The following article by Joe Strauss, D.C., F.C.S.C., does a particularly good job in explaining the difference between a true Chiropractic Adjustment and a Musculoskeletal Manipulation.
In the science of medicine and the science of chiropractic we find an overlapping. It is the only place where there is a common area in these two professions. It is shown by the shaded area. The small area includes the spine and the nerve system. Unfortunately, some chiropractors have taken this lesser area, the anatomy of the spine and the nerve system along with the physiology of these two areas and by that have expanded chiropractic into the field of medicine and into the objective of medicine – the treatment of disease. The history of that aberration in chiropractic could fill a book, but it most assuredly began with the observation of certain musculoskeletal conditions of the spine and adjacent spinal area and the successful treatment of structural problems.
It could be argued that there are certain medical procedures that resemble the art of chiropractic. Here is where the respective procedures that resemble the art of both chiropractic and medicine come into view. The objective of medicine is to treat disease. Manipulation may achieve that objective if the condition/disease is musculoskeletal. Surgery is part of the art form to accomplish the medical objective. The physician must be able to identify parts of the human body, so dissection is of value. Chiropractic science requires only an academic knowledge of anatomy, and does not need dissection. It does nothing to enhance the education of a chiropractor in preparing him to achieve his objective. It serves only to give him more impetus to appropriating the medical objective. As we move along our continuum, we come to the philosophy of chiropractic. It should be noted that the positions of the 3 aspects of medicine and chiropractic are for convenience sake only and do not relate to the importance of the science, art and philosophy of either profession.
The philosophy of chiropractic, one can see from Fig. 1, is as far from the philosophy of medicine as could be. While there is an overlapping or common ground in the science, there is none in the philosophy. Because the philosophies of both are so different, the objective that develops from each philosophy differs. The objective of chiropractic is to correct vertebral subluxations in order to enable the innate intelligence of the body to be better expressed. It is not difficult to see that is a far cry from the objective of medicine ,for the following reasons:
1. Medicine does not acknowledge an innate intelligence in their philosophy.
2. What they do acknowledge, by terms such as viz medicitrix naturae and similar terms, in no way resembles the innate intelligence of the body. The former is a mechanistic construct, the latter is a vitalistic one.
3. The vertebral subluxation, as chiropractic defines it is not recognized by medicine. It is not a disease, nor something that they address.
4. Nothing in the medical art form is aimed at locating, analyzing and correcting vertebral subluxations.
5. Medical treatment addresses disease. Chiropractic adjustment does not.
As you can see from Fig 1, the only thing that chiropractic and the practice of medicine have in common is a limited amount of scientific knowledge.
Read more about Joe Strauss, D.C., F.C.S.C.