What's the truth about chiropractors?
Certifications Are they legitimate? Who could benefit? Science Is it safe? Takeaway
Chiropractors attend graduate-level health colleges to treat disorders of the bones, nerves, muscles, and ligaments. They graduate as doctors of chiropractic degrees, but they are not medical doctors.
While chiropractors are widely known for treating back and neck pain, they also treat bone and soft tissue conditions.
In this article, we explore myths and truths of chiropractic care. We also describe the training that chiropractors undergo, how safe these treatments may be, and the research behind the practice.
What certifications must chiropractors have?
Chiropractor working on woman's back
A chiropractor's work involves making adjustments to reduce back pain.
A common myth is that chiropractors do not undergo a significant amount of training.
In fact, they typically complete about 8 years of higher education before they are licensed.
Chiropractors tend to have 4 years of undergraduate education.
They usually graduate with a pre-med major after having taken courses in sciences, such as biology, chemistry, psychology, and physics.
They then attend a chiropractic graduate program. On average, these involve 4 years of education with a total of 4,200 instructional hours in course credits.
Chiropractic program specifics
Divided by year, a chiropractic graduate program usually involves:
First year: Courses in general anatomy, chiropractic principles, biochemistry, spinal anatomy.
Second year: Courses in chiropractic procedures, pathology, clinical orthopedics, imaging interpretation, and research methods.
Third year: Courses in clinical internships, integrated chiropractic, pediatrics, dermatology, practice management, and ethics and jurisprudence.
Fourth year: A clinical internship, in which a student studies under a chiropractor and completes rotations in a hospital or veterans' clinic.
Other studies often accompany those mentioned above.
After completing the educational and training requirements, an aspiring chiropractor in the United States will sit for their state licensing board. Once they have obtained licensure and certification from the board, they will become a doctor of chiropractic.
Chiropractors often receive additional training and certification in a wide variety of specialties, including nutrition, sports medicine, acupuncture, and rehabilitation.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, the average chiropractic program involves as many classroom hours as a program that trains medical doctors.
Are chiropractors legitimate?
Another common myth is that a chiropractor merely cracks a person's back or bones.
Chiropractic care is centered around spinal manipulation. However, practitioners also study how the spine and its structures are related to the body's function.
What do chiropractors attempt to heal?
Stressed woman with a painful neck
Chiropractors attempt to heal whiplash-related conditions.
A majority of a chiropractor's work involves making adjustments to heal:
lower back pain
They may also provide services such as postural testing and analysis, as well as others designed to promote nutrition and healthful exercise.
Does it work?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health in the U.S., chiropractic therapy is the type most commonly used for back pain. An estimated 74 percent of Americans with pain in this area have used chiropractic care at some point in their treatment.
Results of a 2010 review cited by the center suggest that spinal manipulation may be useful for treating back pain, migraine headaches, whiplash, and other conditions affecting the upper and lower extremities.
Like other forms of treatment, chiropractic care will not benefit all injuries. Sessions should be tailored to a person's needs and performed by a licensed chiropractor.
An aspiring chiropractor must spend thousands of hours studying before obtaining a license. In 2016, an estimated 47,400 chiropractors were practicing in the U.S., according to the country's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Chiropractic care is drug-free and non-invasive, and it may treat some musculoskeletal problems. While this form of alternative medicine may not benefit everyone, it is generally considered safe for most people.
Source: Medical News Today