Chiropractors are medical doctors who work exclusively with the human musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Chiropractic therapy is an alternative form of body healing that does not involve drugs or surgery. It includes a variety of manual and nonmanual techniques, such as spinal manipulation and trigger-point therapy. You must receive a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree, pass the national board exam and become licensed in your state before pursuing further education to earn a diplomate (advanced) status in a specialized field of chiropractic therapy. Below are examples of different fields of work you can pursue as a chiropractor.
As a chiropractic orthopedic, you will specialize in treating bones, muscles, joints and tendons that are affected by injury, defects, lesions or diseases. Common chiropractic treatments you will use include the following: manipulative procedures, exercise, ultrasound, massage, electrical muscle stimulation and rehabilitation. To become a chiropractic orthopedist, you must receive further education after you receive your D.C. degree. You must then pass a practical and written exam from a chiropractic institution that is accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE). The final step to receive your official diplomate status is to pass the certification exam given by the he American Board of Chiropractic Orthopedics (ABCO).
Chiropractic neurology involves treating musculoskeletal health problems associated with the central nervous system and brain-based neurological disorders. You will treat conditions such as headaches, vertigo, head injury, attention disorders and developmental disorders. You will use noninvasive techniques, such as manual adjustments, breathing exercises, eye exercises and cognitive exercises. To become a chiropractic neurologist, you must complete more than 300 hours of coursework from a CCE-accredited institution and pass its practical and written exam, as well as pass the certification exam given by the American Chiropractic Neurology Board (ACNB).
In the field of chiropractic sports medicine, you will treat injuries and conditions common to athletes, such as sprains, Achilles tendonitis and torn ACLs of the knee. Common chiropractic techniques you will use include the following: stretching exercises, thermotherapy, massage therapy, active release techniques, manipulations and re-educational exercises. You can achieve certification from the Diplomate American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians by completing more than 300 hours of coursework and successfully completing the following four components: written exam, practical exam, practical experience requirements and written requirement project.
As a chiropractic radiologist, you will use advanced technological imaging devices--such as ultrasonography, plain film radiography, digital radiography and magnetic resonance imaging--to evaluate and diagnose abnormalities of the human anatomy. Most of your time will be spent providing consultation services to other doctors and recommending certain clinical treatments. You can achieve certification from the American Chiropractic Board of Radiology (ACBR) by successfully completing its two-part certification exam.
Other Fields and Alternative Careers
Besides the specialties listed above, several additional chiropractic fields are available in which you can pursue a career, such as radiology, applied chiropractic sciences, family practice, industrial consulting, internal disorders and pediatrics. Also, you can choose from several related medical fields if you want an alternative career, including physical therapy, massage therapy, occupational therapy, medicine, surgery and podiatry.