What is a Chiropractor?

A chiropractor specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders, particularly those affecting the spine. They utilize a hands-on approach to manipulate and adjust the spine and other joints, aiming to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and enhance overall function.

Chiropractors focus on the relationship between the spine and the nervous system, understanding that misalignments or dysfunctions in the spine can interfere with the body's ability to heal itself and maintain optimal health. They employ a variety of techniques, including spinal adjustments, soft tissue therapies, rehabilitative exercises, and lifestyle counseling, to address the underlying causes of pain and discomfort. Chiropractors often work in private practice and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive care to their patients, emphasizing a holistic approach to health and well-being.

What does a Chiropractor do?

A chiropractor adjusting a patient.

Duties and Responsibilities
With their expertise in spinal manipulation and hands-on techniques, chiropractors provide effective and non-invasive solutions for a wide range of conditions. Their holistic approach to patient care encompasses not only alleviating symptoms but also addressing the underlying causes of discomfort. Here are some of their key responsibilities:

  • Patient Assessment: Chiropractors begin by conducting thorough patient assessments, including medical history reviews, physical examinations, and diagnostic imaging when necessary. They utilize these assessments to identify the source of musculoskeletal issues, analyze spinal alignment, and evaluate the overall condition of the patient.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment: Based on their assessments, chiropractors diagnose and develop personalized treatment plans for their patients. They employ various techniques, such as spinal adjustments, joint mobilization, soft tissue therapies, rehabilitative exercises, and lifestyle counseling, to address the underlying causes of pain, discomfort, and dysfunction.
  • Spinal Manipulation: Chiropractors specialize in spinal manipulation, also known as chiropractic adjustments. These skilled and precise manual techniques involve applying controlled force to joints that are restricted or not functioning optimally. By restoring proper joint mobility and alignment, chiropractors aim to relieve pain, improve range of motion, and enhance overall function.
  • Pain Management: Chiropractors employ a variety of methods to manage pain, both acute and chronic. Alongside spinal adjustments, they may use techniques like massage, trigger point therapy, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and heat or cold therapy to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Preventive Care and Wellness Promotion: Chiropractors emphasize the importance of preventive care and overall wellness. They educate their patients about proper posture, ergonomics, exercise, nutrition, and other lifestyle factors that can contribute to musculoskeletal health. By addressing these factors, chiropractors help patients prevent injuries and maintain optimal health.
  • Collaboration and Referrals: Chiropractors often collaborate with other healthcare professionals to ensure comprehensive patient care. They may refer patients to specialists when necessary, such as orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, or primary care physicians, and work in conjunction with them to provide a multidisciplinary approach to treatment.
  • Patient Education: Chiropractors take the time to educate their patients about their conditions, treatment options, and self-care strategies. They empower patients to actively participate in their own healing process, encouraging them to adopt healthy lifestyle habits, perform prescribed exercises, and make informed decisions about their healthcare.
  • Record-Keeping and Documentation: Chiropractors maintain detailed records of patient assessments, treatment plans, progress notes, and outcomes. Accurate documentation ensures effective communication within the healthcare team, tracks patient progress, and facilitates insurance claims and reimbursement.

Types of Chiropractors
There are several types of chiropractors who specialize in different areas of chiropractic care. Some of the most common types of chiropractors include:

  • Chiropractic Neurologists: Chiropractic neurologists have undergone specialized training in the field of neurology. They focus on the relationship between the nervous system and musculoskeletal system, using chiropractic techniques and neurological assessments to diagnose and treat conditions.
  • Chiropractic Radiologists: Chiropractic radiologists specialize in diagnostic imaging and radiology. They are skilled in interpreting X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and other imaging modalities to assess musculoskeletal conditions and related abnormalities. Chiropractic radiologists play a vital role in helping chiropractors make accurate diagnoses and develop appropriate treatment plans for their patients.
  • Chiropractic Rehabilitation Specialists: Chiropractic rehabilitation specialists have advanced training and expertise in the field of rehabilitation. They focus on providing specialized care for patients recovering from musculoskeletal injuries or conditions and aim to restore their functional abilities and improve overall quality of life.
  • Geriatric Chiropractors: Geriatric chiropractors specialize in providing chiropractic care to older adults. They address age-related conditions, such as arthritis, joint degeneration, balance problems, and mobility issues, with gentle and age-appropriate techniques.
  • Pediatric Chiropractors: Pediatric chiropractors focus on the specific needs of infants, children, and teenagers. They are trained to assess and address issues related to childhood development, such as spinal misalignments, posture problems, and musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Sports Chiropractors: These chiropractors specialize in treating sports-related injuries and enhancing athletic performance. They work with athletes and sports enthusiasts to address issues such as sprains, strains, joint instability, and muscle imbalances.

Are you suited to be a chiropractor?

Chiropractors have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also social, meaning they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly.

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What is the workplace of a Chiropractor like?

The workplace of a chiropractor can vary depending on factors such as their employment setting, practice specialization, and personal preferences. Many chiropractors work in private practice, either as solo practitioners or as part of group practices with other healthcare professionals such as massage therapists, physical therapists, or acupuncturists. In these settings, chiropractors typically have their own offices equipped with treatment tables, chiropractic adjustment tools, and diagnostic equipment. They may also have administrative staff to manage appointments, billing, and patient records.

Additionally, chiropractors may work in multidisciplinary healthcare clinics, where they collaborate with other healthcare providers to offer integrated care for patients. These clinics may provide a range of services such as chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and nutritional counseling, allowing for a holistic approach to patient care. Chiropractors in these settings often have access to a wider range of resources and may benefit from opportunities for professional collaboration and interdisciplinary learning.

Some chiropractors may also work in non-traditional settings such as corporate wellness programs, sports medicine facilities, or integrative healthcare centers. In these settings, they may provide chiropractic care to employees, athletes, or patients seeking alternative or complementary healthcare options. The workplace environment for chiropractors is typically clean, professional, and patient-focused, with an emphasis on creating a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Chiropractor vs Osteopath

Chiropractors and osteopaths are both healthcare professionals who focus on the musculoskeletal system and its related disorders. While there are similarities between the two professions, there are also distinct differences in their philosophies, approaches, and training. Here's a breakdown of each:

A chiropractor specializes in diagnosing and treating mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, particularly those related to the spine. They primarily focus on spinal adjustments or manipulations to correct misalignments, improve joint function, and alleviate pain. Chiropractors often emphasize the relationship between the spine and the nervous system, believing that spinal dysfunction can affect overall health.

Their treatment approach typically involves manual techniques like spinal adjustments, mobilizations, soft tissue therapies, and exercise prescription. In addition to hands-on treatments, chiropractors may provide nutritional advice and lifestyle recommendations to support the body's natural healing processes. To become a chiropractor, individuals usually earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree after completing a specialized chiropractic program.

Osteopaths are trained as physicians and have a broader scope of practice compared to chiropractors. While they also focus on the musculoskeletal system, they consider the body as a whole and its interconnected systems. Osteopaths use manual techniques, including joint manipulations, soft tissue mobilization, and stretching, to restore balance, mobility, and function. In addition to addressing musculoskeletal issues, osteopaths also take into account other areas such as the circulatory, respiratory, and nervous systems, aiming to improve overall health and well-being.

Osteopathic treatment often involves a holistic approach, considering factors like lifestyle, diet, stress management, and more that may contribute to a patient's condition. Osteopaths complete a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree, which includes training in general medicine as well as osteopathic manipulative treatment.

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Doctor Specializations and Degrees

The following is a comprehensive list of the various specializations that a doctor can pursue and a brief summary of each specialization:

  • Allergist: An allergist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma, and related conditions. Allergists have specialized training in the recognition and management of allergic reactions.
  • Anesthesiologist: An anesthesiologist keeps a patient comfortable, safe and pain-free during surgery by administering local or general anesthetic.
  • Cardiologist: A cardiologist specializes in finding, treating, and preventing diseases that affect the heart, the arteries, and the veins.
  • Cardiothoracic Surgeon: A cardiothoracic surgeon specializes in surgical procedures inside the thorax (the chest), which may involve the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. As well as performing surgery, they also diagnose and treat diseases of these organs.
  • Chiropractic Neurologist: A chiropractic neurologist is a specialized type of chiropractor who has undergone additional training in the field of neurology. They diagnose and treat conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system.
  • Chiropractor: A chiropractor, or doctor of chiropractic medicine, specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system, especially in the spine. Treatment is usually physical manipulation of the joints and the spine to bring them back into alignment. A chiropractor does not perform surgery or prescribe medication.
  • Colorectal Surgeon: A colorectal surgeon specializes in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, as well as the entire gastric tract. These surgeons work closely with urologists, who handle the urogenital tract in males and the urinary tract of women, gynecologists, who deal with specific female issues, and gastroenterologists, who deal with diseases of the gut.
  • Doctor: An general overview of what a doctor does and how to become one.
  • Dentist: Dentists identify potential oral health issues such as gum disease, as well as examine patients, order medical tests and determine the correct diagnosis and treatment. They also perform oral surgery and remove teeth or address other dental health problems.
  • Dermatologist: A dermatologist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions affecting skin, hair, sweat and oil glands, nails, and mucus membranes (inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids) which can include cancer.
  • Emergency Medicine Physician: An emergency medicine physician works in emergency departments, hospitals, and urgent care clinics, and is often the first medical professional that patients see when they are in need of urgent medical care.
  • Endocrinologist: An endocrinologist specializes in diagnosing conditions and diseases related to the glands and hormones. While primary care doctors know a lot about the human body, for conditions and diseases directly related to glands and hormones they will typically send a patient to an endocrinologist.
  • Family Practitioner: A family practitioner specializes in caring for the entire family. Patients can be children, adults, and the elderly, and are treated for a wide array of medical issues.
  • Forensic Pathologist: A forensic pathologist investigates the cause of sudden and unexpected deaths, and is able to determine how a person died by performing an autopsy and studying tissue and laboratory results. These doctors are often called upon to provide evidence in court regarding the cause and time of such deaths.
  • Gastroenterologist: A gastroenterologist has specific training in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This may include diseases and disorders that affect the the biliary system (liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts), as well as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon).
  • Geriatrician: A geriatrician specializes in the care of elderly patients, and often works with patients who have multiple chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as age-related cognitive and functional impairments.
  • Gynecologist: A gynecologist specializes in women's reproductive systems. Gynecologists are also sometimes certified as obstetricians, and will monitor the health of the mother and the fetus during a pregnancy.
  • Hematologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders, such as anemia and leukemia.
  • Hospitalist: A hospitalist is a physician whose focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their duties include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital medicine.
  • Immunologist: An immunologist specializes in managing problems related to the immune system, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. A smaller number of immunologists are strictly researchers seeking to better understand how the immune system works and to help develop better ways of diagnosing and providing treatment for many immunological conditions.
  • Infectious Disease Specialist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.
  • Internist: An internist is a 'doctor of internal medicine' who can diagnose, treat, and practice compassionate care for adults across the spectrum, from health to complex illness. They are not to be mistaken with "interns," who are doctors in their first year of residency training.
  • Medical Examiner: Medical examiners are responsible for performing autopsies and collecting evidence related to the circumstances of a death, including medical history, physical examination findings, and toxicology tests.
  • Naturopathic Physician: A naturopathic physician blends modern scientific medical practice and knowledge with natural and traditional forms of medical treatment. The goal is to treat the underlying causes of disease while stimulating the body's own healing abilities.
  • Nephrologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. They treat conditions such as chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, kidney stones, hypertension, and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Neurologist: A neurologist specializes in treating diseases that affect the human nervous system. It is a very prestigious and difficult medical specialty due to the complexity of the nervous system, which consists of the brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves.
  • Neurosurgeon: A neurosurgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system. This includes congenital anomalies, trauma, tumours, vascular disorders, infections of the brain or spine, stroke, or degenerative diseases of the spine.
  • Obstetrician: An obstetrician is a medical doctor who specializes in caring for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
  • Occupational Physician: Occupational medicine is focused on keeping individuals well at work, both mentally and physically. As workplaces become more complex, occupational physicians play an important role in advising people on how their work can affect their health.
  • Oncologist: An oncologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The three primary types of oncologists are: medical oncologists that specialize in the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells; surgical oncologists that perform surgical procedures to identify and remove cancerous tumors; and radiation oncologists that treat cancer with radiation therapy.
  • Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a specialist that deals specifically with the structure, function, diseases, and treatment of the eye. Due to the complexities and the importance of the eye as a special sense that provides vision, the discipline of ophthalmology is dedicated solely to this organ.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: An oral and maxillofacial surgeon treats dental and medical problems involving the oral cavity and the maxillofacial area. The maxillofacial area includes the bones of the forehead, face, cheekbones and the soft tissues. Treatment often involves performing surgery and related procedures to treat diseases, defects, or injuries, and to improve function or appearance.
  • Orthodontist: An orthodontist specializes in how the jaws and teeth are aligned. They help people whose teeth are misaligned or require some kind of correction – those with an improper bite, or malocclusion.
  • Orthopedic Surgeon / Orthopedist: An orthopaedic surgeon (or orthopedist) examines, diagnoses, and treats diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. This system includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves.
  • Osteopath: Osteopaths have attended and graduated from an osteopathic medical school and practise the system of healthcare known as osteopathy. They consider all aspects of the patient, not just the symptoms they exhibit. They see the integrated nature of the body’s organ systems and its capacity for self-regulation and self-healing.
  • Otolaryngologist: Otolaryngologists (or ENT physicians) are specialists trained in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. These specialists are trained in both medicine and surgery.
  • Pathologist: A pathologist studies the causes, nature, and effects of disease. The field of pathology is broad with concentrations on changes in cells, tissues, and organs that are the result of a disease.
  • Pediatrician: A pediatrician specializes in providing medical care to infants, children and teenagers by administering treatments, therapies, medications and vaccinations to treat illness, disorders or injuries.
  • Periodontist: A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in oral inflammation, and who knows how to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease.
  • Plastic Surgeon: A plastic surgeon specializes in reshaping healthy body parts for aesthetic reasons, and also in repairing or replacing body parts damaged by accidents, illness or malformation.
  • Podiatrist: A podiatrist practices podiatric medicine, which is a branch of science devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and study of medical disorders of the foot, ankle, lower leg and lower back. In the U.S. and Canada, podiatry is practiced as a specialty.
  • Prosthodontist: A prosthodontist specializes in restoring the look, function, comfort, and health of a patient's oral cavity with artificial materials. These artificial materials are made up of a wide variety of restorations that include fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, bridges and oral implants.
  • Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are physicians who evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are affected by a temporary or chronic mental health problem.
  • Pulmonologist: A pulmonologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary (lung) conditions and diseases of the chest, particularly pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, and complicated chest infections.
  • Radiologist: A radiologist is a specialist in interpreting medical images that may be obtained with x-rays, (CT scans or radiographs), nuclear medicine (involving radioactive substances, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound.
  • Rheumatologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
  • Sports Medicine Physician: A sports medicine physician specializes in taking care of people who have sports injuries that may be acquired from playing sports, exercising, or from otherwise being physically active.
  • Surgeon: A surgeon performs surgery for the purpose of removing diseased tissue or organs, to repair body systems, or to replace diseased organs with transplants.
  • Telemedicine Physician: A telemedicine physician provides remote healthcare services to patients using telecommunications technology, facilitating virtual consultations, diagnoses, and treatment recommendations.
  • Urologist: A urologist specializes in the treatment of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. Urologists can treat the kidneys, urinary bladder, urethra, uterus, and male reproductive organs. There are also specific specialty areas that urologists may choose to focus on, such as pediatric urology, male infertility, and urologic oncology.
  • Vascular Medicine Specialist - A vascular medicine specialist specializes in the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels. They may work with patients who have conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery disease, or pulmonary embolism.
  • Vascular Surgeon - A vascular surgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels, including aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, and varicose veins.
  • Veterinary Dentist - A veterinary dentist is a specialized veterinarian who focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of dental diseases and conditions in animals. They perform dental procedures such as cleanings, extractions, and oral surgeries to improve the oral health and well-being of pets and other animals.


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Doctor Allergist Anesthesiologist Cardiologist Cardiothoracic Surgeon Colorectal Surgeon Dentist Dermatologist Emergency Medicine Physician Endocrinologist Family Practitioner Forensic Pathologist Gastroenterologist Geriatrician Gynecologist Hematologist Hospitalist Immunologist Infectious Disease Specialist Internist Medical Examiner Naturopathic Physician Nephrologist Neurologist Neurosurgeon Obstetrician Occupational Physician Oncologist Ophthalmologist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Orthopedic Surgeon Orthopedist Orthodontist Osteopath Otolaryngologist Pathologist Pediatrician Periodontist Plastic Surgeon Podiatrist Prosthodontist Psychiatrist Pulmonologist Radiologist Rheumatologist Sports Medicine Physician Surgeon Urologist Vascular Medicine Specialist Vascular Surgeon Chiropractic Neurologist Veterinary Dentist Telemedicine Physician

Pros and Cons of being a Chiropractor

While there are many benefits to becoming a chiropractor, there are also some challenges to consider. Here are some pros and cons of being a chiropractor:


  • Helping People: Chiropractors have the opportunity to positively impact the health and well-being of their patients by providing hands-on care for conditions such as back pain, neck pain, and musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Autonomy: Many chiropractors have the flexibility to set their own schedules and manage their own practices, allowing for a degree of autonomy and independence in their work.
  • Growing Demand: With an increasing focus on alternative and holistic healthcare approaches, there is a growing demand for chiropractic services, providing opportunities for job stability and growth.
  • Diverse Career Paths: Chiropractors can choose to work in a variety of settings, including private practices, multidisciplinary clinics, sports medicine facilities, and corporate wellness programs, allowing for diverse career paths and opportunities for specialization.


  • Educational Requirements: Becoming a chiropractor requires extensive education and training, including completion of a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree program, which typically takes four years to complete, followed by licensure exams and ongoing continuing education requirements.
  • Financial Investment: The cost of obtaining a chiropractic education and setting up a practice can be substantial, including tuition expenses, licensure fees, and the cost of establishing and maintaining a practice.
  • Physical Demands: Chiropractic work often involves prolonged periods of standing and performing manual adjustments on patients, which can be physically demanding and lead to musculoskeletal strain or injury.
  • Regulatory Challenges: Chiropractors must adhere to state regulations and licensing requirements, which can vary widely and may impose limitations on scope of practice or insurance reimbursement rates.
  • Patient Challenges: Some patients may have misconceptions about chiropractic care or may not respond favorably to treatment, leading to challenges in patient education, communication, and satisfaction.

Chiropractors are also known as:
Chiropractic Doctor