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  • Writer's pictureDr. Luis Rivera Allende

Chiropractic: Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Chiropractic is the branch of health that diagnoses and treats disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Chiropractic is a young discipline with little more than a century of existence, created by Dr. David D. Palmer in 1895. It’s based on manipulations where the focus is the alignment of the spine, as well as the adjustment of the joints to correct subluxations. Subluxations are interferences between the communication of the spine and the nervous system. It is considered a branch within the complementary and alternative medicine, because it’s a type of natural discipline where manual and non-invasive therapies are used without the need for drugs or surgeries.

Complementary, alternative and conventional medicine

According to the NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) we can define complementary and alternative medicine as "a set of systems, practices and products that are generally not considered part of conventional medicine." In order to better understand what this type of medicine consists of, we must define the term of conventional medicine as well, which is "medicine according to those who hold M.D. (doctor of medicine) or D.O. (doctor in osteopathy) and healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, psychologists and qualified nurses." It should be noted that there is a difference between complementary and alternative medicine, as it is often thought to be the same, which is not correct.

Complementary medicine is recognized and approved by medical professionals while alternative medicine is not. Complementary medicine is used or administered in combination with conventional medicine. While alternative medicine is used in replacement or instead of conventional medicine. Chiropractic can fall into both categories, as it can be used in place of conventional medicine to treat certain ailments. Just as it can work in combination with conventional medicine for a patient's early recovery.

Article of chiropractic as complementary and alternative medicine

An article from the Puerto Rican newspaper El Metro published on April 30th, 2019, titled Chiropractic appears as an alternative to fibromyalgia talks about how Chiropractic is "a non-pharmacological measure that can help patients with fibromyalgia". Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by severe musculoskeletal pain and constant tiredness. There are no specific causes of how or why this disease appears. Physicians that practice conventional medicine commonly treat this condition with medication and pain management care.

This is where chiropractic comes in as complementary and alternative medicine, so that when a patient suffering from fibromyalgia visits a chiropractor, they can help with a plan of manipulations and chiropractic adjustments. In addition to manipulations and physical therapies, the chiropractor can give advice on improvements of the patient's lifestyle. In the article, the director of the School of Chiropractic of the Central Caribbean University (UCC), Alex Adorno, talks about how the combination of different types of medicines is of great benefit to patients with fibromyalgia, he says "that the disease should be dealt with from a integrative point of view; that is, to incorporate several types of doctors as rheumatologist, internist, physiotherapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, nutritionist, among others."

Chiropractic in combination with conventional medicine

By considering chiropractic as a type of complementary medicine, we can see that it can work together with conventional medicine to treat some conditions. Conventional physicians tend to focus more on diagnosing and seeing what is physically happening to the patient, with the goal of finding the correct medications needed to treat the patient's symptoms and the condition to improve. Sometimes, that alone is not enough, you must also manage what is the well-being of the patient in other aspects of their life.

This is where the Chiropractor can supplement the conventional doctor. Since chiropractors in addition to offering physical adjustments and manipulations can also be trained for other types of interventions, such as acupuncture, spinal exercises, therapeutic massages and physical therapies. They can also advise their patients on how to lead a better lifestyle, in a natural and healthy way.

So, if we combine both types of medicines, we can get better results for our well-being. Just as a traditional doctor can refer a patient to a chiropractor for complementary treatment, chiropractors can also refer their patients to general practitioners. Thus, working together, the chiropractors and conventional physicians can ensure the health of their patients in a complete and optimal way.


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