the Cervical Spine, RAND Santa Monica, California, Document No. MR-781-CR.
- Haldeman S, Carroll L et al. (2008) The Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and its Associated Disorders; Executive Summary, Spine 33(4S) :S5-S7.
- Haldeman, S, Carroll LJ, Cassidy JD, and the Scientific Secretariat (2008) TheBone and Joint Decade 2000-2010Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders. European Spine J 17( Supple. 1): S1-S220.
- McCrory DC, Penzien DB et al. (2001) Evidence Report: Behavioral and Physical Treatments for Tension-Type and Cervicogenic Headache, Des Moines, Iowa, Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research. Product No. 2085.
- Choudhry N, Milstein A (2009) Do Chiropractic Physician Services For Treatment of Low-Back and Neck Pain Improve the Value of Health Benefit Plans? An evidence Base Assesement of Incremental Impact of Population Health and Total Health Care Spending.
Chiropractic in Greece
Officially, the first Greek Chiropractor was Dr. K. Ligiros in 1924. Other pioneers in the Chiropractic field were Dr. Moutsios (1928), Dr. Mauroudis (1932) and Dr. Hronis (1957).
The first attempt to consolidate Chiropractic in Greece was made in 1977, when a wide society of alternative medical health care occupations was established, allowing the formation of the Greek Chiropractic Association (GCA), with Dr. Hristodoulari as the first president (1977-1990). The GCA became a member of the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) October 1988, and in December of the same year, the GCA became a member of the European Chiropractic Union (ECU).
The years 1988 and 1989 were crucial for the establishment of Chiropractic in Greece. In 1988, Dr. Hristodoularis and Dr. Skarpathaki submitted their documents to the Ministry of Health to get a license to practice Chiropractic. This license was denied and they referred their enquiry to the High Court, which decided that as Chiropractic is an alternative health care occupation, Chiropractors could practice in Greece, but with the requirement that they neither make diagnoses nor apply any treatment!
At the same time, the Greek Medical Association tried to impeach Drs. Skarpathaki, Hristodoulari and Manolidi in the crown court for counterfeiting, but they were all exculpated from any guilt. This result helped the situation and strengthened the Chiropractors' case for licensure to practice Chiropractic in Greece.
In 1994, the GCA detached from the society of the alternative health care occupations and became independent, and Dr. Giasemides (1995-1996) was appointed as the new president.
In 2000, Athens hosted for the first time the European Chiropractic Union convention. It was a very successful conference thanks to Dr. Maltezopoulos - the GCA president at the time. In 2003, under the presidency of Dr. Moustaka (2003-2004), a club of Chiropractic fans and friends was formed to support the Chiropractic profession in gaining legislation and recognition. Next, in 2006, with a new president (Dr. Golfinopoulos) the name of the Greek Chiropractic Association was changed to the 'Pan-Hellenic Society of Chiropractic'.
Finally, the society today numbers thirty members, all qualified from international academic institutions. The duration of studies for each Chiropractor varies from four to seven years depending on the university and the background each one holds. The council is still petitioning the Ministry of Health for state registration and licensure. After 30 years, we are confident that this time-consuming problem will eventually be resolved and state registration and licensure will be granted to the GCA, bringing Greece in line with the rest of Europe.