Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.): Chiropractors diagnose and treat back and neck pain and are considered by definition primary care physicians as they are often the first doctor a patient will visit when experiencing back pain. Chiropractors, also known as doctors of chiropractic or chiropractic physicians, diagnose and treat patients whose health problems are associated with the body's muscular, nervous, and skeletal systems, especially the spine.
Chiropractic education consists of four academic years of chiropractic training, as well as a one-year internship at a college clinic. Successful completion of 2 levels of National Boards is required for chiropractors and a third level for those who use physiologic therapeutics in their practice. Part IV is often used for state licensing and tests knowledge of diagnostic imaging, chiropractic technique, and case management.
The chiropractic profession holds that spinal or vertebral dysfunction alters many important body functions by affecting the nervous system, and that skeletal imbalance through joint or articular dysfunction - especially in the spine - can cause pain and/or dysfunction.
As with all healthcare practitioners, chiropractors follow a standard routine to secure the information needed for diagnosis and treatment. When the source of pain involves musculoskeletal structures, chiropractors manually manipulate or adjust the spinal column. Many chiropractors also use water, light, massage, ultrasound, electric, and heat therapy and may apply supports such as straps, taping and braces. They may also counsel patients about wellness concepts such as nutrition, exercise, lifestyle changes, and stress management, but do not prescribe drugs or perform surgery. When appropriate, chiropractors consult with and refer patients to other health practitioners.
Some chiropractors specialize in orthopedics, sports injuries, neurology, nutrition, internal disorders, and/or diagnostic imaging. Chiropractic is considered an integral part of the back care team as noted in many guidelines published in this and other countries and many chiropractors have joined multidisciplinary spine care practices.