Chiropractors treat patients with health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They use spinal adjustments, manipulation, and other techniques to manage patients’ health concerns, such as back and neck pain.
Decision-making skills. Chiropractors must determine the best course of action when treating a patient. They must also decide when to refer patients to other health care professionals.
Detail oriented. Chiropractors must be observant and pay attention to details so that they can make proper diagnoses and avoid mistakes that could harm patients.
Dexterity. Because they use their hands to perform manual adjustments to the spine and other joints, chiropractors should be well-coordinated to perform therapy effectively.
Empathy. Chiropractors often care for people who are in pain. They must be understanding and sympathetic to their patients’ problems and needs.
Interpersonal skills. Chiropractors must be personable to keep clients coming to them. Also, because chiropractors frequently touch patients in performing therapy, they should be able to put their patients at ease.
Chiropractors must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and a state license. Doctor of Chiropractic programs typically take 4 years to complete and require at least 3 years of undergraduate college education for admission.
Chiropractors typically do the following:
- Assess a patient’s medical condition by reviewing their medical history, listening to the patient’s concerns, and performing a physical examination
- Analyze the patient’s posture, spine, and reflexes
- Conduct tests, including evaluating a patient’s posture and taking x rays
- Identify health problems
- Provide neuromusculoskeletal therapy, which involves adjusting a patient’s spinal column and other joints by hand
- Give additional treatments, such as applying heat or cold to a patient’s injured areas
- Advise patients on health and lifestyle issues, such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits
- Refer patients to other health care professionals, if needed
Chiropractors focus on patients’ overall health. Chiropractors believe that misalignments of the spinal joints interfere with a person’s neuromuscular system and can result in lower resistance to disease, as well as other conditions of poor health.
Some chiropractors use procedures such as massage therapy, rehabilitative exercise, and ultrasound in addition to spinal adjustments and manipulation. They also may apply supports, such as braces or shoe inserts, to treat patients and relieve pain.
In addition to operating a general chiropractic practice, some chiropractors concentrate in areas such as sports, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, or nutrition, among others. Chiropractors in private practice are responsible for marketing their businesses, hiring staff, and keeping records.
|Quick Facts: Chiropractors|
$66,160 per year
$31.81 per hour
|Doctoral or professional degree|
|15% (Faster than average)|
Chiropractors held about 44,400 jobs in 2012. Most chiropractors work in a solo or group practice. About 37 percent were self-employed in 2012. A small number work in hospitals or physicians’ offices.
Chiropractors typically work in office settings that are clean and comfortable. They may be on their feet for long periods when examining and caring for patients.
Although most chiropractors worked full time, about 1 out of 3 worked part time in 2012. Chiropractors may work in the evenings or on weekends, to accommodate working patients. Self-employed chiropractors set their own hours.
Employment of chiropractors is projected to grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. People across all age groups are increasingly seeking chiropractic care, because most chiropractors treat patients without performing surgery or prescribing drugs.
Chiropractic treatment of the back, neck, limbs, and involved joints has become more accepted as a result of research and changing attitudes about additional approaches healthcare. As a result, chiropractors are increasingly working in hospitals and clinics as part of a team-based model of patient care.
The aging of the large baby-boom generation will lead to new opportunities for chiropractors. Older adults are more likely to have neuromusculoskeletal and joint problems and they are seeking treatment for these conditions more often as they lead longer, more active lives.