Chiropractic • How does it work?

Chiropractic is defined as a complementary medicine and its practitioners manipulate the misalignments of the joints, especially those of the spinal column.

Chiropractic - Glowing green skeleton against black background

The treatment is based on the belief that misalignments cause other disorders of the nerves, muscles and organs. In the chiropractic point of view, the body is a neuro-musculoskeletal system in which malfunction in one part causes malfunction in the other parts.

The NCBI performed a review of chiropractic through published studies and scientific databases. They ended up with only a limited number of studies to include and deemed most of them relatively inconclusive, stating that more studies on larger scales need to be performed. They concluded there is an “impact” on upper extremity conditions (shoulder and neck trigger points, neck pain and sports injuries). For other conditions, like asthma and colic, they recommended more study. It has been deemed as effective for chronic back pain by other reviews.

There are over 200 different, specific techniques in chiropractic treatment. Several are covered in Wikipedia.

One technique not easily discovered bears mentioning here: Network Spinal Analysis. On one NSA website (, it is described as using precise, gentle, low-force (light touch) contacts along the spine, to help the brain connect more effectively with the body.

Anecdote: About 11 years ago, I developed severe headaches and back pain, not related to injury. I visited a “bone-cracker” chiropractor for about a year and I did experience some improvement. Then a friend cautioned me about neck manipulations which, very rarely, have caused paralysis. By rarely, I mean one in 400,000 (or another study has it at one in 5.8 million). Still, my friend has a good friend that sustained injury during a neck manipulation and he will be wheelchair-bound for the remainder of his life. My chiropractor honored my wishes and used a device to send impulses to that area of my spine instead of jerking my neck around.

I went in search of a more gentle approach and discovered two Network chiropractors in my neighborhood. I received more help in three months with them than I did in one year from the traditional chiropractor and they barely touched me. I consider Network Spinal Analysis to be energy medicine.

One article online calls NSA quackery (there’s always someone…) but there is evidence to support this form of adjustment and the phenomenon called the spinal wave. You can find a good review on the NCBI website:

To find a practitioner in the US or Canada:  In the UK:  You may find others around the world by searching for “NSA chiropractors in New Zealand,” for example.

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