After undergraduate study, chiropractic students earn a four-year doctorate degree with classroom and laboratory work in basic clinical sciences, physical examination, diagnosis and differential diagnosis, x-ray, and interpretation of laboratory blood work and other treatment procedures. Clinical education includes a year-long internship overseen by a licensed doctor of chiropractic on patients with various clinical presentations using manipulation as their primary clinical procedure. Doctors of chiropractic are required to refer patients to the appropriate health care provider if a condition is detected that is not subject to appropriate management by chiropractic methods or techniques.
Doctors of chiropractic promote preventative care by providing advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle. Preventive care results in cost savings as health is maintained, disease avoided, and costly procedures forgone.
Scope of Practice
Doctors of chiropractic are educated, trained and licensed by the state of California to treat all conditions, diseases, or injuries in a manner consistent with chiropractic methods and techniques. Doctors of chiropractic provide treatment without drugs or surgery. Prevention is stressed, including wellness protocols such as diet, exercise and lifestyle changes including nutrition, vitamins, minerals, herbs and other options. Typical treatment involves manual adjustments to spine and/or extremities. Physiotherapy and other soft tissue techniques also utilized. Exercise and rehabilitation are prescribed to enhance function and for condition prevention.
Overwhelming Evidence Shows Chiropractic Effective for Pain Reduction and Restoration of Function
Numerous studies throughout the world have shown that chiropractic treatment, including manipulative therapy and spinal adjustments, is both safe and effective. Many other studies have shown that chiropractic care can be a cost-effective remedy that brings healing in less time than other treatments. The following are excerpts from just a few of these studies:
For Acute Low-Back Problems
“For patients with acute low-back symptoms without radiculopathy, the scientific evidence suggests spinal manipulation is effective in reducing pain and perhaps speeding recovery within the first month of symptoms. – Clinical Practice Guidelines, AHCPR (1994)
For Long-Term Low-Back Problems
“There is strong evidence that manipulation is more effective than a placebo treatment for chronic low-back pain or than usual care by the general practitioner, bed rest, analgesics and massage.” – Spine, Van Tulder and Bouter et al. (1997) “…improvement in all patients at three years was about 29% more in those treated by chiropractors than in those treated by the hospitals. The beneficial effect of chiropractic on pain was particularly clear.” – British Medical Journal, Meade et al. (1995) “Manipulative therapy and physiotherapy are better than general practitioner and placebo treatment. Furthermore, manipulative therapy is slightly better than physiotherapy after 12 months.” – British Medical Journal, Koes et al. (1992)
“…patients suffering from back and/or neck complaints experience chiropractic care as an effective means of resolving or ameliorating pain and functional impairments, thus reinforcing previous results showing the benefits of chiropractic treatment for back and neck pain.” – Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Verhoef et al. (1997) “…for the management of low-back pain, chiropractic care is the most effective treatment, and it should be fully integrated into the government’s health care system.” – The Manga Report (1993)
“Cervical spine manipulation was associated with significant improvement in headache outcomes in trials involving patients with neck pain and/or neck dysfunction and headache.” – Duke Evidence Report, McCrory, Penzlen, Hasselblad, Gray (2001) “The results of this study show that spinal manipulative therapy is an effective treatment for tension headaches…Four weeks after cessation of treatment…the patients who received spinal manipulative therapy experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in all major outcomes in contrast to the patients that received amitriptyline therapy, who reverted to baseline values.” - Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Boline et al. (1995)
For the Elderly
“[Elderly] chiropractic users were less likely to have been hospitalized, less likely to have used a nursing home, more likely to report a better health status, more likely to exercise vigorously, and more likely to be mobile in the community. In addition, they were less likely to use prescription drugs.” - Topics in Clinical Chiropractic, Coulter et al. (1996)
For Containing Costs and Getting Workers Back on the Job
“Findings from this analysis of the Florida DWC claims and medical files indicated that considerable cost savings and more efficient claims resolution may be possible with greater involvement of chiropractic treatment in specific low back cases and other specific musculoskeletal cases.” – MGT of America (2002) “The overwhelming body of evidence” shows that chiropractic management of low-back pain is more cost-effective than medical management, and that “many medical therapies are of questionable validity or are clearly inadequate.” – The Manga Report (1993) First contact chiropractic care for common low back conditions costs substantially less than traditional medical treatment and “deserves careful consideration” by managed care executives concerned with controlling health care spending. Medical Care, Stano and Smith (1996)