What is a chiropractor?

May 5, 2020 Uncategorized 0

Many people have a very vague understanding of what chiropractors do. There is a lot of misinformation and bias on the internet which can lead people to not seek chiropractic care when it is a good option for them. So let’s talk about some of the most common questions I get about chiropractors and chiropractic medicine.

Are chiropractors real doctors?

Chiropractors are doctors of chiropractic medicine (DC). They are not medical doctors (MD) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO) which have the typical understanding of “doctors”. Chiropractors fall into similar categories such as dentists (DDS), optometrist (OD), psychologists (PhD or PsyD), and doctors of physical therapy (DPT) which are all doctors but treat only specific systems of the body.

Chiropractors (in the United States) must be licensed by the state they are treating in. Getting licensed means that they must have certain qualifications such as graduating from an accredited college, passing board exams, passing state exams, and other requirements. Each state has its own requirements for a chiropractor to be allowed to practice but even becoming a chiropractor requires 4 years of education beyond your undergraduate degree and passing four national board exams.

How long does it take to become a chiropractor?

Chiropractors must have an undergraduate bachelor’s degree, and specific prerequisite classes that must be passed before starting chiropractic college. Chiropractic school itself usually takes 4 years to complete. Some schools are split into quarters and others into trimesters. It typically takes 12 quarters or 10 trimesters to complete school with a full course load. Chiropractors learn a basic medical education, with special attention to the neuromusculoskeletal system and conservative management for neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Classes include topics of physical examination, anatomy & physiology, spinal anatomy, biochemistry, nutrition, pathology, radiology, palpation, manipulation, physiotherapy, orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, senior health and many others.

What does a chiropractor treat?

Chiropractors are trained mainly to treat neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Some chiropractors do additional training to have more specialized training in nutrition, sports medicine, neurology, radiology, acupuncture and other areas. Chiropractors treat many types of pain caused by injured muscles, ligaments and bones. They also treat some types of neurologic conditions such as “pinched nerves” or radiculopathy.

What does a chiropractor do?

Chiropractors use various forms of conservative treatments. Conservative treatments typically means that there are non-invasive treatments and doesn’t rely on injections or surgical procedures. Chiropractors can diagnose and treat based on their diagnosis.  Tools for diagnosing include performing a history and exam. Chiropractors are typically known for adjustment (joint manipulations) as their primary form of treatment. Although this is the most popular thing chiropractors do, it is not always necessary or indicated for a patient’s condition. Chiropractors also do manual therapies. Manual therapies are typically hands on techniques used to decrease muscle tension, increased blood circulation and decreased swelling. Physiotherapy (exercises and stretches) are also common treatments for conditions that chiropractors treat. These could be things performed in the office or therapies to be performed at home. 

Chiropractors co-manage with other providers to help improve patient outcomes. Chiropractors can refer out for imaging (x-rays, MRI’s, CT scans), get blood tests performed, and refer to primary care physicians, orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, and pain management doctors. 

What can’t chiropractors do?

Chiropractors do not perform surgeries, give injections, or prescribe medications. In most states, chiropractors are limited to treating only neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Chiropractors can’t treat things like the heart, lung, kidney, or gastrointestinal issues.  If we notice that you are having problems in one of these areas we will refer you out to the correct specialty.

Although this is a brief overview of what a chiropractor is, hopefully it gives more insight to what we can offer here at Structural Health. If you ever have more questions, please contact us and we would be happy to show you how we can help you!