According to dictionary.com, the definition of a chiropractor is simply one whose occupation is the practice of chiropractic. Although accurate, that definition does not provide much information for someone curious about this conservative health profession. To define chiropractor as a physician and to define the profession, it is necessary to understand the history of the chiropractic profession as well as the treatment styles among practitioners. The fundamentals of chiropractic care can be dated all the way back in history to 2700 B.C. when Chinese writings described spinal manipulation and “maneuvering” of the lower extremities to help decrease low back pain. Officially, the profession was founded in 1895 by Daniel David Palmer and he created the first chiropractic college, the Palmer School of Chiropractic, in 1897. Over time, and through hard work on the part of chiropractic students and physicians, the profession gained legal recognition in all fifty states. Although the philosophy of chiropractic care was initially held by all practitioners that spinal manipulation should be the only means of care provided, over time a separation began to appear within the profession itself and many physicians wanted to expand their scope and knowledge and provide patients with a more full-body healthcare experience.
The members of the profession who wanted to create more rounded, evidence-based chiropractic services essentially went on to create the ACA (American Chiropractic Association). Members who remain rooted in the original philosophy of spinal manipulation are typically members of the ICA (International Chiropractors Association). Chiropractic physicians can be found in many healthcare settings. Some physicians practice in a multidisciplinary setting, working along with MD’s and PT’s. Some chiropractors are employed at local hospitals while others find employment offering services for military and VA hospitals throughout the country and internationally as well. A chiropractic physician specializes in treatment and management of the musculoskeletal system and the disorders that can arise within this complex system. They are knowledgeable in treatment for a wide range of problems affecting this system of muscles and joints. A large number of chiropractic physicians receive additional education in specialized care such as pediatric chiropractic care, chiropractic orthopedics, chiropractic diagnosis and management of internal disorders, radiology, clinical nutrition, acupuncture, chiropractic sports care, occupational health and chiropractic rehabilitation. These educational distinctions are helpful for patients to make a more educated decision when choosing a chiropractic physician for a specific health care need.
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