What is Chiropractic?

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Doctors of chiropractic are healthcare professionals who view health and illness from a holistic perspective. Musculoskeletal structures, body function and the nervous system are closely interrelated - disturbances in one system can impact the others, affecting health and well-being.

They believe the human body possesses an inherent ability to heal itself. By using non-drug, non-surgical treatment methods, body function can be restored or rehabilitated - and further disability can be prevented.

For the benefit of their patients, doctors of chiropractic consult with, co-manage and refer to other healthcare providers.

Doctors of chiropractic are primary contact providers who:

  • Evaluate, treat and prevent neuromusculoskeletal system disorders
  • Adjust and manually manipulate the spine and other joints
  • Treat soft tissue structures with manual therapies
  • May incorporate mechanical methods such as activator, Gonstead and laser therapy
  • Provide health and wellness assessments
  • Care for patients in a variety of settings including group practices, health systems and integrative medicine clinics

History of the profession

In 1895, D. D. Palmer delivered the first chiropractic adjustment and two years later, founded the first chiropractic college. Palmer believed the body has an innate ability to heal itself and that structure and function are directly connected.

Chiropractic practice and education continued to expand along with the development of professional standards. In 1919, chiropractic became a licensed health care profession in Minnesota. Instruction in the basic sciences, combined with developing proficiency is chiropractic technique, became foundational elements in the curricula at chiropractic colleges.

The chiropractic profession continues to grow worldwide in scope and influence through the expansion of patient care and professional advocacy. Advances in education, clinical training and accreditation standards for chiropractic colleges continue to evolve - with Northwestern taking the lead in developing innovative, community-based clinical internship programs. 

Growth of the profession

  • More than 60,000 licensed doctors of chiropractic in all 50 states
  • Approximately 15,000 in the rest of the world - all 10 Canadian provinces, Mexico and more than 40 other countries
  • Employment expected to jump 15% between 2012 and 2022 - faster than average for all occupations (Occupational Outlook Handbook - U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Practice environments and career paths include solo practice, group practice and multidisciplinary settings

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