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Chiropractors, also known as doctors of chiropractic or chiropractic physicians, diagnose
and treat patients with health problems of the muscular skeletal system and treat the effects
of those problems on the nervous system and on general health. Many chiropractic
treatments deal specifically with the spine and the manipulation of the spine. Chiropractic
medicine is based on the principle that spinal joint misalignments interfere with the nervous
system and can result in lower resistance to disease and many different conditions of
The chiropractic approach to health care stresses the patient’s overall health. Chiropractors
provide natural, drugless, nonsurgical health treatments, relying on the body’s inherent
recuperative abilities. They also recognize that many factors affect health, including
exercise, diet, rest, environment, and heredity. Chiropractors recommend changes in
lifestyle that affect those factors. In some situations, chiropractors refer patients to or
consult with other health practitioners.
Like other health practitioners, chiropractors follow a standard routine to get information
needed to diagnose and treat patients. They take the patient’s medical history; conduct
physical, neurological, and orthopedic examinations; and may order laboratory tests. X rays
and other diagnostic images are important tools because of the chiropractor’s emphasis on
the spine and its proper function. Chiropractors also analyze the patient’s posture and spine
using a specialized technique. For patients whose health problems can be traced to the
muscular skeletal system, chiropractors manually adjust the spinal column.
Some chiropractors use other alternative medicines in their practices, including therapies
using water, light, massage, ultrasound, electric, acupuncture, and heat. They also may
apply supports such as straps, tapes, and braces to manually adjust the spine.
Chiropractors counsel patients about health concepts such as nutrition, exercise, changes
in lifestyle, and stress management.
In addition to general chiropractic practice, some chiropractors specialize in sports injuries,
neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, nutrition, internal disorders, or diagnostic imaging.
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