What Is a Chiropractor?
A chiropractor is a healthcare professional who specializes in chiropractic medicine which is the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders. Treatment primarily comes in the form of manipulating and adjusting the spine and joints. Chiropractors aim to reduce pain and improve function and movement, approaching problems using a holistic lens. In other words, they focus on the relationship between the structure of the body and the function of the nervous system. Instead of only addressing one part of the body, chiropractors seek to improve the performance of the entire system.
What qualifications does a chiropractor have?
Chiropractors are required to have a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C) degree, which typically takes four years to complete after finishing a bachelor’s degree. D.C. programs include both classroom instruction and clinical experience. The curriculum covers a wide range of subjects including anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and diagnostic imaging. Graduates from the program must pass an exam administered through the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE), as well as a state board exam. If they pass both exams, they are granted a license to practice.
Beyond this initial education, chiropractors are also required to complete ongoing continuing education (CE) courses to maintain their license. The requirements vary from state to state, but Idaho requires 18 hours of CE per year.
Some chiropractors choose to specialize in a certain area of practice, such as sport injuries, pediatrics, or geriatrics, by completing a post-doctoral program.
What Does a Chiropractor Do?
As we go about our day, our spines can become misaligned. Stress from a new job, poor nutrition, or bad posture can all cause our spines to shift out of place. Once this happens, extra pressure is placed on our joints and nerves, causing tension, numbness, and pain. We may compensate in other areas to relieve the pain, further throwing our system out of alignment.
Chiropractors use manual adjustments to realign the spine, which can help relieve pressure on the nerves, reduce pain and inflammation, and improve function and mobility. You may have seen videos of a chiropractor working on a patient, producing a series of loud pops. These pops are the spinal joints separating slightly, releasing gas bubbles that naturally build up between the joints.
What can a chiropractor fix?
Chiropractors primarily focus on treating neuromuscular conditions such as:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Headaches and migraines
- Joint pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Tennis Elbow
These tend to be the most commonly treated conditions, but there is a wide range of issues that can be helped by chiropractic care.
Chiropractic care can also be beneficial in other areas, including:
- Reducing stress
- Improving athletic performance
- Enhancing immunity
- Improving sleep and digestion
Note: While chiropractic care can be helpful for some conditions, it’s not appropriate for every condition. A chiropractor will conduct a thorough examination to determine if chiropractic care is appropriate for your specific situation.
What do chiropractors do on the first visit?
A chiropractor will conduct a thorough examination to assess your condition and determine if chiropractic care is right for you. The first visit to a chiropractor usually includes:
- Discussion of Symptoms – Your chiropractor will want to know all of your symptoms, such as pain, numbness, or weakened mobility.
- Review of Medical History – You will be asked about your past medical history, and any medications you are taking.
- Physical Examination – The chiropractor will examine your spine, joints, and muscles to assess your posture, range of motion, and areas of pain or discomfort. They might also use diagnostic imaging such as X-rays or MRI to get a better understanding of your condition.
- Diagnosis – Based on what they see, your chiropractor may be able to tell you what is causing your condition.
- Development of a Treatment Plan – If the chiropractor determines that chiropractic care is appropriate for you, they will discuss a treatment plan with you. This may include physical adjustments, manual manipulation of the spine, and other techniques to help alleviate pain and improve function and movement. They may also suggest lifestyle changes that can help manage and prevent your condition.
Your first visit may be a bit longer than the following appointments, as the chiropractor needs to gather the necessary information to develop the best treatment plan for you, and allow you to make an informed decision about your care.