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Chiropractic is a health care discipline and profession that emphasizes diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine, under the hypothesis that these disorders affect general health via the nervous system.[1] It is generally categorized as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM),[2] a characterization that many chiropractors reject.[3] Although chiropractors have many attributes of primary care providers, chiropractic has more of the attributes of a medical specialty like dentistry or podiatry.[4] The main chiropractic treatment technique involves manual therapy, including manipulation of the spine, other joints, and soft tissues; treatment also includes exercises and health and lifestyle counseling.[5] Traditional chiropractic assumes that a vertebral subluxation or spinal joint dysfunction interferes with the body's function and its innate intelligence,[6] a vitalistic notion that brings ridicule from mainstream science and medicine.[7]

D.D. Palmer founded chiropractic in the 1890s and his son B.J. Palmer helped to expand it in the early 20th century.[8] It has two main groups: "straights", now the minority, emphasize vitalism, innate intelligence and spinal adjustments, and consider subluxations to be the leading cause of all disease; "mixers" are more open to mainstream and alternative medical techniques such as exercise, massage, nutritional supplements, and acupuncture.[9] Chiropractic is well established in the U.S., Canada and Australia[10] and is the third largest health profession, behind medicine and dentistry.[11] Most who seek chiropractic care do so for low back pain.[12]

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