Naprapathy (nuh-prah’-pa-thee) is a branch of manual medicine that evolved with the early development of chiropractic around the turn of the 20th century. Practitioners focus on the evaluation and treatment of neuro-musculoskeletal conditions, in particular as they relate to connective tissues such as ligaments, tendons and discs. Naprapaths seek to resolve pain and functional disability by applying hands-on soft and connective tissue manipulations (SCTM) using techniques such as spinal manipulation and mobilization, stretching and massage to stretch the definite strands of shrunken soft and connective tissues experienced by the patient.
The founder of naprapathic medicine, Oakley Smith, was an associate of Dr. D.D. Palmer who founded chiropractic healthcare in the late 1890’s. They practiced together in Davenport, Iowa until Smith broke from Palmer to pursue a different style and method of treatment. Smith preferred manipulation of the soft and connective tissue (ligaments, tendons and fascia) as a means to re-align vertebral structures and thus to promote optimal blood, nerve and lymph flow throughout the body. The Chiropractic method as advanced by Palmer used high velocity adjustments on the bony structure to attain the same results.In 1906, Smith opened the National College of Naprapathic Medicine in Chicago, IL, where it remains in operation today, its scope of practice established by the Illinois Naprapathic Practice Act. In 2006, the Southwest University of Naprapathic Medicine (SUNM) was founded in Santa Fe, NM by Patrick Nuzzo, DN. Instruction began in 2010. SUNM is a licensed educational institution in good standing with the New Mexico Higher Education Department.
Naprapathic doctors (DNs) are licensed in New Mexico and Illinois in the United States. It is anticipated that the discipline will expand in the near future. Naprapathic medicine has spread significantly in Scandinavia, where Sweden, Finland and Norway all main doctoral schools of Naprapathic Medicine.
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Examples of Use
We Treat Stress, Aches & Pain without Drugs
Treating Connective Tissue Conditions
Connective tissue is found throughout the human body in structures such as ligaments, tendons, fascia, cartilage, and discs.
This complex network can become unbalanced over time due to many conditions and circumstances: stress,
poor sleeping position
absence of ergonomics
Imbalance can also arise from sudden trauma: motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries and work-related injuries.
As a consequence, stress on connective tissues can cause a loosening or contraction to an extent that pain and discomfort can result. If not treated, these conditions can lead to other conditions of ill health.
Naprapaths diagnose through anatomical and topographical evaluations, standard orthopedic and neurological examinations, as well as muscle and range of motion testing. Treatment consists of hands-on manipulation of the vertebrae and stretching contracted tissue that could irritate blood and nervous system structures that exit the spinal column.
carpal tunnel syndrome
headaches and migraines
upper and lower back pain
stress and work-related tension
arm and shoulder pain
Naprapathic doctoral degrees are conferred in the United States by two institutions: Southwest University of Naprapathic Medicine in Santa Fe, NM and the National College of Naprapathic Medicine in Chicago,
Example: DOCTORAL PROGRAM
Southwest University of Naprapathic Medicine
Students entering the Naprapathic Medicine Doctoral Program of Study at Southwestern University of Naprapathic Medicine must possess a Bachelor’s degree. While the SUNM Program of Study is a four-year program, it is structured to be taught at an accelerated pace in three years.
The program provides for 69 credit hours in the Basic Sciences and 57 credit hours in the Naprapathic Sciences, for a total of 126 credit hours in academic work. Clinical experience provides for 64 credit hours required for graduation, which involves 450 clock hours interning in the clinic under a licensed Doctor of Naprapathic Medicine (DN), and an additional 190 hours of Clinical Seminars and Practice classes. The Independent Research Project requires 35 credit hours. This program, which includes lectures and hands-on lab, provides instruction essential to success in the occupation.
The program at SUNM consists of the following concentrations:
Basic Sciences: 72 – 69 credit hours
Specialized Naprapathic Sciences: 54 – 57 credit hours
Naprapathic Medicine Clinical Experiences: 64 credit hours to include:
Integrational Clinic Seminars 40 Clock Hours
Clinical Practice 150 Clock Hours
Clinical Internship 450 Clock Hours
Independent Research Project: 35 Credit Hours
Basic Sciences Curriculum
As Naprapathy is a specialized healthcare discipline, advanced science courses provide a sound educational foundation for study. This program includes Anatomy, Neuroscience, Kinesiology, Physiology, Histology, Pathology, Biochemistry and Nutrition. Instruction focuses on understanding the structure and the functions of the organs and bodily dysfunctions and the ways that these dysfunctions can be manifested. Homeostasis is emphasized throughout the study of the human body. Science and Naprapathic clinical courses are designed to complement one another, as the curriculum strives to integrate both approaches to learning.
Most of the research being done on naprapathic medicine is originates in Scandinavia, where the discipline is far more prevalent than it is in North America. As noted in the list above of conditions for which naprapathy has shown good outcomes, the discipline’s soft and connective tissue manipulations (SCTM) approach has shown success levels that are equivalent to outcomes on research reported on other manipulative modalities like chiropractic and acupuncture.
See the “References” section below for access to research studies from the Clinical Journal of Pain reporting on back and neck pain trials and in a comparison with conventional orthopedic treatment of certain conditions.
Naprapathic care is a covered service by many insurance programs in the states where practitioners are licensed (New Mexico and Illinois). Along with all other state-licensed health care practitioners, Doctors of Naprapathy should be included in the non-discrimination provisions of Section 2706 of the Affordable Care Act.
References for Naprapathy
Schools of Naprapathic Medicine
National Association of Naprapathic Medicine.
2006 Botulph Road. Santa Fe, NM 87505
Contact: Josh Pieper at J.K.Peiper@gmail.com
Naprapathic Manual Therapy or Evidence-based Care for Back and Neck Pain
From the “Clinical Journal of Pain,” 2007
Naprapathic Manual Therapy or Conventional Orthopedic Care for Outpatients on Orthopedic Waitings Lists?
From the “Clinical Journal of Pain,” 2010