What is a Chiropractor?

Reviewed by Stephen M. Perle, DC, MS

A Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), chiropractor, or chiropractic physician is a medical professional who is trained to diagnose and treat disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Chiropractors treat patients of all ages—infants, children, and adults. They believe in a conservative (non-surgical) hands-on approach to treating these disorders. Some chiropractors specialize in areas including:

A visit with a chiropractor is similar to other doctor appointments. The chiropractor diagnoses back pain after he or she takes the patient's medical history, performs a physical and neurological examination, and relies on other tests, such as diagnostic imaging and blood tests.

After a diagnosis is made, the chiropractor recommends a treatment plan. If the patient's disorder is beyond the scope of chiropractic care, the doctor refers the patient to the appropriate health care provider. Often, chiropractors co-treat patients with other health care providers.

Chiropractors do not perform surgery. Although hands-on manipulation of the problem-specific joints is central to chiropractic, treatment focuses on whole-body health. Working toward restoring and maintaining overall health may include physiological therapeutics (done by a physical therapist) and lifestyle counseling.

Chiropractors treat patients in different settings, such as a private or group practice, multi-disciplinary group practice, or hospitals and other health care facilities.

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