Psychology Department

Health Psychology Home Page

Papers written by students providing scientific reviews of topics related to health and well being

  HomeWeight LossAlternative Therapy | Supplements | Eating Disorders | Fitness | Links | Self-Assessment | About this Page |



A Natural Approach to Optimal Health






Tiffany Schoen

September 24, 2007




“The doctor of the future will give no medicine,

but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame,

in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” 

-Thomas Edison


Chiropractic care is a form of health care that focuses on the relationship between the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system. 



The goal of chiropractic is to normalize the relationship between the body’s structure, primarily concentrating on the spine, and its function.



“Chiropractic is a health care discipline which emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery” (



Chiropractic is recognized as one of the safest forms of treatment for aches and pains that utilizes a method of healing, paying particular attention to the spine for the treatment and prevention of ailments. 


“The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health. In addition, Doctors of Chiropractic recognize the value and responsibility of working in cooperation with other health care practitioners when in the best interest of the patient” (


Chiropractic accomplishes this goal by determining and correcting the underlying problem(s) within the human body rather than simply treating the symptoms of the disease.  Symptoms are warning signs.  Pain such as backaches, neck pain, joint pains, headaches, numbness, and tingling are never normal conditions for the body to endure at any age.  Chiropractic can treat these underlying causes of aches and pains by manipulating the spine to realign the vertebrae in the spinal column.  Stress, trauma, chemical imbalances, pinched nerves, scoliosis, fibromyalgia, injuries from accidents, horseplay, falls, muscle stiffness, migraines, cholesterol, sleep deprivation, pregnancy, etc. all contribute to subluxations of the spine.  




Thus, the main objective of chiropractic is to determine the problem and restore the body to optimal health by adjustments, physical therapies, rest, and proper posture.



What is Chiropractic?


“Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health” (  Doctors of Chiropractic, or chiropractors, use a hands-on approach during patient examination to address the root of the problem of the individual to formulate a proper diagnosis and treatment.


“Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling” (




Chiropractic care involves the manual spinal manipulation or adjustment of the spine and other joints in the body.  The term “adjustment” refers to the specific force chiropractors apply to vertebrae that have abnormal movement patterns or fail to function normally.


According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA):


The purpose of manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypomobile – or restricted in their movement – as a result of a tissue injury. Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function for the sufferer. Manipulation, or adjustment of the affected joint and tissues, restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and allowing tissues to heal. (



“A subluxation is a complex of functional and/or structural and/or pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health” (



For this reason, spinal manipulation is the objective of each adjustment.  With each manipulation, the subluxation of the spinal cord is reduced resulting in realignment of the spine permitting a greater range of motion of the body, reduced nerve irritability, less fibromyalgia or muscle stiffness, as well as less pain in the body.  “The chiropractic adjustment is a quick thrust applied to a vertebra for the purpose of correcting its position, movement or both. Adjustments are often accompanied by an audible release of gas in the spinal joints that sounds like a ‘crack.’” (  With each manipulation, the body is able to restore itself to its natural settings prior to the body’s encounters with stress, muscle stiffness, etc. that occur throughout the day.  Hence, the heart of chiropractic care is to eliminate any physiological blocks to the proper expression of the body’s innate wisdom.  Once these interferences are reduced, improved health is the natural consequence (


History of Chiropractic

 Daniel David Palmer, DC



Throughout the twentieth century, doctors of chiropractic gained acknowledgement and legal recognition in all fifty states and also by health insurance companies.  As a result of the great influence chiropractic has partaken in United States, a continuing recognition and respect for the chiropractic profession has led to growing support for chiropractic care all over the world.


Doctors of chiropractic have become “pioneers in the field of non-invasive care promoting science-based approaches to a variety of ailments” (   


An enduring and persistent commitment to chiropractic research will guide scientists, physicians, and researchers to even more innovations in the development of chiropractic care and healthcare without medicine.


Are There Any Risks?




© Bob Stockfield




According to the American Chiropractic Association:


A March 2004 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that chiropractic care is more effective than medical care at treating chronic low-back pain in those patients who have been experiencing the symptoms for one year or less. In addition, a study published in the July 15, 2003 edition of the journal Spine found that manual manipulation provides better short-term relief of chronic spinal pain than a variety of medications (



Spinal manipulations conducted in the chiropractic field are completely safe and effective in treating spinal pain.  Manipulations performed by Doctors of Chiropractic reduce pain, decrease medication intake, speedily progresses physical therapy, and does not require much outside effort with the exception of natural health promotions such as sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet – all contributing factors to obtaining optimal health in a natural manner.


In another study, the ACA noted:


In fact, after an extensive study of all currently available care for low back problems, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research—a federal government research organization—recommended that low back pain sufferers choose the most conservative care first. And it recommended spinal manipulation as the only safe and effective, drugless form of initial professional treatment for acute low back problems in adults (



Scientific Research


According to a randomized clinical study conducted in 2004 by Bronfort et al, research shows that there is evidence that spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) provides more short-term relief than mobilization (MOB), but also shows that an individual endures a faster recovery than a commonly used physical therapy treatment. 


Overall, the data that can be collected from this study is that the use to spinal manipulation therapy and/or mobilization are both effective feasible options for the treatment of both lower back and neck pain.



In another study conducted by Boone et al in 2007 proved that chiropractic care over a period of five and a half months improved the quality of life of the test individuals (firefighters):


In another study conducted by Mark Morningstar, DC, in 2007, he tested methods such as the bracing treatment upon adolescent idiopathic scoliosis individuals.  The bracing treatment is prescribed for individuals who have spinal curvatures up to roughly 35 degrees. 


In a final study, Rubinstein et al conducted a cohort study in 2007 that tested whether or not the benefits outweigh the risks for patients undergoing chiropractic care for neck pain.




            Overall, chiropractic care is very effective in the treatment of the spine and musculoskeletal system.  Maintenance care of the human body is vital in our day in age due to the fact that we live in such a fast-paced world with many stresses everyday.  These stresses, if not dealt with properly, can have negative effects on an individual’s health and can, therefore, inhibit the body to reach optimal health and allow for a healthy quality of life.  You must invest in your health today; otherwise, disease may destroy you in every way later. 


 “You can make time for wellness now or you can make time for sickness later.”

-- Anthony Robbins


The choice is yours.



Highly recommended:

To see a 3-D image, illustration of the human body, subluxation, degeneration, and “3-D Spine Simulator” go to ChiroMatrix:

Extra Information


Paradigm of Chiropractors:



“The ACC is committed to greater public service through reaching consensus on the following issues which are important to the chiropractic profession:






Boone, W.R., DC, Ph.D., McAllister, Wesley B.A., DC. (2007). “Changes in Physical State and Self-Perceptions in Domains of Health Related Quality of Life Among Public Safety Personnel Undergoing Chiropractic Care.” Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, 1-7.


Bronfort G, Haas M, Evans RL, Bouter LM. (2004). “Efficacy of spinal manipulation and mobilization for low back pain and neck pain: a systematic review and best evidence synthesis.” The Spine Journal: Official Journal of the North American Spine Society, 4(3):335-56.

Morningstar, Mark, DC. (2007). “Integrative Treatment Using Chiropractic and Conventional Techniques for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: Outcomes in Four Patients.” Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, 1-7.

Rubinstein S.M., Leboeuf-Yde C., Knol D.L., de Koekkoek T.E., Pfeifle C.E., van Tulder M.W.. (2007). “The Benefits Outweigh the Risks for Patients Undergoing Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain: A Prospective, Multicenter, Cohort Study.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 30(6), 408-18.



Psychology Department

The Health Psychology Home Page is produced and maintained by David Schlundt, PhD.

Vanderbilt Homepage | Introduction to Vanderbilt | Admissions | Colleges & Schools | Research Centers | News & Media Information | People at Vanderbilt | Libraries |Vanderbilt Register | Medical Center 

  Return to the Health Psychology Home Page
  Send E-mail comments or questions to Dr. Schlundt