Chiropractic is the most widely accepted and most frequently used type of “alternative” healthcare in the United States. This is largely due to the fact that it works, and because of that, there has been a steady increase in acceptance by the public, third-party payers, and the Federal government. Since the mid-1990s, a number of outside (non-chiropractic) observers have suggested that chiropractic has now entered mainstream healthcare.

One can position chiropractic as being BOTH alternative and mainstream. It is “alternative” since it approaches healthcare from an entirely different direction compared to the primary care medical profession. Chiropractic is non-surgical and promotes diet and nutritional approaches vs. drugs and surgery. Chiropractic is also arguably “mainstream” as it has evolved into a strongly utilized form of primary care through popular acceptance and utilization by the public.

So, what role does chiropractic play in today’s health delivery system? This question is still being debated, but there appears to be three camps: 1) Specialist—limited to musculoskeletal (MSK) complaints on an interdisciplinary primary healthcare team; 2) Primary healthcare “gatekeepers” that focus on ambulatory MSK complaints; 3) Generalist primary healthcare provider of “alternative or complementary” medicine that manage and/or co-manage both MSK AND non-MSK conditions.

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