Although a wide diversity of ideas exist among chiropractors, they share the belief that the spine and health are related in a fundamental way, and that this relationship is mediated through the nervous system. Some chiropractors claim spinal manipulation can have an effect of a variety of ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome and asthma.
Although mixers are the majority group, many of them retain belief in vertebral subluxation as shown in a 2003 survey of 1100 North American chiropractors, which found that 88% wanted to retain the term "vertebral subluxation complex", and that when asked to estimate the percent of disorders of internal organs (such as the heart, the lungs, or the stomach) that subluxation significantly contributes to, the mean response was 62%. A 2008 survey of 6,000 American chiropractors demonstrated that most chiropractors seem to believe that a subluxation-based clinical approach may be of limited utility for addressing visceral disorders, and greatly favored non-subluxation-based clinical approaches for such conditions. The same survey showed that most chiropractors generally believed that the majority of their clinical approach for addressing musculoskeletal/biomechanical disorders such as back pain was based on subluxation. Chiropractors often offer conventional therapies such as physical therapy and lifestyle counseling, and it may for the lay person be difficult to distinguish the unscientific from the scientific.
Chiropractic doctors diagnose and treat patients whose health problems are associated with the body’s muscular, nervous and skeletal systems. Chiropractors believe that interference with these systems can impair normal functioning, cause pain and lower resistance to disease. They are most well known for the hands-on technique they practice to adjust imbalances in the patient’s skeletal system, particularly the spine.
Studies have not confirmed the effectiveness of prolotherapy or sclerotherapy for pain relief, used by some chiropractors, osteopaths, and medical doctors, to treat chronic back pain, the type of pain that may come on suddenly or gradually and lasts more than three months. The therapy involves injections such as sugar water or anesthetic in hopes of strengthening the ligaments in the back.