Frequently Asked Questions

Naprapathy (also known as naprapathic medicine) is defined as a system of specific examination, diagnostics, manual treatment and rehabilitation of pain and dysfunction in the neuromusculoskeletal system. The therapy is aimed at restoring function through treatment of the connective tissue, muscle- and neural tissues within or surrounding the spine and other joints. Naprapathic treatment consists of combinations of manual techniques for instance joint mobilization, neural mobilization and naprapathic soft tissue techniques, in addition to the manual techniques, certified naprapaths (C.Nap.) use different types of modalities such as electrotherapy, ultrasound, radial shockwave therapy and TENS. The manual techniques are often combined with advice regarding nutrition, physical activity and ergonomics as well as medical rehabilitation training in order to decrease pain and disability and increase work ability and quality of life.

Dr. Oakley Smith was born on January 19th, 1880 to parents named Robert Bankinson Smith, and Ann Beeson Smith on a farm in West Branch, Iowa. He was a strong child until at the age of four years he suffered an attack of scarlet fever which made him weak, pale, skinny, and puny and he remained that way for 16 more years. His Parents took him to doctors from state to state to find something that would improve his health and make him stronger again. He tried different medications, multiple springs of water in different states, and then he was taken to an osteopath and chiropractor and later enrolled into a medical school to find out what was wrong with him. Dr. Smith said if no one else could help him he was going to find out himself what would.
Naprapathy was established in the early 1900s by Dr. Oakley Smith, an osteopathic student and early chiropractor. Dr. Smith was one in a handful of early chiropractors to study under Dr. Daniel David Palmer (D.D. Palmer), considered to be the founder of modern Chiropractic. In time, Dr. Smith developed his own theories on Palmer’s concepts of vertebral subluxation, one which focused more on healing and repairing connective tissue. In the fall of 1899, he was 19 years of age at that time; he enrolled as a special student at the Medical School, University of Iowa. There he took classes in anatomy, physiology and dissection. He also witnessed two to three hundred surgical operations during his two years stay at the university. Oakley talked his engineering student brother Horton, into doing some manual manipulation on him that Dr. Smith developed himself. Oakley would give Horton specific direction and input to as the treatment and how it felt. Horton gave Oakley treatments everyday five days a week for the two years of Oakley’s medical school training. Within two or three months his paleness began to subside, and then the cold hands and feet began to warm. His vitality increased and before you know it he was getting cured. By the time Horton finished his degree in engineering Oakley was able to work all day and way into the night. Oakley states, “I was a recipient of a miracle.” This with a little forming of the method of treating Dr. Oakley Smith had branded a new Health Profession. He quit medical school in 1901 and moved to Chicago, Illinois where he started to treat patients in a clinic for free. Then many of his patients wanted to be taught by him and eventually he opened a school. He named the school, ”Chicago College of Naprapathy.”
He invented the charting of a recording of what your fingers felt when taking an examination and giving a treatment. It was called “Chartology”. He had letters of Patents from the U.S. Government; this was a breakthrough in the science of manual diagnosis and treatment of disease. Prior to his invention no healing profession had any method for recording what their fingers felt. On November 16th, 1905 at 11:45 p.m. Dr. Smith discovered through extensive anatomical research, that fibrous, or dense connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, and muscles) when damaged or over-used, led to a rigid, scar-like condition in the body that often interfered and aggravated closely aligned nerves. Thus the discovery of the “Ligatite” which constituted the beginning point of the “Profession of Naprapathy.”
In 1907, after devising a system of treatment for evaluating and healing damaged connective tissue, Dr. Smith founded the science of Naprapathy. Dr. Smith was an avid traveler. He liked learning about other cultures and health care practices around the world. While traveling in Bohemia, he learned about an old healing practice called the “Napravit Thrust”. Dr. Smith observed the practice of “Napravit me”. A person would lie on the ground after a long days work in the field and the other fellow worker would work up the spine with gentle pushes. Dr Smith found it to be similar but different to the technique he had been developing in United States, a gentle manipulation of constricted joints to loosen and relax. But it gave him the idea for naming it “Naprapath”.
In the Bohemian language, napravit means “to correct, or fix.” Dr. Smith took “napra” from napravit (to correct the cause) and added the Greek word pathos (suffering, or pain) to coin the name naprapathy, to correct suffering or pain.

The concept of connective tissue and its effects on joints, nerves and muscles consists of interaction between the different structures within the neuromusculoskeletal system. This interaction is important for optimal function. Shortened and changed connective tissue within the neuromusculoskeletal system, especially around the spine and other joints, are believed to be one of the primary causes of pain and disability. This was initially based on Smiths early research findings of what he named a “ligatite” which is described as a scar tissue in the ligaments adjacent to the vertebral column. That pathology in the connective tissue was, according to Smith, likely to be the main reason for restricted motion of a vertebral unit or a peripheral joint.
To be able to manually diagnose, understand, treat and rehabilitate a patient with pain, it is of great importance to consider not only the structures and functions involved in causing the patients symptoms. The environment, physical as well as psychological and psychosocial, in which the patient work and live could also be affecting and interfering with work ability and quality of life of that patient. It is from this perspective that naprapathy looks at pain and disability from the neuromusculoskeletal system. Therefore naprapaths treat each patient from his or her individual capability in the purpose of restoring balance and function to the neuromusculoskeletal system in order to obtain an optimal healing process. The effect of naprapathic manual treatment has recently been evaluated in a large RCT, showing that naprapathy is an effective treatment for non-specific back and neck pain (Skillgate et al Clinical J of Pain, 2007, 23, 431-9).

Since 1907, naprapathy has grown and developed and today it constitutes one of the leading professions within the field of manual medicine in the United States, Sweden, Spain as well as Norway, Finland & Canada. There are schools of naprapathy in Sweden, Spain, the United States and Finland. Soon a Spanish language naprapathy program will be available in Panama through National University of Medical Sciences. The naprapathy education consists of a four year full time program leading to a doctor of naprapathy (DN) title. Naprapathy is practiced in Canada, Sweden, United States, Finland, Norway and in some other countries.

Certified naprapaths (C.Nap.) treat connective tissue disorders by using manual medicine, gentle, hands-on manual therapy, nutritional counseling, dietary changes, supplements, therapeutic modalities such as ultrasound, electro-stimulation, and low-level laser therapy as well as prescribing therapeutic exercises.

Some of the common connective tissue disorders that been successfully treated by certified naprapaths include: carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, knee strains, low back pain, neck pain, pain in the extremities, sciatica, shoulder Pain, tennis elbow, and jaw pain.

The title “Dr” cannot be used in Canada by certified naprapaths. However they can use “doctor of naprapathy” under their names, but cannot put “Dr” before their names. Doctor of naprapathy is their program name so they can use it. “Dr” is a title given to doctors who are MD, DDS, PhD, OD, & DC in Canada and certified naprapaths cannot use it. However one of the projects of the Canadian Naprapathic Association is to lobby the Canadian government to ensure doctors of naprapathy could use the title of “DR” in Canada.

What is the Difference Between DN and C.Nap.?
DN (doctor of naprapathy) is issued by a university and you should use it after your name when you graduate. C.Nap. (certified naprapath) is a designation issued to you by the Canadian Naprapathic Association when it accepts you as member. And you can use that also after your name. The proper way to use both title is:
John Smith, DN, C.Nap.
Doctor of naprapathy
Certified naprapath
The DN educational title is not copy righted and different universities issue the title. The C.Nap. is copyrighted by the Canadian Naprapathic Association and only CAN has the authority to issue this designation to members who satisfy its membership requirements.

The average income of doctors of naprapathy in the United States is US$89,899 (about $120,496 Canadian dollars) in 2016. The average hourly rate is US$43 ($57 Canadian) when hired as an employee. The entry level salary per year is $68,190 ($91,398 Canadian dollars). The senior level salary is $117,951 ($158,095 Canadian dollars). There is no data available on Canadian doctors of naprapathy. However the Canadian Naprapathic Association would survey certified naprapaths in the coming years.

In Canada, naprapathy is not a regulated health profession as defined by the Regulated Health Profession Act of Canada. One of the mandates of the Canadian Naprapathic Association is to seek regulation for naprapathy in the province of Ontario. In the United States naprapathic medicine is regulated in two States. Since 1994 the Naprapathic profession is regulated in Sweden and is a part of the Swedish health and medical care system, by the license from the National Board of Health and Welfare, for treating patient with pain and disability from the neuromusculoskeletal system. Over one third of the Swedish population has received naprapathic treatment. Each year over 1.5 million naprapathic treatments are performed in Sweden. Most of the patients that receive naprapathic treatment do so for low back pain, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, sciatica or other radicular symptoms as well as athletic injuries.

There is a provincial association, Osteopathy & Naprapathy Association of Newfoundland & Labrador that certified naprapath & manual osteopath, Dr. Matt Gibbons, a graduate of National University of Medical Sciences (Spain) is its president. The Canadian Naprapathic Association is the first and only national naprapathic association in Canada.

The American Naprapathic Association (ANA), founded in 1907, the year naprapathy was formed, is the first and oldest naprapathic association in the world. Its president is Dr. Shante Griggs, a great leader in the naprapathy field who also serves as a naprapathy college president. Many of the certified naprapaths in Canada are members of the American Naprapathic Association as well.