The treatment plan may involve one or more manual adjustments in which the doctor manipulates the joints, using a controlled, sudden force to improve range and quality of motion. Many chiropractors also incorporate nutritional counseling and exercise/rehabilitation into the treatment plan. The goals of chiropractic care include the restoration of function and prevention of injury in addition to back pain relief.
Requirements vary between countries. In the U.S. chiropractors obtain a first professional degree in the field of chiropractic. Chiropractic education in the U.S. have been criticized for failing to meet generally accepted standards of evidence-based medicine. The curriculum content of North American chiropractic and medical colleges with regard to basic and clinical sciences has been more similar than not, both in the kinds of subjects offered and in the time assigned to each subject. Accredited chiropractic programs in the U.S. require that applicants have 90 semester hours of undergraduate education with a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Many programs require at least three years of undergraduate education, and more are requiring a bachelor's degree. Canada requires a minimum three years of undergraduate education for applicants, and at least 4200 instructional hours (or the equivalent) of full‐time chiropractic education for matriculation through an accredited chiropractic program. Graduates of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) are formally recognized to have at least 7–8 years of university level education. The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines suggest three major full-time educational paths culminating in either a DC, DCM, BSc, or MSc degree. Besides the full-time paths, they also suggest a conversion program for people with other health care education and limited training programs for regions where no legislation governs chiropractic.
In most circumstances, a medical history and physical examination are the key parts of an evaluation required to diagnose neck pain/disorders. In some cases, individuals who do not respond to starting therapy may undergo specialized radiographic tests, such as plain X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computerized tomography to screen for additional problems of soft tissues, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, tumors, or nerve injuries.
^ Jump up to: a b Biller, J.; Sacco, R. L.; Albuquerque, F. C.; Demaerschalk, B. M.; Fayad, P.; Long, P. H.; Noorollah, L. D.; Panagos, P. D.; Schievink, W. I.; Schwartz, N. E.; Shuaib, A.; Thaler, D. E.; Tirschwell, D. L. (2014). "Cervical Arterial Dissections and Association With Cervical Manipulative Therapy: A Statement for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association". Stroke. 45 (10): 3155–74. doi:10.1161/STR.0000000000000016. ISSN 0039-2499. PMID 25104849.
Chiropractors, like other primary care providers, sometimes employ diagnostic imaging techniques such as X-rays and CT scans that rely on ionizing radiation. Although there is no clear evidence for the practice, some chiropractors may still X-ray a patient several times a year. Practice guidelines aim to reduce unnecessary radiation exposure, which increases cancer risk in proportion to the amount of radiation received. Research suggests that radiology instruction given at chiropractic schools worldwide seem to be evidence-based. Although, there seems to be a disparity between some schools and available evidence regarding the aspect of radiography for patients with acute low back pain without an indication of a serious disease, which may contribute to chiropractic overuse of radiography for low back pain.
Once your history is gathered, the chiropractor may complete a physical exam, or they may begin treatment. This may be a manual spinal manipulation, or the chiropractor may use various chiropractic instruments. After your adjustment is complete, the chiropractor will recommend a schedule of follow-up visits. The number of visits will depend on your current health condition, how much pain you’re in, and what other therapies you’re using to treat your pain. Chiropractic care is always best done in addition to other pain management treatments, such as physical therapy, medication, or pain-reducing injections.
As with so many things, when it comes to neck pain, an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure. It's true that some causes of neck pain, such as age-related wear and tear, are not under your control. On the other hand, there are many things you can do to minimize your risk. One place to start is to look at how you sleep and what effect this may have on neck pain.
Chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments, the theory being that proper alignment of the body's musculoskeletal structure, particularly the spine, will enable the body to heal itself without surgery or medication. Manipulation is used to restore mobility to joints restricted by tissue injury caused by a traumatic event, such as falling, or repetitive stress, such as sitting without proper back support.