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A chiropractor, or doctor of chiropractic medicine, is a licensed medical professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system, especially in the spine. A chiropractor believes that many health problems can stem from the misalignment, or subluxation, of the vertebrae.
The main aspect of treatment in chiropractic care is usually physical manipulation of the joints and the spine to bring them back into alignment. A chiropractor may also recommend exercises or offer health and nutritional counselling. A chiropractor does not perform surgery or prescribe medication.
A Chiropractor is a specialized type of Doctor.
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A chiropractor will evaluate and then treat the patient. When seeing a patient for the first time, a chiropractor will take his or her medical history, perform a physical exam and order any necessary tests, such as x-rays or an MRI. He or she will then develop a treatment plan, which most often will include physical adjustments or manipulations of the musculoskeletal system, but may also include massage, exercises, or other forms of physical therapy. Sometimes a chiropractor will run tests for vitamin and mineral deficiencies and will recommend supplements to correct any identified imbalances.
Initially, the physical manipulation treatments may need to be done quite frequently (perhaps a few times per week). As the body starts to heal, it will need fewer adjustments. Part of the chiropractor's job is to assess the patient's progress and adjust his or her treatment schedule accordingly.
Some chiropractors are more open to using or recommending other forms of medicine or therapies than others. There are basically two schools of thought in modern chiropractic care - 'straight' chiropractic and 'mixer'. Straight chiropractors believe that all illnesses or diseases in the body stem from subluxations in the spine. Mixer chiropractors, who are the majority of chiropractors practicing today, see that as just one part of the overall picture. Obviously, these are the chiropractors that are more likely to recommend other forms of treatment either as a supplement to or even instead of chiropractic care. Some chiropractors even work directly with massage therapists or sports medicine specialists.
Chiropractors can work independently in their own private practice or as part of a larger group practice. Approximately 44% of chiropractors in the US are self-employed. Some may work in hospitals or larger clinics, and some go on to teach at chiropractic colleges. The demand for chiropractors is on the rise, so job security and opportunities look promising for those in the field.