Chiropractic Definitions

The following definition of chiropractic was approved by the National Board in June 2016.

Definition of Chiropractic

The Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAA) National supports the Definition of Chiropractic as described by the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) in 2001 - A health profession concerned with the diagnosis, management and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health. (Primary Reference - WFC Dictionary Definition World Federation of Chiropractic, 2001).

Read the full Position Statement on Patient Care, Clinical and Professional Chiropractic Education


The following definitions were endorsed by the CAA National Board and the Presidents of the State Associations in May 2012.

Definition of Adjustment

A procedure used by chiropractors that utilises controlled force, leverage, direction, amplitude and velocity, which is applied to specific joints and adjacent tissues.  Chiropractors commonly use such procedures to influence joint and neurophysiological function.

Definition of Vitalism

A recognition and respect for the inherent self-regulating and self-healing abilities of every individual.

Definition of Subluxation

A lesion or dysfunction in a joint or motion segment in which alignment, movement integrity and/or physiological function are altered, although contact between joint surfaces remains intact. It is essentially a functional entity, which influences biomechanical and neural integrity.

  (1)   This definition is different from the current medical definition, in which subluxation is a significant structural displacement, and therefore visible on static imaging studies.

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The WHO definition
World Health Organization, Guidelines on Chiropractic, 2005