Well first let us talk about what it takes to become a chiropractor. To get into chiropractic school, you have to have your pre-requisites done which most get a bachelor’s degree in some kind of pre-health field like biology, kinesiology, chemistry, and etc. After you have this done then you can apply and most chiropractic schools have you submit your transcript and then you usually have to write an essay on why you want to attend. Then after you have been accepted into the program it usually takes 3 ½ to 4 yrs to complete the program. Most chiropractic programs have a 10-trimester program, and a trimester lasts about 3 to 4 months, so you have 3 trimesters in a yr. Each trimester a student takes around 25-28 credit hrs of classes. Over the 4 yr program a student can have taken up to 300 credit hrs or more. During the first 1-2 yrs classes focus on the basic sciences like human anatomy, cell phys, microbiology, neurology, biochemistry, etc. Also, during that time students are in technique classes learning how to adjust and feel the motion of the spine. After the first 1-2 yrs the program gets into more of the diagnostic material and how to perform exams and treat certain conditions. For example, physical diagnosis, Musculoskeletal diagnosis, pediatrics, geriatrics, X-ray imaging and case management. At Cleveland Chiropractic College by the time you get to Trimester 7 you enter in the student clinic where you work on students and adjust them and perform physicals in the student clinic. At Cleveland in the middle of Trimester 8 if you have done all your requirements and hit your numbers to move on you get to now treat patients in the Outpatient clinic located at Cleveland Chiropractic College.
Now that I have explained what is required to become a chiropractor, I will talk about what chiropractic is and what a chiropractor does because some can be confused on what it is they do because they have never been to one before or they heard a rumor about it from someone. Chiropractic is a health profession that focuses on treating musculoskeletal conditions by affecting the nervous system, muscles, and other organs. Chiropractic does focus on a drug free and hands on approach ( this does not mean we hate drugs, but we leave that expertise to pharmacologists and medical doctors, I believe all health professionals need to work together and I have great respect for MD’s, PT’s, Dentists, and other health professionals). As you may have heard chiropractors treat back pain and neck pain. You may have heard them called the “spine doctor” or “back cracker”, but a chiropractic is so much more than that. Chiropractic can help treat other conditions like carpel tunnel, knee meniscus injury, ankle sprain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, or they may treat an athlete to help them stay injury free and help them perform better. Also, many chiropractors have knowledge and know about nutrition and can give nutritional and some exercise advice.
So, let us talk about what a typical daily encounter may be like for a new patient coming into our chiropractic office for your typical low back pain. First you will have to fill out a health history report so that I know your whole health history and can manage your treatment based on what I know. When you come in, I will ask you some questions about what caused your back pain, how bad it hurts, what movements make it hurt, what makes it better, and so on. Then I will run through some orthopedic tests to find out what is causing your back pain whether it is your muscles, your joints in your spine, or if it is below your back and a weakness in your hips. I may also do some physical exams like checking your heart, abdomen, and other things to rule out any contraindications to adjusting and make sure an organ is not causing a referral pain to your back. After all of that I will explain to you what I found and most likely will start treatment.
Let us talk about what an adjustment is and what a chiropractor is looking for when they are feeling your spine. First when a patient comes into our clinic, I feel for tight muscles, restricted motions in the spine, and any postural abnormalities. So when chiropractors adjust or do manipulation is another term used they look for “subluxations” this word is debated among different health professionals, but to me I look for areas that don’t move well in your spine that should have movement. When I find a spot that does not move well, I will give a quick “thrust” that will put motion into that spot that was not moving. This is called an “adjustment or manipulation” and is safe and usually feels good. Sometimes you may hear a “cracking” sound, this is not your bones breaking LOL, but it is gas that is releasing the joint. It is just like when someone will pop their knuckles. Along with adjustments I use different techniques to help release those tight muscles and get you moving better. Also, I may send you home with some exercises and stretches to help speed up your recovery and keep you healthy.
I hope that this blog better informed you about what chiropractic is and what chiropractors do. If you have any questions or comments please send them my way, I would be happy to answer them.
Thanks for Reading!