A Day in the Life of a Chiropractor

If you’re looking for a truly hands-on health career, chiropractic may be for you. Chiropractors see patients in a variety of settings, from solo to group practices. A growing number of chiropractors are practicing in hospital and military settings.

But what do they do in a day? Chiropractors can see anywhere from 20 to 50 patients a day. Each patient will be given a medical diagnostic assessment together with chiropractic diagnostic procedures designed to identify forms of joint dysfunction. All this will be entered into the patient’s medical record – many chiropractors are using electronic health records.

Once the examinations have occurred and a diagnosis is made, options are discussed with the patients and then informed consent for treatment is obtained. Patients will receive a chiropractic adjustment, the primary treatment tool used by chiropractors and what makes the profession unique.

There are numerous “systems” of chiropractic technique. The average chiropractor may use up to six of them in practice. Most use a “full-spine approach,” adjusting the part of the spine directed by their diagnosis. The most common procedure used is known as “diversified technique,” based on assessing positional distortions in the spine, both via static and motion palpation. Chiropractors also use passive and active forms of adjunctive procedures. Passive procedures include use of ice or heat packs, massage or trigger point therapy; active care includes exercise and rehabilitation procedures. Nutritional and advice about posture is also common.

Every few visits the patient will likely be re-examined. Referral to other healthcare providers, medical or other, may be recommended. Collaboration in the community is an increasing part of chiropractic practice.

Most chiropractic patients are between the ages of 31-64. It’s not always an injury or illness that brings a patient to seek chiropractic help. Many people are interested in continuing good health and wellness.

Some practices focus their work on care of pediatric or geriatric patients. There are a number of specialty areas in which chiropractors practice:

  • Sports Chiropractic: Sports chiropractic is an exciting and growing specialty area in the profession. Chiropractors can be found on most professional sports teams. Chiropractors have worked at recent Olympics.
  • Chiropractic Pediatrics: Another quickly growing area of specialization involves the care of pregnant women and of children. Care can begin prenatally by caring for the pregnant mom-to-be. Pediatric care considers the growing bones and musculoskeletal system of the neonate, the infant, the toddler and the adolescent.
  • Radiology: Some chiropractors opt to take additional training to become radiologists. This requires an additional 3 years of training and passing a certifying examination. Those involved become expert in reading both plain film radiographs as well as advanced imaging modalities such as MRI or CT.
  • Workplace Settings: Some chiropractors work in occupational settings, assessing the workplace and reducing the factors affecting worker safety and health. They can have a major role in worker rehabilitation after injury, reducing days lost to disability.
  • Hospital Settings: Given the growing research demonstrating the safety and effectiveness, as well as cost effectiveness, of chiropractic care, more chiropractors are becoming partners with other health professionals in hospitals, including military health centers. This allows for the better integration of health care delivery and services, particularly in orthopedic practice and pain management.
  • Academia: Of course, many chiropractors work in educational settings. There are close to 1000 faculty members at U.S. chiropractic colleges as teachers in life sciences, clinical sciences and clinical education. Some move into administration, helping to develop curriculum, others conduct research full-time.

Clearly, there are many career options for chiropractors. You can enter general practice and take care of the community’s health, or specialize in pediatrics, internal disorders, rehabilitation, radiology, sports, orthopedics, and so on. Join us!