It is estimated that about 27 million Americans visit a doctors of chiropractic each year, and millions more receive chiropractic care throughout the rest of the world. Chiropractic is the third largest primary health care field (after medicine and dentistry).
Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts which is based upon the understanding that good health depends, in part, upon a normally functioning nervous system (especially the spine, and the nerves extending from the spine to all parts of the body).
"Chiropractic" comes from the Greek word Chiropraktikos, meaning "effective treatment by hand." Chiropractic stresses the idea that the cause of many disease processes begins with the body's inability to adapt to its environment.
It looks to address these diseases not by the use of drugs and chemicals, but by locating and adjusting a musculoskeletal area of the body which is functioning improperly.
The conditions which doctors of chiropractic address are as varied and as vast as the nervous system itself.
We use a standard procedure of examination to diagnose a patient's condition and arrive at a course of treatment. Chiropractors use the same time-honored methods of consultation, case history, physical examination, laboratory analysis and x-ray examination as any other doctor. In addition, they provide a careful chiropractic structural examination, paying particular attention to the spine.
The examination of the spine to evaluate structure and function is what makes chiropractic different from other health care procedures. Your spinal column is a series of movable bones which begin at the base of your skull and end in the center of your hips. Thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves extend down the spine from the brain and exit through a series of openings. The nerves leave the spine and form a complicated network which influences every living tissue in your body.
Accidents, falls, stress, tension, overexertion, and countless other factors can result in a displacements or derangements of the spinal column, causing irritation to spinal nerve roots. These irritations are often what cause malfunctions in the human body. Chiropractic teaches that reducing or eliminating this irritation to spinal nerves can cause your body to operate more efficiently and more comfortably.
We also places an emphasis on nutritional and exercise programs, wellness and lifestyle modifications for promoting physical and mental health. While chiropractors make no use of drugs or surgery, Doctors of chiropractic do refer patients for medical care when those interventions are indicated. In fact, chiropractors, medical doctors, physical therapists and other health care professionals now work as partners in occupational health, sports medicine, and a wide variety of other rehabilitation
The educational requirements for chiropractors are similar to that of medical doctors. In general, chiropractors must complete four years of undergraduate study from one of the nation's 17 accredited chiropractic colleges. During the first two years of study, students receive classroom and laboratory work in anatomy, physiology, public health, microbiology, pathology, and biochemistry. The final two years involve courses in manipulation and spinal adjustments, as well as clinical experience in areas that may include physical and laboratory diagnosis, neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics, physiotherapy, and nutrition, biomechanics, radiology, and natural medicine.
Undergraduate study is followed by a one-year internship at a college clinic. Many chiropractic colleges rotate interns through hospital rounds with medical students. Many chiropractors also undertake four to five additional years of advanced or post-graduate study in a clinical area.
After obtaining their Doctor of Chiropractic degree, chiropractors must complete at least two board exams - the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exam and the board exam from the state in which they practice.
All 50 states license Doctors of Chiropractic to practice. All chiropractors must meet certain requirements, including:
- Completion of a four- or five-year chiropractic college course of study at an accredited program leading to the Doctor of Chiropractic degree.
- Satisfactory completion of board exams.
- Ongoing continuing education courses or programs offered by accredited chiropractic programs and institutions, as well as chiropractic associations.
Chiropractors also are able to obtain certification in such areas as orthopedics, neurology, sports injuries, occupational and industrial health, nutrition, diagnostic imaging, thermography, spinal rehabilitation, and internal disorders.