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Chiropractor profession

Alternative Names

Doctor of Chiropractic (DC)

Information

Chiropractic care (which comes from the Greek word meaning "done by hand") dates back to 1895. However, the roots of the profession can be traced all the way back to the beginning of recorded time.

Chiropractic was developed by Daniel David Palmer, a self-taught healer in Davenport, Iowa. Palmer wanted to find a cure for disease and illness that did not use drugs. He studied the structure of the spine and the ancient art of moving the body with the hands (manipulation). Palmer started the Palmer School of Chiropractic, which still exists today.

Education

Doctors of chiropractic must complete 4 to 5 years at an accredited chiropractic college. Their training includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory, and clinical experience.

The education provides students with an in-depth understanding of the structure and function of the human body in health and disease.

The educational program includes training in the basic medical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry. The education allows a doctor of chiropractic to both diagnose and treat patients.

Chiropractic Philosophy

The profession believes in using natural and conservative methods of health care, without the use of drugs or surgery.

Practice

Chiropractors treat people with muscle and bone problems, such as neck pain, low back pain, osteoarthritis, and spinal disk conditions.

Today, most practicing chiropractors mix spinal adjustments with other therapies, such as physical rehabilitation and exercise recommendations, mechanical or electrical therapies, and hot or cold treatments.

Chiropractors take a medical history in the same way as other health care providers. They then examine patients, looking at:

  • Muscle strength versus weakness
  • Posture in different positions
  • Spinal range of motion
  • Structural problems

They also use the standard set of nervous system and orthopedic tests common to all medical professions.

REGULATION OF THE PROFESSION

Chiropractors are regulated at two different levels:

  • Board certification is conducted by the National Board of Chiropractor Examiners, which creates national standards for chiropractic care.
  • Licensure takes place at the state level under specific state laws. Licensing and the scope of practice may differ from state to state. Most states require that chiropractors complete the National Chiropractic Board examination before they get their license. Some states also require chiropractors to pass a practical examination. All states recognize training from chiropractic schools accredited by the Council of Chiropractic Education (CCE).

Most states require that chiropractors complete a certain number of continuing education hours every year to keep their license.

Updated: 2/7/2012

Christopher J. Fox, DC, ATC, Specializing in family care and sports injuries at FOX Spine + Sports Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


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