The Difference !

There are fundamental differences between the ICA and the ACA. Look at the following and determine for yourself who best represents your views of the principles and uniqueness of chiropractic.



What is Manipulation?

Manipulation is treatment using the doctor's hands to apply body leverage and a physical thrust to one joint or a group of related joints to restore joint and related tissue function. Through the use of manipulation, the doctor seeks to provide relief from symptoms, improve joint and muscle function, and speed recovery. Spinal manipulation is the most common form of manipulation. Manipulation should not be confused with other forms of manual therapy such as mobilization and massage. (ACA policy)

Spinal Adjustment and Spinal Manipulation.

The ICA holds that the chiropractic spinal adjustment is unique and singular to the chiropractic profession. The chiropractic adjustment shall be defined as a specific directional thrust that sets a vertebrae into motion with the intent to improve its juxtaposition segmentaly in relationship to its articular mates thus reducing or correcting the neuroforaminal / neural canal encroachment factors inherent in the chiropractic vertebral subluxation complex.

The adjustment is characterized by a specific thrust applied to the vertebrae utilizing parts of the vertebrae and contiguous structures as levers to directionally correct articular malposition. Adjustment shall differentiated from spinal manipulation in that the adjustment can only be applied to a vertebrae malposition with the express intent to improve or correct the subluxation, whereas any joint, subluxated or not, may be manipulated to mobilize the joint or to put the joint through its range of motion.

Chiropractic is a specialized field in the healing arts, and by prior rights, the spinal adjustment is distinct and singular to the chiropractic adjustment. (ICA policy)


When a doctor of chiropractic clinically observes a condition in a patient, he seeks to find why, just as is done in physics, chemistry, and medicine. After such clinical observations are made, an attempt is made to explain the condition by a hypothesis. Such hypotheses are found in chiropractic literature under the heading of "Chiropractic Principles or Philosophy", but they are chiropractic hypotheses.

The probability or non-probability of the hypothesis does not alter the chiropractic clinical facts, for the hypothesis is simply an interim attempt to explain the etiology of the clinical fact.

Chiropractic treats the ailment disclosed by the clinical facts, not by hypothesis. The patient s needs are met by the clinical efficacy of chiropractic, not by conflicting arguments on hypothesis.

Every chiropractic college teaches physical examination and diagnostic procedures and examines (or tests) in physical, clinical, laboratory, and differential analysis, in addition to chiropractic analysis. Before receiving a license to practice chiropractic, candidates are examined in diagnosis either by official state boards or by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, or both.

The chiropractic curriculum is oriented toward patient management, that is, to the recognition of the measures best suited to the restoration and maintenance of the patient s good health (whether such measures are applied by a doctor of chiropractic or by another health professional on referral.)

Present day chiropractic does not hold that the subluxation is the only cause of disease. Whatever may have been said in chiropractic literature years ago, today s chiropractic education and practice recognizes multiple causes of, and multiple methods of treatment for, disease.

The doctor of chiropractic must first evaluate the needs of the patient before administering any type of care. If he should determine that the case is within his scope, he proceeds to provide appropriate care. But if he determines that the patient requires another type of care, he refers the patient to that method which he believes is most advantageous. (Chiropractic White paper, May 1969, Board approved, July 1975.) (ACA policy)

Chiropractic Diagnosis

The Doctor of Chiropractic is educated in the basic clinical and chiropractic sciences, in other health related subjects, and in appropriate physical, clinical, laboratory and radiological investigative procedures. A doctor of Chiropractic is considered by the International Chiropractors Association to be a portal of entry, primary health-care provider.

The ICA holds that it is the basic responsibility of the doctor of chiropractic to employ such diagnostic processes as are necessary in his or her professional judgment to determine the need for care and, in particular to detect the presence, location and nature of chiropractic lesions (subluxation and attendant biomechanical, biochemical, structural and neurophysiological problems, etc.) and prepare and administer an appropriate course of care within the realm of chiropractic specialty.

In addition, Doctors of Chiropractic use diagnostic procedures for the purpose of:

A. Determining appropriate case management.

1. To ascertain the nature of the patient’s problem and respond appropriately so as to secure the optimal care for the patient. Inherent in this concept is the obligation to consult with or refer to other health care providers before, during or after the rendering of chiropractic care, if in his or her professional opinion, it is appropriate and in the best interest of the patient.

2. To assess any subluxation complexes discovered in the patient along with related biomechanical, biochemical and neurophysiological presentations.

3. To identify and associated, aggravating or complicating conditions that are found to exist concomitantly with the subluxation complexes.

4. To administer a regime of care and the response thereto which includes appropriate monitoring of the body’s physiology.

B. Monitoring the effectiveness of chiropractic care.

1. to monitor changes in the patient’s condition and to determine whether or not chiropractic care is answering the needs of the patient.

2. To ascertain whether or not a significant reduction in previously detected abnormal conditions is occurring.

C. Provide the patient counseling and a prognosis for the future.

The ICA is committed to the concept that the chiropractic profession is a specialty field in the health care delivery system and that its primary focus and expertise in diagnosis related to the functional alignment of the osseous structures of the human body, particularly the spine, to determine the relationship of these structures with the nervous system and how this relationship affects the restoration and preservations of health. (ICA policy)

Publications, Drugless Healing

Resolved, that all tracts and brochures published by the ACA cease bearing statements that chiropractic is a drugless profession. (Ratified by the House of Delegates, July 1974.) (ACA policy)

Practice of Chiropractic

The International Chiropractors Association holds that the best interest of both the public and the chiropractic profession are served by maintaining chiropractic as a separate and distinct, drugless, non-surgical alternative form of health care, and, as such, does not include in its practice any form of allopathic or homeopathic pharmaceutical prescription or surgery. (ICA practice of chiropractic)

Scope of Chiropractic Practice

Since the practice of chiropractic is regulated in all states, Puerto Rico, nine provinces in Canada, and a number of foreign countries, the present scope of practice is necessarily determined locally by existing statutory enactment and judicial determination in the separate jurisdictions. (ACA Master Plan, ratified by the House of Delegates, June 1964, amended, June 1975.) (ACA policy)

Practice of Chiropractic

While respecting individual and states rights, the International Chiropractors Association holds that it is in the best interest of the chiropractic profession and the public to advocate and promote a standardized and consistent scope of practice worldwide. (ICA practice of chiropractic)

Standards of Practice, Mercy Center Conference Guidelines

The ACA House of Delegates endorses the process culminating in the formulation of the guidelines contained in the preliminary draft copy of the document "Guidelines for Chiropractic Quality Assurance and Standards of Practice," (Mercy Center Conference Guidelines) noting that the standard setting process is perpetual in function. The House of Delegates endorses the draft guidelines, subject to the qualifications expressed below, and acknowledges the guidelines to be dynamic, changeable and revisable as the profession, research and practice of chiropractic grows in knowledge and develops in the future. (ACA policy)

Mercy Center Conference Guidelines

The International Chiropractors Association, through its Board of Directors, expresses concern regarding the publication and distribution of the document produced by the Mercy Center Conference and does not accept, endorse, approve or otherwise sanction the Document produced by the Mercy Center Conference.


The chiropractic use of the term "subluxation," in reporting, is usually valid as an objective descriptor, but is not acceptable as a diagnostic term, unless demonstrable as a scientifically acceptable and classified entity. The ACA recognizes and supports the consensus statement regarding subluxation approved and adopted by the profession at the House Conference of 1972. (Board approved, July 1975.) (ACA policy)

Subluxations as an Acceptable Primary Diagnosis

Subluxation is a responsible and credible diagnosis for the doctor of chiropractic and this condition should be recognized and reimbursed as a primary diagnosis by all third-party payment organizations, both public and private.

The analytical / diagnostic determination of a subluxations indicated the need for chiropractic care. (ICA Policy)


Resolved, that the ACA recognize and advise the public that: Vaccination has been shown to be a cost effective and clinically practical public health preventive procedure for certain viral and microbial diseases, as demonstrated by the scientific community; however, the ACA and the scientific community acknowledge that the use of vaccines is not without risk. The association supports each individual's right to freedom of choice in his/her own health care based on an informed awareness of the benefits and possible adverse effects of vaccination.

The ACA is supportive of a conscience clause or waiver in compulsory vaccination laws thereby maintaining an individual's right to freedom of choice in health care matters and providing an alternative/elective course of action regarding vaccination. (Ratified by the House of Delegates, July 1993.) (ACA policy)

Immunization and Vaccination

The International Chiropractors Association recognizes that the use of vaccines is not without risk.

The ICA supports each individual’s right to select his or her own health care and to be made aware of the possible adverse effects of vaccines upon a human body. In accordance with such principles and based upon the individual’s right to freedom of choice, the ICA is opposed to compulsory programs which infringe upon such rights. The international Chiropractors Association is supportive of a conscience clause or waiver in compulsory vaccination laws, providing an elective course of action for all regarding immunization, thereby allowing patients freedom of choice in matters affecting their bodies and health. (ICA policy)

X-Ray: Chiropractic Objectives

It is recognized that roentgen rays are used by the health sciences for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. The chiropractic profession utilizes x-ray only for diagnostic purposes and considers their use as one of the major diagnostic tools.

The ACA Commission on Insurance holds that there are two facets to the responsibility of the chiropractic physician in the use of x-ray:

1. Medical necessity for the radiation exposure to the patient; and

2. Equality of studies consistent with scientific knowledge and acceptability.

(Approved, July 1975.) (ACA policy)

The Use of X-ray in Chiropractic.

The ICA holds that the major clinical concern of the Doctor of Chiropractic, in respect to his or her realm of specialized health care, is the detection, locations, analysis, control, reduction and correction of the vertebral subluxation.

X-ray is a primary diagnostic / analytical tool in the detection of subluxation, in determining segmental mobility / immobility and in ascertaining the reduction and / or correction of subluxation(s) and spinal distortions.

The ICA holds that the use of x-rays by the Doctor of Chiropractic, when clinically indicated, is common practice necessary in diagnosis, analysis, prognostic evaluation and in the evaluation of subluxations locations, correction, reduction and total spinal evaluation. (excerpt, ICA policy)