General Health

7 Things To Know About Chiropractic Care

For people with an injury, chronic pain, headaches, musculoskeletal and other nerve problems, knowing where to turn for answers can be overwhelming. Medical and chiropractic doctors, orthopedic specialists, and physical and massage therapists can each provide guidance and relief for many of these symptoms and conditions.

When it comes to chiropractic, more than 22 million Americans visit a chiropractor annually, but many are still in the dark about when, how and why to seek treatment from these specialists.

Chiropractic care involves manipulation of the spine, which relieves pressure on nerves, allowing them to do their job more effectively.

Most people take their nerves for granted, but the nervous system is incredibly complex and is involved in everything the body does. When nerves are damaged, we feel pain.

"As chiropractors, we see pain as an alarm to a problem that needs solving," explained Dr. Chris Outten of Outten Chiropractic in Cary. "Rather than masking these symptoms with medications, our job is to locate any stress on the nervous system that may be impacting the body's ability to communicate, regulate and therefore heal itself. When indicated, we use spinal manipulation to relieve this stress and help our patients feel better."

Records of spinal manipulations date back to prehistoric times – as far back as 5,000 B.C.

Chiropractic care as we know it today has been used for more than 100 years to relieve pain and restore health. In fact, the first official chiropractic adjustment was performed back in 1895 by Dr. Daniel David Palmer.

A chiropractor is a licensed physician and is acknowledged as such under North Carolina law.

Much like medical doctors, chiropractors are required to acquire a four-year undergraduate degree followed by chiropractic college, which is typically a four-year degree structured much like medical school.

Education typically includes a comprehensive academic program as well as residency and/or internship training. To earn and maintain their license, chiropractors must pass the National Board Exam and Certification as well as a statewide licensing exam, and complete 18 hours of continuing education per year.

"People are often surprised when I tell them that chiropractic college – hour per hour – is slightly longer than medical school," said Dr. Tom Ayres of Ayres Chiropractic & Sports Injury Center in Raleigh. "And from there, many of us have gone on to get specialty certifications or degrees in areas such as sports medicine, pediatrics, radiology or other specialty areas."

Chiropractic medicine is intended for many conditions, including injury, recurrent headaches, chronic pain, fatigue or stress, not just back and neck pain.

Among the many benefits reported by patients are: pain relief, reduction of inflammation, better ability to sleep, blood pressure regulation, improved organ function and a sense of overall well-being.

"We often teach wellness to our patients, understanding that a patient's whole health can impact nerve function," Outten said. "We educate them on physical, chemical and emotional stressors – all of which can have an impact on nerve health. For decades, we've pushed exercise, diet and stress reduction – all-in combination with spinal manipulation and other therapies as needed."

“From Michael Jordan to Tom Brady and Tiger Woods, many professional athletes laud the benefits of chiropractic care. As such, many athletic teams' medical roster includes a chiropractor.”


"Chiropractors don't claim to cure anything – we believe the body often has the ability to heal itself if given the right tools," Ayres explained. "Instead of trying to kill off bacteria or perform surgery as medical doctors might, we're focused on working with the body to address the problem."

He added, "There are certainly times when medical treatment or physical therapy can better address a patient's problem. Chiropractors are very aware of their own skill sets, and we're very open to referring out if we think a patient needs something that another specialist is better suited to treat."


From Michael Jordan to Tom Brady and Tiger Woods, many professional athletes laud the benefits of chiropractic care. As such, many athletic teams' medical roster includes a chiropractor.

"As a chiropractor focused on sports medicine, I've been selected for many major athletic events, including the Olympic Games, two world championship events and many international competitions," Ayres pointed out. "When you enter the training rooms at these elite events, you see that more than half the care delivered to these athletes is chiropractic in nature."

Ayers said, "The athletes ask for it because it works – they need to perform, and chiropractic care can often help them feel better without surgery or medication."


It's a misconception that chiropractic care is costly.

Patients undergoing chiropractic care often end up avoiding costly interventions such as surgery, and some are able to reduce or avoid medications altogether – which also saves money in the long-run.

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