The practice of chiropractic medicine began when Daniel David Palmer gave the first adjustment in 1895. Over one hundred years later, there are now 77,000 chiropractors in the field. Chiropractic care is a health care discipline that emphasizes the relationship between the body’s main structures — the skeleton, the muscles and the nerves — and the patient’s health.
About 20 percent of the population have consulted a chiropractor at some point in their lives. The most common reason that people turn to chiropractic medicine is because of back problems. It isn’t surprising considering the following data:
- More than one-third of adults in United States are obese and the extra weight adds pressure to the spine.
- 80 percent of people say they have experienced lower back pain.
- Medication helps a majority of people but not everyone, leading patients to try alternative medical routes.
Typically, chiropractors spend between 30 and 40 hours a week in practice, although solo practitioners can set their own hours throughout the week. They’ll treat patients with musculoskeletal conditions, including neurological problems, joint problems and muscular issues. Chiropractors believe that these issues have the ability impair normal functioning, cause pain and lower resistance to disease. They resolve these issues with a hands-on technique they practice to adjust or manipulate imbalances, particularly in the spine. Chiropractors commonly use other treatments in addition to spinal manipulation, such as recommending therapeutic exercise or joint mobilization.
Patients agree that their adjustments have helped them. Ninety-five percent of those who have gone to a chiropractor say that their appointments have been effective. The Joint Commission (the organization that accredits health care systems and hospitals in the United States) also recognizes the value of using chiropractic medicine for pain management. Even though chiropractors aren’t able to prescribe drugs or perform surgery, they still have the ability to refer patients to professionals who perform these services. Also, they’re bound by the same regulations and ethics as allopathic doctors (M.D.) and osteopathic doctors (D.O.).
If you choose this career path, you’re not limited to working in a practice. There are different career opportunities that allow chiropractors to try the following positions:
- Solo practitioners
- Sports chiropractors
- Integrative chiropractic group practitioner
- VA/DoD chiropractor
Those who study in this field are looking at about seven to eight years of schooling. Most chiropractic medicine programs require that applicants have at least three years of undergraduate education and an increasing number require a bachelor’s degree before they can go to chiropractic college. There isn’t an official educational requirement, but some boards require a bachelor’s degree in order to practice.
If you’re interested in looking into the academic requirements or chiropractic medicine programs in general, The Association of Chiropractic Colleges has a handy list of the requirements and curriculum for accredited institutions in the United States.