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One day while you are out jogging your back starts to hurt. Ouch! What type of medical practitioner do you decide to see? One option is a chiropractor. A chiropractor will treat you by using techniques to adjust or manipulate your spine. Chiropractors are health professionals concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health. There is emphasis on manual treatments including spinal manipulation or adjustment.

Chiropractors believe that good health depends upon a normally functioning nervous system, including the spine and nerves. They treat patients with problems associated with the body's muscular, nervous and skeletal systems -- especially the spine. Chiropractors believe that interference with the nervous system impairs normal functions and lowers resistance to disease. A chiropractor's holistic, natural, drug-free approach makes sense to health-conscious people who want to play an active role in their own health.

All chiropractors use a standard procedure of examination to diagnose a patient's condition and arrive at a course of treatment. Chiropractors consult with patients, talk about their medical history, perform a physical examination and a possible laboratory analysis. In addition, they provide a careful chiropractic structural examination, paying particular attention to the spine.

Examining the spine to evaluate structure and function is what differentiates chiropractors from traditional doctors. The spine is a series of moveable bones, which begin at the base of your skull and end in the center of your hips. The nerves leave the spine and form a complicated network which influences every living tissue in a person's body.

Injuries, stress, overexertion and countless other factors can result in a displacements of the spinal column, causing irritation to spinal nerve roots. Chiropractors say these irritations are often what cause malfunctions in the human body, therefore they believe that reducing or eliminating this irritation of spinal nerves can cause your body to operate more efficiently and more comfortably.

Like naturopathy, chiropractors emphasize proper nutrition and exercise, and wellness and lifestyle modifications for promoting physical and mental health. They stress the idea that the cause of many diseases begins with the body's inability to adapt to its environment. Chiropractors refer patients for medical care when a patient is need of specific traditional medicine or care, such as surgery.
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
Most chiropractors have good listening skills and can communicate treatment and therapy ideas to patients. They should have a pleasant demeanor, patience and perseverance, and be in good health. They should enjoy analyzing information to determine the most effective treatments, advising patients and adjusting or manipulating the patients to promote health and wellness.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Diagnose health problems by reviewing patients' health and medical histories; questioning, observing and examining patients and interpreting x-rays
  • Advise patients regarding recommended courses of treatment
  • Treat patients, which often involves a series of spinal adjustments and exercises to correct the musculoskeletal system to restore and maintain the function of the nervous system
  • Manipulate spinal column and other extremities to adjust, align, or correct abnormalities caused by neurologic and kinetic articular dysfunction
  • Use radiation and machine treatments
  • Recommend supportive treatments such as dietary and lifestyle changes
  • Refer patients to other health practitioners when appropriate
  • May take x-rays or refer patients to medical x-ray technologists
  • Most chiropractors work regular hours with occasional weekends and evenings to accommodate patients' schedules. Those who own a private clinic usually have more flexibility, however it is up to them to find patients, often taking years to do. Upper body strength is required to perform specific procedures and assist in patient movement.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Most chiropractors work in a private practice or in a group practice with other chiropractors. Some chiropractors may share offices with other health providers such as physiotherapists, massage therapists, physiotherapists or general practitioners. They may also offer services in the areas of occupational and industrial health, athletic injuries, x-ray interpretation, orthopedics, rehabilitation, nutrition, geriatrics or pediatrics.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Chiropractors may become naturopaths, physiotherapists or other forms of rehabilitation doctors with additional training. Some may become teachers of health and wellness or educators for larger community groups or colleges.

  Educational Paths  
In the United States, students only need two years of undergraduate studies to enter chiropractic school. Recommended pre-chiropractic courses include chemistry, biology, psychology and physiology. The majority of applicants have a bachelor's degree in science or arts.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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