Introduction to Chiropractic

Chiropractic as Philosophy, Science and Art
by Elizabeth M. Wisniewski, DC


“Chiropractic is a philosophy, science and art of things natural. A system of adjusting the segments of the spinal column by hand only, to correct the cause of dis-ease.” ~ B. J. Palmer, developer of chiropractic

Chiropractic was discovered by D. D. Palmer in 1895 and developed further by his son B. J. Palmer. It was founded on the principle that the body has an innate ability to heal itself when all nerve interference is removed via the chiropractic adjustment. The tradition of bone setters dates back thousands of years but what sets chiropractic apart is the application of a specific spinal adjustment based on the analysis and careful evaluation of the spine for subluxations. In chiropractic... a subluxation is described as a vertebra that has lost its juxtaposition with the one above, below or both but to the extent that is less than a luxation (medical dislocation).

Subluxations may be detected through plain film radiographs and careful palpation of the spine to find the vertebral segment that is either misaligned or simply is not moving properly in comparison to the segments above and below it. There are three main causes of subluxation known as trauma, toxins and auto suggestions (negative thoughts). 

Today’s Doctors of Chiropractic endure a rigorous curriculum to learn the philosophy, art and science that make up chiropractic. Students are required to have at least 90 undergraduate credits (more schools are moving towards requiring all entering students to have an undergraduate degree) that will provide basic understanding in areas such as anatomy and physiology. Most chiropractic programs run year round, which upon the graduation, the Doctor of Chiropractic candidate has over four academic years of training in areas such as palpation, adjusting technique, clinical nutrition, differential diagnosis and other subjects such as rehabilitation. This makes the chiropractor a doctor of choice for families seeking alternative health care in which the cause of the condition is identified and addressed.

This inside out approach is truly a health care model based on wellness and prevention of disease. This preventative care model is extremely cost effective especially when directly compared with allopathic models that have an "outside-in" approach i.e. surgery and medication. When homeostasis is maintained the body will manifest health. Chiropractic can help maintain this homeostatic balance within the body through specific spinal adjustments.

Chiropractors have a non-drug, non-surgical approach to health and wellness. Where they vary is often in their technique from AK to using instruments to adjust the spine. There are approximately 200 different chiropractic techniques so finding the DC who practices a technique that meets you and your family’s needs is an important step to optimal health and wellness.



About the Author

Elizabeth (Beth) M. Wisniewski, DC finished her chiropractic internship at Palmer College of Chiropractic West in San Jose, California USA. She received her Doctor of Chiropractic degree in November 2012. She has a BA from the University of Montana and is also a Certified Massage Therapist. She believes in innate intelligence – that the power that made the body, heals the body. She uses manual techniques such as Diversified adjusting and motion palpation, to detect and remove subluxation causing nerve interference in the patients. This allows the inherent wisdom of the body to flow freely thus creating an environment that supports self-healing.






Chiropractic Techniques
by Abbey Denaro, DC, BS, CPT
ATH Co-Editor of Chiropractic

If you have ever searched for a new chiropractor, you may have noticed that not all chiropractors are alike. In fact, we have a wide array of techniques to choose from, all with the same end-goal in mind – getting the patient well by removing interference to the nerves, allowing the muscles to balance out, and restore proper biomechanics, so that the body can function, heal, and perform the way it was meant to. Each of the following techniques allow for that treatment. As a Chiropractor, I believe that being a part of a healing profession that has so many proven and effective techniques is to everyone’s advantage. Besides allowing the doctor to choose and perfect the technique that is right for his or her body size, it allows the patient to choose which method best suits his or her preferences. It also allows us to vary techniques for different patients. For example, the technique used for a weight lifter may be different for an infant or a pregnant mom.

To make your Chiropractor search simpler and more meaningful, here is a glossary of terms with related videos. There are hundreds of different techniques, but these are some of the more common ones:

Activator Technique: a “low force” technique, which uses an instrument called the Activator. It allows for a controlled, specific, and light force adjustment(1).

Active Release Technique (ART): ART is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, and tennis elbow are just a few of the many conditions that can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART. These conditions all have one important thing in common: they are often a result of overused muscles(2).


Applied Kinesiology: the applied kinesiologist finds a muscle that tests weak and then attempts to determine why that muscle is not functioning properly. The practitioner will then evaluate and apply the therapy that will best eliminate the muscle weakness and help the patient. Therapies utilized can include specific joint manipulation or mobilization, various myofascial therapies, cranial techniques, meridian therapy, clinical nutrition, dietary management and various reflex procedures(3).

Atlas Orthogonality is the art and science of adjusting the first cervical vertebra (Atlas) with a specific, gentle, low force percussion instrument thereby restoring the spinal vertebrae to a more normal position. This allows for a clear pathway for spinal nerves maximizing function, mobility and health(4).

Blair Upper Cervical: Blair upper cervical care is a unique system of finding and correcting nerve interference (subluxation) in the upper neck area. Precise x-rays are taken to custom tailor the neck adjustment to your individual spinal anatomy and condition. This is important as we all look as different on the inside as the outside. This "blue print" of your neck allows the Blair chiropractor to deliver the adjustment that is exactly what your body needs(5).

Chiropractic Biophysics (CBP): CBP Technique emphasizes optimal posture and spinal alignment as the primary goals of chiropractic care while simultaneously documenting improvements in pain and functional based outcomes. The uniqueness of CBP treatment is in structural rehabilitation of the spine and posture. In addition to adjustments, exercises, stretches, and traction are provided(6).

CranioSacral: Using a soft touch generally no greater than 5 grams, or about the weight of a nickel, practitioners release restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system(7).


Diversified: This is the most commonly used technique. It involves high velocity, low amplitude adjustments done by hand and may result in a “popping” noise.

Flexion-Distraction (Cox Technique): The flexion-distraction adjustive procedure and an adjusting table enhanced and developed by James M. Cox, DC, DACBR, are based on a distractive force (supplied with the contact hand) combined with table motion. The Cox table is designed to restore normal physiological range of motion to the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spinal joints. Flexion-Decompression manipulation is a gentle, non-force adjusting procedure which works with the body's natural design to aid it in healing properly. Additional goals of the flexion-distraction adjustment include transfer of metabolites into the spinal disc, decreasing intradiscal pressures and decompressing inflamed/compressed spinal nerve roots(8).

Gonstead: The Gonstead System gives rise to a specific, definite approach to every segment of the spinal column. The detailed analysis includes instrumentation, digital palpation, motion palpation, visualization, and x-ray measurement followed by adjusting the joints of the spine by hand only(9).

Graston: Graston Technique® is an innovative, patented form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that enables clinicians to effectively break down scar tissue and fascial restrictions. The technique utilizes specially designed stainless steel instruments to specifically detect and effectively treat areas exhibiting soft tissue fibrosis or chronic inflammation(10).

Logan Basic: one of the lowest-force adjustive techniques. The technique is based on light, sustained force exerted against a specific contact point on the sacrum at the base of the spine. Auxiliary contacts at various points in the spine, or along specific muscles such as the piriformus, also can be used. Basic Technique uses the muscular structure surrounding the sacrum as a lever system for balancing the entire structure of the spine(11).

Network Technique: By using gentle and specific touches in a consistent sequence, where the spinal cord attaches to the spine, a patient’s own body learns to release complex patterns of tension and areas of disablement. Once this has been achieved, a further unwinding of deeper spinal tensions occur. These ‘touches’ consist of gentle finger or hand contacts applied at ‘spinal gateways™’ or ‘access points’ along the neck and lower spine. They are applied in such a way as to engage the higher part of the brain, the frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex. This is the most recently developed region of our brain and is the area through which we observe ourselves and make choices regarding our behaviour. This is the area through which we can reach a higher level of humanity, one which embraces spirituality and evolution.” During Network Spinal Analysis™ care, two ‘healing waves’ develop. One is a breathing wave which releases tension throughout the spine and body and relaxes the person. The other is called somatopsychic (or body-mind) wave™, which is associated with undulation or movement of the spine(12).

NUCCA: The focus of the NUCCA work is the relationship between the upper cervical spine (neck) and its influence on the central nervous system and brain stem function. It is this relationship that affects every aspect of human function from the feeling sensations in your fingers to regulating hormones, controlling movement, and providing the ability to hear, see, think, and breathe(13).

Sacro-Occipital Technique: This is a specific chiropractic technique that uses triangular-shaped blocks usually placed under the pelvis of the prone patient to treat problems identified in the low back. Low force, slow pressure types of manipulations/adjustments may be used to address joint problems identified in the skull. SOT may be used as an exclusive treatment technique or as an adjunct method of patient management(14).

Thompson (Drop): This is a specific chiropractic method and is a variation of the Diversified technique that uses a special table with several segments called drop pieces. These segments can be cocked up a fraction of an inch, so when the thrust is delivered, the table will drop this fraction of an inch. The object of the drop is to distract (open) the joint during the adjustment. The drop pieces assists the thrust, while minimizing the force required for the adjustment. Cavitation of the joint may or may not occur(15).

Upper Cervical: Upper Cervical Specific is a toggle recoil technique, in which the adjustment establishes motion, following the proper line of correction, and the segment finds its natural position innately. focuses on the Atlas Subluxation Complex (ASC). The complex is usually considered to include the three osseous components at the top of the human spine: the Occiput (skull, or CO), the Atlas (Cl) and the Axis (C2). The technique focuses on specific corrections to the structure of the Atlas complex to restore correct structure to it and thus, to promote optimal function of nerves related to the complex(16).

Webster Technqiue: The Webster technique is a specific chiropractic analysis and diversified adjustment. The goal of the adjustment is to reduce the effects of sacral subluxation/ SI joint dysfunction. In so doing neuro-biomechanical function in the pelvis is improved. It is most commonly used for pregnant women but can be used on all weight-bearing patients(17).


About the Author

Dr. Abbey Denaro is a Chiropractor and graduate of Palmer West College of Chiropractic. As a Chiropractor with a background in Exercise Physiology and personal training, she has a clear understanding of the human body and how it functions optimally. Her passion is providing calming, warm, and effective care for pregnant moms and children. For more information, visit:

Find on Facebook: Abbey Denaro

See Abbey's full bio on ATH.




Spiritual & Healing Practices | Healthy Lifestyles | Community | Arts | Find Practitioners & Orgs | Forums
Online Learning Center | Costa Rica Retreat Center | Submissions | Editors | Terms and Conditions | About Us / Contact Us


Disclaimer. Each category is under the supervision of dedicated editors who are passionate about their topic and believe that raising people's awareness is one way to make a difference in the world. You may or may not agree with all that is presented. Since respectful discourse is an excellent way to learn and grow, we welcome comments on articles and your participation on the Forums.

  © 2008-2018 ATH     REGISTER      LOGIN Design by MacDaddi | Developed by AWE