What is it?

Chiropractic, which means 'done by hand', is a healing therapy developed by Daniel David Palmer at the end of the 19th Century. Focussing on the spine, chiropractors check that the complex mechanisms of the vertebrae are in good working order. The vertebrae encase the 'tail' of the brain which has an effect on many of the basic bodily functions like digestion, blood flow, heartbeat, the immune system and breathing regulation. The aim of chiropractic therefore is to correct any problems of the spine with gentle manipulation which as well as relieving pain, is believed to have a beneficial effect on the general health of the patient. A basic tenet of chiropractic is that when the body's systems are in harmony, the body has the ability to heal itself.


During a session the practitioner will observe posture and gait and may carry out diagnostic tests as well as taking a medical history and asking lifestyle questions. The patient is manoeuvred into various positions so that the spine’s function can be examined. Precise and controlled adjustments are then made or gentle touch is applied to the spine, skull and pelvis. For babies and older patients a rubber-tipped instrument may be used to deliver a very small, precise thrust, important when dealing with young or fragile bones.

Chiropractic has been successful in treating back problems, headaches, sport and other injuries and is now the most widely practised complementary therapy in Western countries. In winter 2000, the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology published a report on alternative and complementary medicine in which it acknowledged that chiropractic’s activity is well regulated and that it can benefit patients. Medical opinion is generally well disposed to chiropractic following scientific evidence of effectiveness.

Conditions that may respond to chiropractic

Gastrointestinal disorders
Joint disorders
Menstrual pain
Muscle disorders
Neck disorders
Postural problems
Spine disorders
Sports injury


British Chiropractic Association
Blagrave House
17 Blagrave Street
Berkshire RG1 1QB
Tel: 0118 950 5950
Maintains a register of practitioners who have completed a minimum of four year's full-time training and have graduated with the following qualifications: DC.B App SC (Chiro), BSc (Chiropractic).

General Chiropractic Council
44 Wicklow Street
London WC1X 9HL
Tel: 0 20 7713 5155
Fax: 0 20 7713 5844

McTimoney Chiropractic Association
21 High Street
Oxford OX49 4HE
Tel: (01865) 880974

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