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Education and Careers in Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic General Information
Specialized Study
What type of education do Doctors of Chiropractic receive?
What type of study do Doctors of Chiropractic do in school?
What is the size of the profession?
What are the qualifications and licensing needed to practice chiropractic?
What is the job outlook and growth pattern of the profession?

The future of chiropractic is very bright. Visits to alternative health care providers are increasing at an accelerated rate annually. In addition to the increasing consumer preference for natural health care, which puts chiropractic in a dominant position, new opportunities are opening up for chiropractic in diversified areas such as hospitals, sports, research and corporate industrial settings.

A doctor of chiropractic is a physician whose purpose, as a member of the healing arts, is to help meet the health needs of the public, giving particular attention to the structural and neurological aspects of the body.

The application of science in chiropractic concerns itself with the relationship between structure, primarily the spine, and function primarily coordinated by the nervous system of the human body as that relationship may affect the restoration and preservation of health. Further, this application of science in chiropractic focuses on the inherent ability of the body to heal without the use of drugs or surgery.

The purpose of chiropractic professional education is to provide the doctoral candidate with a core of knowledge in the basic and clinical sciences and related health subjects sufficient for the doctor of chiropractic to perform the professional obligations of a primary care clinician.

As a gatekeeper for direct access to the health delivery system, the doctor of chiropractic's responsibilities as a primary care clinician include wellness promotion, health assessment, diagnosis and the chiropractic management of the patient's healthcare needs. When indicated, the doctor of chiropractic consults with, co-manages, or refers to other healthcare providers.

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Specialized Study:
Logan Basic Technique
The technique is based on light, sustained force exerted against a specific contact point on the sacrum at the base of the spine. Auxiliary contacts at various points in the spine, or along specific muscles such as the piriformus, also can be used. Basic Technique uses the muscular structure surrounding the sacrum as a lever system for balancing the entire structure of the spine.

Specific Diversified Technique
Diversified Technique is the classic chiropractic technique, developed by D.D. Palmer, DC. The focus is on restoration to normal biomechanical function, and orrection of subluxation. In addition, Diversified methods have been developed to adjust extremity joints, allowing for beneficial applications in treating sports injuries and other injuries. Diversified adjusting of the spine uses specific lines of drives for all manual thrusts, allowing for specificity in correcting mechanical distortions of the spine.

Activator Methods
Logan College graduate Arlan Fuhr , DC and the late W.C. Lee, DC developed Activator Methods. Initially, the doctors used thumb thrusts, delivered at rapid rates of speed generated by elbow movement. They developed the Activator instrument to avoid injuries to doctors, resulting from the thumb thrusts, and to ensure consistency from one adjustment to the next. The instrument is patented and was approved in 1984 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for use in adjustive procedures. The spring-loaded instrument is used with a specific line of drive and can be set to deliver force ranging from nine to 33 pounds per square inch. Before an adjustment is administered, leg length checks and isolation tests of joint motion are performed to identify joints to be adjusted, and these tests can be used to check adjustment effectiveness afterwards. Activator Methods adjustments also can be used on extremity joints.

Active Release Technique (ART)
ART® focuses on muscular and soft-tissue problems and based on research indicating that as result of both acute and repetitive injuries, adhesions may develop within muscles and between nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. The adhesions may affect the function of muscles and change the joint motion, resulting in altered biomechanics and a variety of peripheral nerve entrapment. P. Michael Leahy , DC , CCSP, developed ART.® His treat-techniques and teaching methodologies arise from his work in neuromuscular re-education and Myofascial Release. The Law of Repetitive Motion is a unifying concept, designed explain how overuse syndromes arise from a variety of events rid still fit under one paradigm. Practitioners work with various soft tissues in order to restore optimal function through the release of adhesions. The treatment approach is based on assessing the function of each muscle involved in the overuse syndrome. The technique's applications are varied and can include care of athletes, office and factory workers alike for a variety of overuse syndromes.

Applied Kinesiology (AK)
Applied Kinesiology employs a system of muscle testing and assessment of whether certain muscles are found to be consistently weak. Based on this information and patient history, appropriate diagnostic work-ups, including lab work and X-rays, are used. George Goodheart, DC, who developed the technique, identified relationships between certain muscles and the function of corresponding organs. Especially in Europe , some medical doctors and dentists employ AK to supplement diagnostic information. Treatment with Applied Kinesiology includes chiropractic adjustments, using various techniques. Work on affected muscles and reflex systems related to affected muscles, and nutritional programs also may be used. Many practitioners feel that adjusting is easier following AK muscle work, which helps balance the muscles surrounding the spine.

Flexion-Distraction (COX) Technique
The flexion-Distraction adjustive procedure and an adjusting table enhanced and developed by James M. Cox, DC, DACBR, are based on a distractive force (supplied with the contact hand) combined with table motion. The Cox table is designed to restore normal physiological range of motion to the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spinal joints. Flexion-Decompression manipulation is a gentle, non-force adjusting procedure which works with the body's natural design to aid it in healing properly. Additional goals of the flexion-decompression adjustment include transfer of metabolites into the spinal disc, decreasing intradiscal pressures and decompressing inflamed/compressed spinal nerve roots. Three government-funded grants totaling over $2 million dollars have been awarded for the study of this technique.

The Gonstead System
The Gonstead system was developed in 1923 by the late Clarence S. Gonstead, DC. The system uses visual examination, motion and static palpation, instrumentation and full-spine X-rays to determine, with accuracy and precision, where, what, when and how to adjust to obtain specific and consistent results.

The Gonstead system utilizes the full-spine approach with emphasis on the subluxation / compensation mechanism and the level disc concept. Heavy emphasis is placed on differentiating between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and the symptoms related to each. This assists the chiropractor in the quest to find and correct the specific subluxation. Specific equipment, including the Knee Chest, Pelvic Bench, Hylo Tables and the Cervical Chair, is utilized in the application of the adjustive technique.

All chiropractic students are required to learn the Gonstead listing system, which describes body mechanics and the specific direction of vertebral subluxations. This system is included in state and national chiropractic board exams.

Graston Technique
The Graston Technique, originally developed by athletes, is changing the way clinicians including athletic trainers, chiropractors, physical therapists, occupational therapists and patients view treatment of acute and chronic soft tissue injuries. The Graston Technique is an innovative, patented form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that enables clinicians to effectively break down scar tissue and fascial restrictions. The Technique utilizes specially designed stainless steel instruments to specifically detect and effectively treat areas exhibiting soft tissue fibrosis or chronic inflammation.

This high-tech, computerized, analysis and treatment system is enhancing the way Chiropractic is viewed and delivered in today's healthcare environment. The inter-doctor reliability has shown to have the highest degree of accuracy in research and clinical trials.

Sacro-Occipital Technique (SOT)
SOT developer Bertrand DeJarnette, DC, was a wealthy former engineer who used much of his fortune funding research on why chiropractic works. Dr. DeJarnette concluded that structural changes affecting the dura can affect any area of the spine. The dura covers the entire central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord). Dr. DeJarnette based his conclusions in part on the fact that adjusting one segment of the spine may bring about a change in another area of the spine. Additionally, Dr. DeJarnette was interested in research showing that cranial bones move and theorized that structural changes of the cranial bones could affect the movement of cerebrospinal fluid. Thus, SOT addresses positioning of the cranial bones, using a method known as craniopathy. "Blocking," the method preferred by many SOT practitioners for addressing pelvic subluxations, involves blocks placed beneath the pelvis, with the patient lying face-up. The goal is to normalize joint positions on both sides of the spine simultaneously. SOT integrates with other chiropractic systems, allowing for use of a variety of techniques within the SOT system. Practitioners also often provide nutritional counseling to patients.

Soft Tissue Technique
Uses numerous soft tissue approaches that are available to today's DCs; Myofascial Release and Positional Release. Myofascial Release focuses on stretching affected muscles. Certain injuries, such as strains and sprains, involve muscles that already are over-stretched. In such situations, an appropriate method would be Positional Release, which involves addressing trigger points and placing muscle fibers in a position that is more comfortable for the patient. Injuries and scar tissue tend to cause distortions to muscle fiber, which contribute to the patient's discomfort.

Thompson Technique
Developed by Clay Thompson, DC, Thompson Technique uses an adjusting table with a pneumatically driven, segmented drop system, which quickly lowers the section of the patient's body corresponding with the spinal region being adjusted. The doctor thrusts at high speed, using minimal force, because while the thrust initiates movement, the fast drop carries the joint through the remainder of its range of motion. Leg length checks, palpation, X-rays and other appropriate tests are used by the Thompson practitioner in determining where to adjust. Dr. Thompson was the personal physician of chiropractic founder B.J. Palmer, DC. However, unlike the Palmers, Dr. Thompson advocated adjustments addressing any joint dysfunctions, in the spine and in extremities.

Upper Cervical Specific
Upper Cervical-Specific Technique, developed by chiropractic founder D.D. Palmer, DC and refined by his son, B.J. Palmer, DC, focuses on the Atlas Subluxation Complex (ASC). The complex is usually considered to include the three osseous components at the top of the human spine: the Occiput (skull, or CO), the Atlas (Cl) and the Axis (C2). The technique focuses on specific corrections to the structure of the Atlas complex to restore correct structure to it and thus, to promote optimal function of nerves related to the complex. Upper Cervical Specific is a toggle recoil technique, in which the adjustment establishes motion, following the proper line of correction, and the segment finds its natural position innately. Upper Cervical Specific procedures differ from techniques that utilize Gonstead listings in that Upper Cervical's 12 atlas and eight axis listings (misalignments) are compared relative to the foramen magnum (the opening in the bones at the base of the skull).

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What type of education do Doctors of Chiropractic receive?
Four year pre-chiro degree and four year doctorate degree with classroom and laboratory work in basic sciences, diagnosis, treatment procedures, and a clinical internship is required for a degree. Educational requirements for medical doctors and chiropractors in basic and clinical sciences are very similar. Postgraduate continuing education is required annually after a doctor is in practice.

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What type of study do Doctors of Chiropractic do in school?
Chiropractors receive expert knowledge of the body through the study of basic sciences, clinical sciences, body mechanics, and chiropractic techniques. The study of chiropractic emphasizes anatomy, physiology, pathology, neurology, biomechanics, x-ray, and spinal adjusting techniques.

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What is the size of the profession?
Chiropractic is the second largest of the three primary health care providers in the U.S. In their size order, based on number of doctors and public use, they are the medical, chiropractic and osteopathic.

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What are the qualifications and licensing needed to practice chiropractic?
After receiving their Doctor of Chiropractic degree from an accredited institution, all individuals who practice must pass the National Board Examination, and meet their individual states' requirements for licensure. In the State of Kansas, requirements are 4 years of pre-chiro and 4 years of chiro education.

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What is the job outlook and growth pattern of the profession?
In 2000, Forbes, Money Magazine, Newsweek, Time and USA Today listed the chiropractic profession as one of the fastest growing careers  In Feb. 2005, FAST COMPANY magazine rated chiropractic as the fourth fastest-growing occupation in the U.S.   Fueling the need for chiropractors is the rapidly expanding population of senior citizens who continue to increase demand. Chiropractors generally remain in the occupation until they retire, indicating career satisfaction.

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Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (Toronto) -
Cleveland (Kansas City and Los Angeles) -
D'Youville College (Buffalo) -
Life University (Marietta , GA) -
Life West (Sann Lorenzo , CA) -
Logan (Chesterfield , MO) -
National (Lombard , IL) -
New York (Seneca Falls , NY) -
Northwestern (Bloomington , MN) -
Palmer (Davenport , IA and San Jose , CA , Florida) -
Parker (Dallas , TX) -
Sherman (Spartanburg , SC) -
Southern California University of Health Sciences (Whittier , CA) -
Texas (Pasadena , TX) -
Bridgeport (Bridgeport , CT) -
Western States (Portland , OR) -

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