- complete three to four years of undergraduate, pre-medical education
- complete a four-year Doctor of Chiropractic graduate program
- pass national and state licensing exams
The chiropractic profession dates back to the late 1800s. It began as a study of the spine’s structure spine and the practice of manipulating the body with the hands. Today, many chiropractors combine spinal adjustments with other treatments. These treatments may include rehabilitation exercises and diet recommendations.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), interest in the occupation continues to grow. The chiropractic profession is expected to grow by 28 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is higher than the average for all professions (DOL).
Chiropractors aim to help relieve patients’ pain and improve range of motion in specific areas of the body such as the back and neck. Chiropractors use many tests to help make a diagnosis and tailor a treatment plan.
A chiropractor is a healthcare provider who is specially trained to treat patients with conditions affecting their bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons. They believe in using natural methods—without drugs or surgery—to care for patients.
Chiropractors use spinal manipulation and other techniques to improve problems with the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Many work independently, rather than for a medical organization. They also may work alone or with a group of providers.
It takes seven to eight years of education and training to become a chiropractor.
After completing high school study, you must take the following steps:
This time investment can pay off. The DOL reports that in 2010, the median annual salary for a chiropractor was $67,200 (DOL).
Chiropractic doctors use a number of tests to help them reach a diagnosis. After learning about your medical history, they may order imaging tests such as X-rays to evaluate your neck and spine.
They’ll test your muscle strength and instruct you to move into different positions to examine your posture. They might also examine your spine and other parts of your body for structural abnormalities, such as scoliosis (spinal curvature).
Chiropractors might test your range of motion in certain joints. This helps them determine how well you can move or turn parts of your body, such as your neck or back.
According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), chiropractic doctors use a hands-on approach in examining, diagnosing, and treating patients (ACA).
The purpose of chiropractic treatments is to improve certain health conditions, including back and neck pain and headaches. The treatment methods may also be used to address injuries of the muscles, ligaments, and joints.
The following are common forms of chiropractic treatment:
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), adjusting or manipulating the spine is the chiropractor’s principal treatment method. These adjustments often involve using a thrusting or twisting motion to move the spine into alignment.
In one type of thrust adjustment, you lie face down on a special table that is angled downward. The doctor pushes against your spine. In another type of thrust, you lie with your upper body twisted in the opposite direction of your pelvis. The doctor applies short, fast strikes to your spine.
This treatment works to improve the mobility of your neck joints. The doctor uses precise movements and strokes to manipulate the joints of your neck. This helps reduce pressure and tension on your muscles.
Chiropractors can also give advice on general health issues. For example, they can recommend diet and lifestyle changes and discuss your physical fitness routine.