Chiropractic care dates back to 1895. The name comes from the Greek word meaning "done by hand." However, the roots of the profession can be traced back to the beginning of recorded time.
Chiropractic was developed by Daniel David Palmer, a self-taught healer in Davenport, Iowa. Palmer wanted to find a cure for disease and illness that did not use drugs. He studied the structure of the spine and the ancient art of moving the body with the hands (manipulation). Palmer started the Palmer School of Chiropractic, which still exists today.
Doctors of chiropractic must complete 4 to 5 years at an accredited chiropractic college. Their training includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory, and clinical experience.
The education provides students with an in-depth understanding of the structure and function of the human body in health and disease.
The educational program includes training in the basic medical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry. The education allows a doctor of chiropractic to both diagnose and treat patients.
The profession believes in using natural and conservative methods of health care, without the use of drugs or surgery.
Chiropractors treat people with muscle and bone problems, such as neck pain, low back pain, osteoarthritis, and spinal disk conditions.
Today, most practicing chiropractors mix spinal adjustments with other therapies. These may include physical rehabilitation and exercise recommendations, mechanical or electrical therapies, and hot or cold treatments.
Chiropractors take a medical history in the same way as other health care providers. They then do an exam to look at:
Muscle strength versus weakness
Posture in different positions
Spinal range of motion
They also do standard nervous system and orthopedic tests common to all medical professions.
REGULATION OF THE PROFESSION
Chiropractors are regulated at two different levels:
Board certification is conducted by the National Board of Chiropractor Examiners, which creates national standards for chiropractic care.
Licensure takes place at the state level under specific state laws. Licensing and the scope of practice may differ from state to state. Most states require that chiropractors complete the National Chiropractic Board examination before they get their license. Some states also require chiropractors to pass a practical examination. All states recognize training from chiropractic schools accredited by the Council of Chiropractic Education (CCE).
Most states require that chiropractors complete a certain number of continuing education hours every year to keep their license.
Johnson C, Rubinstein SM, Côté P, et al. Chiropractic Care and Public Health: Answering Difficult Questions About Safety, Care Through the Lifespan, and Community Action. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2012 (35);7:493-513.
Christopher J. Fox, DC, ATC, Specializing in family care and sports injuries at FOX Spine Sports Medicine, West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.