Several alternative treatment methods use the manipulation of the body (massotherapy, reflex therapy, chiropractic, osteopathy, acupuncture, etc.) or its movement (Qigong, tai chi, yoga, etc.).
Founded in Canada in 1895, chiropractic consists of manipulating the spinal column and joints to rectify vertebrae alignment. According to the principles of chiropractic, all of the functions of the body are controlled by the central nervous system. Consequently, any pressure exerted on a nerve of the spinal column would interfere with the functioning of a body part and result in a health problem. During the first consultation, chiropractors establish their diagnosis by observing the posture and movements of the patient. They examine the spinal column and the mobility of its joints. The treatment consists of different manipulations of the limbs and back. Chiropractic has achieved a certain success in treating dorsal pain and migraines, but its effectiveness remains to be seen for other health problems.
Osteopathy, which appeared at the end of the 19th century in the United States, uses the manipulation of the body in the form of pressure or movements to prevent and heal numerous health problems. The foundation of this therapeutic method is based on the intimate relationship that connects the musculoskeletal system and the other systems and organs of the body. All muscle, joint or skeletal problems result in local tension, discernible by touch, and cause functional problems. Osteopaths examine their patients and look for muscle tension, asymmetry in different postures, or changes in skin temperature. The treatment then consists of pressure and movements of varying speed, conducted on the joints. The effectiveness of osteopathy is mainly recognized in the treatment of dorsal pain and exogenous joint problems (sprain, tendinitis).
Practiced for thousand of years in China, acupuncture developed in the West mainly during the 1970s. In the Chinese medical tradition, the body is composed of material and energy that circulates in the body following well-defined paths, called meridians. Disease is the imbalance in the circulation of energy that may be reestablished by the application of needles in precise points, sometimes completed by applying heat or suction cups. Acupuncturists observe their patients and, without causing any pain, insert a series of needles of which the position varies depending on the diagnosis. Even though the principles on which acupuncture rests are difficult to quantify, studies show a certain effectiveness in treating pain (back pain, headache) and nausea.