What is Chiropractic?

Like many complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) disciplines, chiropractic focuses on more than just an illness or injury. Chiropractors are interested in treating the whole person. While chiropractic care focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the muscles, bones, and joints, with a special emphasis on the spine, it can also include exercise, nutrition and health, and lifestyle counseling. Chiropractic treatments often include spinal manipulation or adjustments and other joint and soft tissue manipulation techniques.

What education does a Doctor of Chiropractic receive?
Chiropractors, like other primary health care providers, spend a significant portion of their training studying clinical subjects related to evaluating and caring for patients. This extensive education prepares doctors of chiropractic to diagnose and treat health care problems and to refer patients to other health care providers when appropriate. There are 18 accredited chiropractic colleges in the US recognized by the US Secretary of Education.

What kind of license does a Doctor of Chiropractic have and what do they have to do to maintain it?
Like medical doctors and other health care providers, chiropractors are licensed and regulated by regulatory boards in each state. In order to protect the public safely, these boards ensure that providers meet stringent criteria.

To be eligible to receive a license, Doctors of Chiropractic (DC) must have at least two years in an undergraduate program. Many states are requiring candidates to have a bachelor’s degree to qualify for licensure. Chiropractors must also have graduated from an accredited chiropractic college and have passed rigorous examinations offered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

Finally, those applying for licensure must past background checks to insure proper credentials and must demonstrate knowledge of the state laws governing their practice.

What kinds of conditions can a Doctor of Chiropractic treat?
Chiropractic treatment is most often associated with problems in the back and neck. Trouble here can cause pain, numbness, and weakness almost anywhere else in the body: in the arms and hands, legs and feet, and can cause headaches, and other disorders. Some patients seek relief from DCs for muscle and joint sprains and strains, athletic and job injuries, and trauma from car crashes such as whiplash.

What can I expect at my first visit?
The first visit with your Doctor of Chiropractic is much like an initial visit with your family doctor. First, a thorough medical history will be taken to determine the state of your health. After taking a complete history, your DC will use a variety of hands-on neurologic, orthopedic, and specialized chiropractic tests to identify problems that may require treatment. These are physical maneuvers and other examinations that assess the function of joints, muscles and nerves throughout the body such as palpation, range of motion, strength, sensation, and reflexes.

The purpose of this initial exam is to determine first of all that there is no serious disease, such as infection or cancer, that may require referral to another medical specialty. DCs are also trained to find other problems (arthritis, for example) that may complicate recovery.

What conditions does a Doctor of Chiropractic treat?
While many people first see a Doctor of Chiropractic because of back or other pain, DCs can treat a wide variety of conditions. These conditions can include:

  • Auto Accidents / Whiplash Injuries
  • "Slipped" Disc
  • Pinched Nerve
  • Back Pain-Upper/Neck
  • Back Pain-Lower
  • Sciatica
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofasciitis
  • Stress
  • Scoliosis
  • Wellness
  • Asthma
  • Pregnancy
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Rotator Cuff Syndrome
  • Patellar Tendonosis
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Bursitis
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Hypertension

Where can I learn more about chiropractic?
We've included links to useful information below:

www.cce-usa.org - Information about chiropractic education
www.acatoday.org - The American Chiropractic Association
nccam.nih.gov - National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a division of the National Institutes of Health