Chiropractic is a primary health profession that specialises in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and management of conditions that are related to problems with bones, joints, muscles and nerves, particularly those related to the spine.
Chiropractors are highly skilled in the manual treatment of all the joints of the body, but more commonly the muscles, joints and ligaments of the spine often with manual therapy using their hands to perform a wide range of skilled, precise adjustments, mobilisation or soft tissue techniques.
Ancient Greek and Chinese civilizations, dating back thousands years, refer to the art as spinal manipulation. Modern chiropractic although, can be traced back to 1895 when Daniel David Palmer performed the first chiropractic adjustment. Later on he found the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa in 1897.
In the 21st century, there was a vast growth and development of the profession worldwide, gaining recognition and respect for the place it has taken in the primary care environment. Influential research, both from within and outside of the chiropractic research communities, has underpinned its development to an evidence based practice of the profession.
Chiropractic is unique in that the profession is organised internationally and there are international standards for education.
Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions.
Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college in the US or Europe, the requirements become very demanding — four to five academic years of professional full time 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.
Doctors of chiropractic undergo an intensive training in the healing sciences, similar to that of medical doctors. In some areas, such as anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation and radiology, they receive more intensive education than most medical doctors or physical therapists.
Like other primary health care professionals, chiropractic students spend a significant portion of their curriculum studying clinical subjects related to diagnosing and caring for patients. Typically they must complete a minimum of a one-year clinical-based program dealing with actual patient care. In total, the curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience.
This rigorous education prepares doctors of chiropractic to diagnose health care problems, treat the problems when they are within their scope of practice and refer patients to other health care practitioners when appropriate.