The medicine of hands

From the Greek "kheir" (the hand) and "pràxis" (action, which acts).

Chiropractic is a medicine that works with the hands. Characterized by its manual approach, it aims to encompass a patient orientation towards a lifestyle that is in accordance with the requirements of his locomotor apparatus.

It is a natural and comprehensive medical approach centered on the diagnosis, treatment, prophylaxis and rehabilitation of functional disorders and painful syndromes of the locomotor system, as well as their biomechanical and neurophysiological consequences. The vertebral column, pelvis and peripheral joints play a central diagnostic and therapeutic role.

With more than a century of experience and practice, Chiropractic is a discipline of scientific medicine. It mainly uses non-invasive and non-drug interventions and is fully integrated with a modern approach to health. The doctor in Chiropractic therefore has a complete medical training as well as specialist skills in diagnosis, manual treatment and prevention of dysfunctions of the locomotor apparatus as well as the resulting disorders.


An observation art

Chiropractic is based on the art of observation. The chiropractor seeks to understand the language of the body in all its expressions: how a man stands up, walks, shakes hands, a lower shoulder, closed face, a leaning head.

All expressions of the body through attitude and gesture constitute signals of alert and indications of a dysfunction that the chiropractor is trying to determine.

It goes back "to the origin of the evil" which by a chain of compensation over time ended up expressing itself in a specific place. Walking for years with a displaced pelvis or an ill-cared sprain can create problems throughout the spine building. For example, the body can become blocked in "torticollis" and a bad dental occlusion can in turn cause pain in the neck and then disrupt the lumbar.

Life is movement. The body moves and thinks through exchanges. Chiropractors were the first to be interested in the interrelations in the body. Indeed, anatomically and physiologically, the vertebral column and the nervous system are intimately linked. For the chiropractor, the spine is "the tree of life" and it pays particular attention to the proper functioning of each vertebral entity.

Chiropractic allows adjustments without pain, with extreme precision, safety, comfort and discernment, giving the patient a state of relaxation and well-being.


The origins of an ancient practice

If Chiropractic was born as a discipline in the nineteenth century in the United States, its roots date back much earlier. This is in fact the heir of antic traditions and of the first civilizations in particular Chinese, Egyptian and Greek who had knowledge of joint manipulations and relate the beneficial effects in several sources. The earliest occurrences of the column adjustments have been found on Chinese etchings dating back more than 4000 years. At the same time, the Indian tradition of Yoga also emphasizes the importance of keeping the spine flexible, professing "that a person is only as healthy as his spine." Then, around 1500 BC, Greece undertook the experience of the treatment of the back. Considered the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates - and Galen after him, places the joint manipulations within the process of healing. Author of numerous manuscripts such as Manipulation and Importance of Good Health ou Setting Joints By Leverage (500 av. J-C.), Hippocrates produces a bibliography, the majority of which refers to the back, with particular emphasis on the key role of the spine and system nervous. He noted in his writings to the attention of his successors "... Know the spinal column because it is the source of many diseases."

These practices seem to disappear with the fall of the Roman empire and, like the majority of the knowledge inherited from antiquity, remain forgotten during the Middle Ages. While some writings relate the healing exploits of individuals through manipulation, they nontheless remain secondary. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, the Ancien Régime sees these practices reemerge through a new category, notably during the Enlightenment. Among the dispensaries of care, alongside the midwife and the barber-surgeon, there is, in fact, the dresser - name attributed to the persons operating the manipulations on the body. The midwives and the dressers are subsequently rejected from the body of the healers by the arrival of the doctors constituting the acknowledged professional body.

The benefits of these practices will not be rediscovered much later, in the United States. at the end of the nineteenth century by Dr. Daniel David Palmer (1845-1913) who rediscovers this practice and contributes considerably to a true institutionalization of the discipline. Teacher and beekeeper, Palmer was primarily a self-taught man attracted by the healing sciences. Initially interested in magnetic healing with several practitioners, he began his own activity with the opening of his practice in 1887. It is following a series of experiments and manipulations that Palmer manages to cure Mr. Lillard, a patient who became deaf seventeen years earlier as a result of a false move. Linking the movement of the vertebrae to the nervous system, Palmer actually succeeded in tracing the source of the evil and, with a series of adjustments on the spine, re-established Mr. Lillard's hearing. Dr. Palmer's reputation began to grow in importance as well as his powerful new medicine to treat people without medication. The invention of the name attributed to this new science of manipulation is by the way the work of one of the first patients of Dr. Palmer, a Greek minister and teacher. The latter takes two Greek words "kheir" (the hand) and "pràxis" (action, which acts) and thus creates the Chiropractic name.

Considered as a threat to established medicine, Chiropractic takes its rise not without difficulties. After being locked up for the illegal practice of medicine, Dr. Palmer nevertheless succeeded, with the help of his son, in founding the Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1897. His son, Joshua Palmer, continues the work by developing it technically and adapting it to the scientific knowledge of the time. Thanks to him, another school opened in 1902 near Chicago.


An officially recognized medical profession.


Chiropractic is one of the five academic disciplines of scientific medicine, recognized by the Federal Law on Medical Professions (LPmed). As doctors and dentists, for example, chiropractors and chiropractors hold the title of Doctor, they can be consulted directly by patients without any intermediary. They exercise independently, make their diagnosis and prescribe any additional examinations or treatments. Their benefits are covered by basic health insurance.


Legal bases in Switzerland

The training and activity of chiropractors, as well as the cost of their services, are governed by the following federal laws and their respective enforcement orders:


  • Federal Law on Medical Professions (MED)
  • Federal Health Insurance Act (LaMal)
  • Federal Accident Insurance Act (LAA)
  • Federal Law on Military Insurance (LAM)
  • Radiation Protection Act (LRaP)


Acknowledgment of chiropractors by the Federal Law on Medical Professions (LPmed) dates from 1 September 2007. LPmed recognizes and regulates the activities of five full-fledged medical professions: chiropractors, dentists, doctors, pharmacists and veterinarians.

Because of the federalist nature of health legislation, additional provisions are included in cantonal legislation. The services of chiropractors have been recognized as prescribing medical services since the partial revision of the health and accident insurance legislation of 1911 in 1964.

This recognition implies that the chiropractic benefits are covered by the basic health insurance, as well as by accident and SUVA insurance.


International Integration

The profession of chiropractor enjoys legal recognition in most European countries, though in various forms. In most cases, it is recognized as a profession independent of the health field.

The various national professional associations are grouped within the European Union of Chiropractors (ECU). One of its aims is, in particular, to achieve a unification of training programs, in particular at the level of postgraduate training at the assistantship. The ECU also promotes research. Each year, it organizes a European Continuing Education Congress, held alternately in each of the member countries.

The various national professional associations are members of the World Federation of Chiropractic WFC. WFC is in contact with major international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), with which it conducts a project in the field of occupational medicine. WFC is part of the Council of International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS), founded under the patronage of WHO and UNESCO and based in Geneva. The WFC organizes a biennial conference, often in collaboration with other international organizations, on one or other of the themes related to the musculoskeletal system.

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Institut Chiropratique Genève

Boulevard des Tranchées 44

1206 Geneva

T : +41 22 346 47 33

F : +41 22 347 70 93







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