Chiropractic In South Africa


Chiropractic is a health profession specialising in the diagnosis, treatment and

prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the effects of

these disorders on the functioning of the nervous system and general health.

Chiropractic practitioners essentially rely upon non-invasive treatment methods and

will refer patients to medical practitioners should medication or surgery be indicated.

This approach is further reinforced by chiropractors in their promotion of healthy

lifestyles such as the avoidance of smoking and excess stress, proper diet and



Chiropractic education and training is extensive and in South Africa a Master’s

Degree in Chiropractic is awarded after a six year program.


Primary conditions treated

Back pain, neck pain and headaches are extremely common and can be very

debilitating symptoms. They are also the primary reason patients seek chiropractic

care. The distinguishing features of chiropractic care that has allowed for having

patient and public acceptance has been the ability to provide a readily available,

caring and sympathetic, low cost, low risk, non-invasive and natural healing approach

to relieving symptoms of back pain, neck pain and certain types of headache.

The basic treatment offered by chiropractors is relatively quick and inexpensive. In

South Africa the majority of medical schemes make provision for reimbursement of

chiropractic services. The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act

provides for complete reimbursement of cases treated by registered chiropractors.

The typical use of chiropractic care by knowledgeable patients is to seek care during

flare-ups of pain and limiting the care to a few treatments per episode. Using this

level of restraint, chiropractic care is less expensive than other treatment options

where a series of examinations, medication and diagnostic procedures are often

routinely utilised.


Cost effective care

Considering the high costs of medical care in the case of back related problems,

more often resulting in extensive diagnostic procedures, medication, surgery and

hospitalisation, it makes economical sense to encourage patients to seek a more cost

effective route which could save medical schemes millions of rands annually.

It is interesting to note that the Ministry of Health in Ontario, Canada, commissioned

a study by three health economists led by Professor Pran Manga to investigate the

cost of back related problems to the province. The 216-page report listed several

findings that could save Ontario billions of dollars (approximately $7 billion) annually

by utilising chiropractic services. Professor Manga stated, "There is an overwhelming

body of evidence indicating that chiropractic management of low-back pain is more

cost effective than medical management".


Lower back pain

Low back pain has reached epidemic proportions in virtually all industrialised nations

and is ranked second only to headaches as the most frequently reported cause of

pain. The results of several studies indicate that up to 90% of all people will

experience back pain at some stage of their lives and treatment has, in turn, become

the single biggest headache for the medical profession. The British orthopedic

surgeon Gordon Waddel, in his acclaimed new text "The Back Pain Revolution", states

that back pain is a 20th century medical disaster.


In national health care systems throughout the world back pain is common, poorly

managed and very expensive in terms of both direct treatment costs as well as the

indirect costs of disability and lost productivity.


Several professions share the responsibility of healthcare and each should be

considered equally in respect of the service rendered. Chiropractic fulfils a vital role in

healthcare and can substantially contribute to healthcare at an effective and cost-

effective level.