This seems to be a very confusing topic … especially amongst Chiropractors.
In my view, and in the view of many other Chiropractors who are practicing in a pure or principled manner (i.e. basing everything that they do in practice according to the 33 principles that Chiropractic was founded and developed upon), Chiropractic does not “treat” anything … including pain.
Since its very beginning, Chiropractors have had differences of opinion as to what defines a Chiropractor and what is Chiropractic. They have debated whether Chiropractic includes anything other than the specific detection and correction of a vertebral subluxation (VS) – things like therapy, nutrition, or diagnosis.
Many Chiropractors today have realized that their greatest value to the public is to offer a service that is unique, safe and shown to have benefited millions of people. They know that there are plenty of choices that people have regarding their health. Only Chiropractic encompasses a minimalist concept that honors the body by recognizing the innate potential that each person is given.
It is this minimalism that each principled Chiropractor incorporates into how he or she cares for the individual.
We introduce the smallest force to assist the body in its ability to self-correct the VS. Without VS, that person’s unique innate intelligence can function to sustain and enhance that person at his/her optimum ability to exist at whatever level of life/health potential he/she has.
Returning to the question of pain and Chiropractic, the job of the Chiropractor is to determine if there are one or more VS’s present. That VS is an entity in and of itself, with the ramifications that might alter any number of the human body’s functions. I do not think that the identification of VS – even if it is exactly where the pain is being perceived by the “patient” – is necessarily the cause of the pain. No more so than a runny nose is the cause of a cold.
So when someone presents to the Chiropractor with pain, and that person feels it at some point in the back area, the Chiropractor checks their entire spine for VS. If one or more subluxations exist (even when not in the area where the person is complaining, or when it is), that Chiropractor corrects any and all VS’s because they have created a block in the person’s ability to function optimally.