Manual medicine, also known as chirotherapy (from Ancient Greek χείρ cheir, "hand"), is a branch of medicine concerned with disorders of the human musculoskeletal system, and most commonly with back pain. It is partly based on the wider field of chiropractic and osteopathy, but is distinguished from these fields by being part of rational-critical scientific medicine and practised only by licensed physicians or physiotherapists. It is a non-invasive treatment regarded as complementary to other forms of treatment.
In Germany chirotherapy is an accepted and integral part of mainstream scientific medicine, as opposed to alternative medicine practised by non-physicians (or non-physiotherapists), and physicians or physiotherapists who practice manual medicine/chirotherapy are licensed by the state medical chambers. Chirotherapy as practised in Germany was established in the 1950s mainly by the orthopedic surgeon Karl Sell, partly based on his experience as a military surgeon and on established practices within chiropractic and osteopathy. Sell established a school of manual medicine in Neutrauchburg near Isny in 1953. In 1976 the general conference of the German Medical Association adopted "Arzt für Chirotherapie" (abbreviated "Chirotherapie") as a recognised designation for someone who had received recognised training in chirotherapy, and in 1979 "Arzt für Chirotherapie" became a legally protected designation. The German Society for Manual Medicine has 4,500 physicians as members (as of 2008), and training in manual medicine is offered by three legally recognised institutions, the Berlin Medical Society for Manual Medicine (Berliner Ärzteverein für Manuelle Medizin), the Hamm-Boppard Medical Seminary (Ärzteseminar Hamm-Boppard) and the Karl Sell Medical Seminary (Ärtzteseminar Dr. Karl Sell) in Neutrauchburg.
- H.-P. Bischoff, H. Moll: Kurz gefasstes Lehrbuch der Manuellen Medizin. 5th ed., 2007, Spitta-Verlag, Balingen, ISBN 978-3-938509-12-8.
- Gerhard Marx, "Manuelle Medizin," in Rainer Brenke (ed.), Naturheilverfahren: Leitfaden für die ärztliche Aus-, Fort- und Weiterbildung; mit 106 Tabellen, Schattauer Verlag, 2008, pp. 362ff.
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