Talk to admissions counselors at chiropractic colleges, and you’ll find out why students choose to study chiropractic. They are drawn to the natural and non-pharmaceutical approach to health, and the hands-on adjusting techniques designed to restore normal joint biomechanics, relieve pain and reduce the risk of future joint problems. And most rewarding, as senior student interns, they enjoy the priceless reward of the gratitude of patients when they are back to their daily living activities – pain-free as a result of the chiropractic approach to healthcare.
Doctors of chiropractic (D.C.s) are healthcare professionals focused on the diagnosis, care, and prevention of disorders of the spine and other parts of the musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. D.C.s understand the effects these disorders can have on general health.
The relationship between structure – primarily the spine – and function – as coordinated by the nervous system—is central to chiropractic’s approach to patient care, health, and well-being.
The spinal column protects the spinal cord, which is an extension of the brain and is part of the central nervous system (CNS). Nerves from the spinal cord exit the spinal column and branch out like a delicate web to transmit information back and forth between the CNS and the rest of the body. Because of the close relationship between the spine and the nervous system, abnormal or dysfunctional spinal movement can adversely impact nerve function, affecting the communication between the brain and the body.
D.C.s acknowledge the importance of the nervous system in the control, coordination, and regulation of the body and that spinal or extremity joint dysfunction can affect nerve function and the body’s ability to regulate and maintain health.
Chiropractic is an inherently conservative approach to healthcare, and the profession values the intrinsic biologic ability of the body to self-regulate, restore and maintain health. The chiropractic perspective represents a holistic biopsychosocial philosophy of health and embraces a belief in optimizing health through:
The Doctor of Chiropractic starts by taking a patient’s history and then performing a physical examination, including assessing spinal and musculoskeletal joint function. The chiropractic examination focuses on evaluating joint pain or tenderness, spinal asymmetry, changes in the range of joint motion, muscle tone and strength, posture, and spinal or extremity joint stability.
The combination of the case history, examination, and diagnostic findings helps determine whether chiropractic services are appropriate for the patient’s condition. Based on the clinical indications, timing, or severity of the patient’s condition, the doctor recommends a trial of chiropractic care.
Chiropractic care may require a series of visits to relieve pain and improve joint function. Patients may also receive advice on home care, lifestyle modifications, exercise instruction, and nutritional advice.
The chiropractic spinal adjustment or manipulation is a manual procedure applying a force, sometimes mild, sometimes firm, and directed to one or more dysfunctional hypomobile joint segments. The adjustive procedures and techniques are precise and controlled and designed to introduce motion into a dysfunctional joint.
The adjustment often helps restore joint mobility and function, resolves joint inflammation, and reduces the patient’s pain. The D.C. adapts the adjustive technique and procedure to address each patient’s age, condition, and specific needs.
Addressing proper biomechanics is the focus of chiropractic care. With that goal in mind, students learn various adjustive techniques throughout their chiropractic education.
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners reports that most chiropractors use as many as five or six different techniques in their practices. Examples of chiropractic adjustive techniques include:
While most chiropractic services are community-based in private offices, interdisciplinary and integrated practices are now common, with doctors of chiropractic, medical doctors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, and others working as partners in patient care.
Chiropractors are providing care as part of occupational health and rehabilitation centers, national sports medicine teams, and multidisciplinary corporate health centers, including onsite wellness centers at Google, Cisco Systems, Facebook, and Amazon.
A growing list of research studies demonstrates that chiropractic services are not only clinically effective and safe but are also a cost-effective health care option. Over the past few years, there has been a push towards conservative spine care as it has become clear that interventions like surgery should only be a last resort.
Back pain is one of the most common pain conditions worldwide and is a major contributor to the prescription and use of opioids in America. Studies demonstrate that the drug-free approach delivered by D.C.s is far safer and yields better outcomes than opioids for the management of chronic low back pain. Patients choosing the services provided by D.C.s as a first-line treatment are less likely to use opioids for pain management.
Patient satisfaction with the chiropractic approach to spine care ranks very high (up to 90%), as reflected in patient surveys published in Consumer Reports, the Gallup-Palmer Report, and those by Medicare and Tricare.
Patient compliments aside, the American College of Physicians – the largest medical specialty organization in the United States – changed its patient care guidelines. The ACP now recommends the first choice to help patients with low-back pain are non-pharmacological treatments, including spinal manipulative therapies.
Every year, chiropractors treat nearly 40 million people in the U.S. alone. To become a chiropractor is to become part of the healthcare solution.
Statistics show that doctors of chiropractic are everywhere, from small towns to big cities, and may be in group or solo practices and multidisciplinary health centers. Chiropractic services are made available to active-duty military personnel and in 200 Veterans Administration hospitals in the U.S. The website Practical Pain Management reports that up to 80% of the U.S. population will experience back pain at some point in their lives, and low-back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
The compensation chiropractors can expect reflects the value of what they do. Income for chiropractors in well-established practices can range to $100,000+, which often includes salary plus bonuses, profit sharing, or both.
Chiropractors typically work a 40-hour workweek, have a good work/life balance, and report high levels of job satisfaction. In the latest U.S. News & World Report jobs survey, chiropractors ranked #19 in the Best Health Care Jobs category.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a private, nonprofit, chiropractic and health sciences university specializing in the chiropractic and health sciences. The CUKC campus is in Overland Park, Kansas, a Kansas City area suburb of 190,000 people.
Today, more than one out of every 10 U.S. chiropractors have earned their degrees from CUKC. (Click here to request more information.)
In addition to the 3.5-year doctor of chiropractic (D.C.) degree, CUKC offers a combined B.S./D.C. degree program for those students who want to start their chiropractic education straight out of high school.
Other students earn their B.S. in Human Biology degree at CUKC, which is excellent preparation for the chiropractic degree – it sets up students to navigate the rigorous coursework of our College of Chiropractic successfully.
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