Chiropractors diagnose and treat issues with the spine, nerves, muscles and other elements of the neuromusculoskeletal system. They use manual spinal adjustments, manipulation, massage and other treatments to address pain, headaches and other health problems.
They also advise patients on lifestyle changes, including specific exercises and diet, for both treatment and prevention purposes.
Duties and responsibilities
- Review patient's medical history
- Perform examinations and ask diagnostic questions to assess patient's condition
- Conduct a range of motion, reflexes, posture and other orthopaedic and neurological tests
- Order and interpret diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, when necessary
- Perform manual adjustments to the spine and joints to improve alignment
- Use other treatments such as heat application or massage to alleviate patient's pain and discomfort
- Apply tape, bandages, braces or other support devices, and advise patients on proper use
- Advise patients on lifestyle improvements, including specific exercises and diet recommendations
- Refer patients to additional healthcare specialists if necessary and collaborate on treatment
- Maintain records on patient's conditions and treatment
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Some nights and weekends
Chiropractors traditionally work full time in an office environment. Some adjust their weekly schedule to include evening and weekend hours to accommodate patients. Many chiropractors are self-employed, but you can also join a group of chiropractic physicians.
Chiropractors spend a lot of time standing while examining patients and performing tests. You may travel to patients' homes to administer exams and treatment.
Specialists may work in different environments, as with sports chiropractors who travel to various locations to assist athletes.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree
Acceptance to Doctor of Chiropractic programmes requires at least 90 semester hours of undergraduate coursework, though most students complete a bachelor's degree before applying. Check with your school of choice to see what specific subjects are required before entering their chiropractic programme. A DC degree generally takes four years to complete.
In order to become a practising chiropractor, you will also need to pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exam. Many states require background checks and additional exams, and you must be licensed in that state to practise. Continuing education will be necessary to maintain your licence.
Chiropractic colleges also offer additional training for specialties in the field, including sports, paediatrics and neurology.
Many chiropractors progress to set up their own practice, alone or as a managing partner of a larger office.
You can do further postgraduate work for advanced diplomate status in a specialty field, including chiropractic paediatrics, sports injuries and neurology. All specialties must be completed at schools accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE). A certification exam from the specialty's board is also required.