Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of both the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to:
pain in the joints of the arms or legs; and
Chiropractors are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises.
The purpose of a “spinal manipulation” or “chiropractic adjustment” is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become restricted in their movement. Manipulation or adjustment of the affected joint and tissues restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness allowing tissues to heal.
Chiropractic adjustment rarely causes discomfort. However patients may sometimes experience mild soreness or aching following treatment (as with some forms of exercise) that usually resolves within 12 to 48 hours.
North American trained chiropractors are educated as primary contact health care practitioners, with an emphasis on musculoskeletal diagnosis and treatment. Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions. The typical applicant at a chiropractic college has already acquired nearly four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education, including courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related lab work. Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college, the requirements become even more demanding — four to five academic years of professional study are the standard. Because of the hands-on nature of chiropractic, and the intricate adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is spent in clinical training.
In total, the chiropractic curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. The course of study is approved by an accrediting agency that is fully recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the qualifications are recognised worldwide.
Like the medical profession, chiropractors must also complete continuing education seminars after graduation. In New Zealand Chiropractors must complete 50 hours of continuing education over each two year period.