What is a Chiropractor?

As a Chiropractor, I get this question a lot, especially since I have been told that I am not like “some other chiropractors” that a patient has seen in the past. However the word "Chiropractic" is taken from Greek, meaning, "Done by Hand" and I take this literally in that I use my hands to get my patients better.

Nonetheless, to answer the question, Chiropractors, or Doctors of Chiropractic (DC) are a regulated health care profession that is one of five professions that is able to render a diagnosis (the other four are medical doctors, dentists, psychologists, and optometrists) and are concerned with how the body’s nerves, muscles and joints function as a whole. They focus on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the body. They are specialists in using manipulations of joints to improve range of motion and flexibility, and to restore proper function to joints. Joint Manipulation is a highly controlled procedure with scientific studies showing that it is safe and helps improve the function of joints and is effective for common conditions such as headache, neck, and back pain. In addition to moving joints, Chiropractors use other soft tissue therapy, stretches and strengthening programmes to help with your individual condition. Essentially they are specialize in the neuromusculoskeletal system. However each chiropractor is different and their approach may vary as well. No one chiropractor is better than another, I have a saying: 

Everything works for some people some of the time.

For more details about how my approach is different either read through my site or contact me and I or my staff will answer your questions.

History of Chiropractic Care

Much of this history has been taken from various sites and have been with me for some time that I cannot reference one particular source. So, I thank all Chiropractic Historians and the professional organizations that represent chiropractic, and Google for lending some help.

The roots of chiropractic care can be traced all the way back to the beginning of recorded time. Writings from China and Greece in 2700 B.C. and 1500 B.C. mention spinal manipulation and the maneuvering of the lower extremities to ease low back pain. Hippocrates, the Greek physician, who lived from 460 to 357 B.C., also published texts detailing the importance of chiropractic care. In one of his writings he declares, "Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases". However, many cultures have used some form of physical manipulation in healing, including the Ancient Egyptians, Classical Greeks, Amerindians, Chinese, and Africans. Bonesetting was a form of spinal manipulation widely used by medical professionals in 19th century England.

In North America, the practice of spinal manipulation began gaining momentum in the late nineteenth century. In 1895, Daniel David Palmer founded the Chiropractic profession in Davenport, Iowa. Palmer was well read in medical journals of his time and had great knowledge of the developments that were occurring throughout the world regarding anatomy and physiology, some believe (as I do) that much of this knowledge was gained by Andrew Taylor Still an Osteopath (English trained bonesetter) and the founder of Osteopathy in the United States.

Daniel David Palmer was originally from Port Perry, Ontario. D.D. Palmer began the codification of the philosophy, science and art of chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa and opened the first school of Chiropractic there in 1897. Bartlett Joshua Palmer, D.D. Palmer's son, was influential in the development of modern chiropractic.

The history of chiropractic in Canada demonstrates the struggle faced by the new profession in gaining legitimacy, and the manner in which chiropractic has become Canada's third largest primary health care provider. The chiropractic profession received mention in the Royal Commission on Medical Education in 1915. In its final report two years later, the Commission concluded that there was value in the physical methods of care such as chiropractic; however, it recommended that chiropractic should become part of general medical training, not a separate profession (which is something that I believe should be as well). In 1921, the Ontario Medical Association claimed that chiropractic negatively influenced science, and should not be given consideration under law.

Despite these early setbacks, the Ontario legislature passed the Drugless Practitioners Act in 1925, an umbrella law to regulate chiropractic, osteopathic, and drugless practitioners. Public pressure and the efficacy of chiropractic treatment allowed for the successful inclusion of chiropractic in the Ontario Workmen's Compensation Act of 1937. A Royal Commission formed in 1950 to study the functioning of the Workmen's Compensation Act concluded that chiropractic services should be retained for the benefit of injured workers, against the wishes of the medical profession in Ontario.

Before World War II (1939-1945), Canadians were required to study chiropractic in the United States. High tuition and living costs prevented access to chiropractic for many Canadians. In January 1943, chiropractors from all provinces gathered in Ottawa to create one sociopolitical association for the promotion of the profession and public health. The Dominion Council of Canadian Chiropractors was formed, later to become the Canadian Chiropractic Association in 1953.

One mandate of the newly formed Dominion Council of Canadian Chiropractors was to create a Canadian chiropractic college to serve as a focal point in education, research, co-operation and professional growth. The opening of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) on September 18, 1945 was an important moment in the history of Canadian chiropractic. At the time of the CMCC's founding, many chiropractic colleges only taught the techniques and manipulations associated with specific chiropractic schools of thought. The CMCC adopted a policy to teach all acceptable adjustive techniques and procedures and avoided adopting one specific school of thought. This inclusive approach was unique in 1945, and served as a model for the inclusive approach adopted by the majority of chiropractic colleges of today. The CMCC quickly gained an international reputation for excellence, and has graduated students from all Canadian provinces, the US, Europe, South Africa, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

Between 1962 and 1973, a series of public commissions into chiropractic validated the importance of the profession and increased public recognition of its benefits. The 1961 Royal Commission on Health Services, the 1966 Ontario Committee on Healing Arts, and the 1973 Ontario Council of Health's Task Force on Chiropractic all confirmed the benefits, safety, and efficacy of chiropractic care in Ontario.

The chiropractic profession has surpassed many hurdles in the recent past on its way to being Canada's third largest primary care profession after medicine and dentistry. In 1970, chiropractic was added to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan for partial coverage without the referral from a Physician. More recently, chiropractors were finally given the right to use the title, "Doctor" and were given full rights to diagnose, after a 66 year struggle.

The struggle to increase patient access to chiropractic services through full funding under OHIP is not complete, despite a large amount of scholarly evidence indicating the efficacy and cost-effective nature of chiropractic treatment. In 1993, the Manga Report, a study funded by the Ontario Government, concluded that chiropractic is the most effective treatment for lower back pain, in terms of efficacy, patient satisfaction, and cost. The Ontario government continues to study the Manga Report.

Education of Doctors of Chiropractic

Doctors of Chiropractic must complete four to five years at an accredited chiropractic college. The complete curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. Approximately 555 hours are devoted to learning about adjustive techniques and spinal analysis in colleges of chiropractic.

Those intending to become doctors of chiropractic must also pass the national board exam and all exams required by the state in which the individual wishes to practice. The individual must also meet all individual state licensing requirements in order to become a doctor of chiropractic.

An individual studying to become a doctor of chiropractic receives an education in both the basic and clinical sciences and in related health subjects. The intention of the basic chiropractic curriculum is to provide an in-depth understanding of the structure and function of the human body in health and disease. The educational program includes training in the basic medical sciences, including anatomy with human dissection, physiology, and biochemistry. Thorough training is also obtained in differential diagnosis, radiology and therapeutic techniques. This means, a doctor of chiropractic can both diagnose and treat patients, which separates them from non-physician status providers, like physiotherapists. According to the Council on Chiropractic Education, DCs are trained as Primary care Providers.

However, formal education to becoming a chiropractor is only enough to allow them to pass the examination process and make them proficient enough to practice. In order for you to be certain that your chiropractor has the appropriate knowledge base to identify and treat various conditions it requires exposure to many patients and a lot of continuing education. Currently the continuing education requirement for an Ontario based chiropractor is 40 hours every two years. My thought is that the more you learn the more you are able to treat and the better and faster you can help your patients achieve their optimal health. To learn more about the continuing education that I have taken, take a look at my CV.