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Chiropractic is the most widely-used alternative medical treatment in the United States, with between 6 and 9 percent of the U.S. population seeing a chiropractor on at least an annual basis. Chiropractic has been touted as a treatment for back and neck pain, headaches, repetitive strains, arthritis, generalized fatigue, vertigo, autism, infertility, pediatric acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, varicose veins, and just about any other condition one can imagine. Indeed the founder of chiropractic, Daniel Palmer, claimed that ninety-five percent of all human disease was caused by misalignment in the vertebra – called “subluxation” – that a chiropractor could cure by manually manipulating the spine.
The primary way chiropractors treat these “subluxations” is through spinal adjustment. Though techniques vary, in general terms an “adjustment” involves the use of force (either manual or through the use of specialized equipment) to correct the alignment, motion, or function of parts of the spine.
Like many types of health treatment, the spinal adjustments used by chiropractors have risks. These risks can be relatively benign, like increased soreness or muscular strains. The risks can also be quite serious, such as ruptured discs or nerve compression.
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