WHAT IS CHIROPRACTIC?
Chiropractic is a healthcare profession that cares for a patient's neuromusculoskeletal system — the bones, nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. A chiropractor helps manage back and neck pain through the use of spinal adjustments and various therapies to maintain good alignment.
The chiropractic adjustment is a procedure in which trained physician specialists (chiropractors) use their hands or a small instrument to apply a controlled, sudden force to a spinal joint. The goal of this procedure, also known as spinal manipulation, is to improve spinal motion and improve your body's physical function.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CHIROPRACTIC CARE?
Improves neck pain
Reduces reliance on opioid pain relievers
Eases back pain
Possible reduction of osteoarthritis symptoms
Eases headache symptoms
More affordable treatment for chronic back pain
Very high satisfaction amongst patients
Reduces scoliosis symptoms
Chiropractic is a licensed health care profession that emphasizes the body’s ability to heal itself. Treatment typically involves manual therapy, often including spinal adjustments. Other forms of treatment, such as therapies, exercise and nutritional counseling, may be used as well.
WHAT CHIROPRACTORS DO
Chiropractors approach patient care in a manner similar to that used in conventional medicine. They interview the patient, obtain a detailed health history, perform an examination, do tests, and develop a working diagnosis. They then develop a management plan, start treatment, and monitor the patient’s progress. Chiropractors often treat problems related to the musculoskeletal system.
The manual treatment methods used by chiropractors range from stretching and sustained pressure to specific joint adjusting, which is either delivered by hand and involve a quick and gentle thrust or by using an instrument to precisely realign the structure over a course of treatments. The purpose of the adjustment is to improve joint motion and function. Adjustments are most commonly done on the spine, but other parts of the body may also be treated in this way.
EDUCATION AND LICENSURE OF PRACTITIONERS
To practice in the United States, chiropractors must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree, pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam, and have a state license. Many states also require chiropractors to pass an exam about state-specific laws, and all states require practicing chiropractors to take continuing education classes.
To enroll in a D.C. program in the United States, which typically takes 4 years to complete, students must have had at least 3 years of undergraduate education.
Institutions that award the D.C. degree are accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education, which is recognized as an accrediting agency by the U.S. Secretary of Education. In 2017, there were 15 accredited D.C. programs on 18 campuses.
Chiropractic education includes classes in basic sciences, such as anatomy and physiology, and supervised clinical experience in which students learn skills such as spinal assessment, adjustment techniques, and making diagnoses.
Some chiropractors complete postgraduate education in specialized fields, such as orthopedics or pediatrics.
The scope of chiropractors’ practice (that is, the types of services they are allowed to provide) varies from state to state. Health insurance plans may cover chiropractic, but coverage may be partial rather than complete.