While your chiropractor will explain his or her particular philosophy regarding chiropractic's role in preventing pain and maintaining health, formal definitions have also been established.
In the US, the definition is determined by the "Guidelines for Chiropractic Quality Assurance and Practice Parameters" (known as the "Mercy Conference Guidelines") and is as follows:
Any management plan that seeks to prevent disease, prolong life, promote health and enhance the quality of life. A specific regimen is designed to provide for the patient's well-being or for maintaining the optimum state of health.
It is important to recognize that the guidelines state, "preventive/maintenance care is elective; must include periodic reassessment; may include treatment, education and counseling; and generally should be delivered at a frequency of not more than once a month." Still, while the guidelines recommend once a month, many patients elect to have preventive/maintenance care more often and many chiropractors feel this is reasonable and important in promoting wellness.
In Canada, the "Clinical Guidelines for Chiropractic Practice in Canada" (known as the "Glenerin Guidelines") define preventive/maintenance care as:
Elective care given at regular intervals designed to maintain maximum health and promoand promote optimal function. It may incorporate screening procedures designed to identify developing risk problems pertaining to the patient's health status and give advice on same.
In all cases, it is up to the chiropractor and the patient to determine whether or not an individual is a candidate for this type of care.
Mootz, R. and H. Vernon. Best Practices in Clinical Chiropractic. Maryland: Aspen Publishers, 1999. 184-186