Exactly What Is A Chiropractor?

Many have probably been to a chiropractor before, and left feeling amazing, but have you ever asked yourself “what is a chiropractor?”

Chiropractors are also known as doctors of chiropractic or chiropractic physicians.  The main practices of a chiropractor are to diagnose and treat health problems of the musculoskeletal system (muscles, bones, joints, bursa, ligaments, and tendons) and the effects of those problems on the nervous system and general health.

Chiropractors treat problems ranging from headaches to foot pain, from posture problems to sports injuries, from arthritis to growing pains and from birth injuries to injuries caused by car accidents. What is a chiropractor doing to help with these problems? The primary tool of a chiropractor is their hands – the manipulation of the joints and soft tissue. An article on Spine-health.com goes a little further into detail to answer your question of ‘what is a chiropractor?’

What is a Chiropractor?

By: Steven G. Yeomans, DC

When accidents, falls, tension, over-exertion or other injuring mechanisms occur, the inability of the spine to compensate can result in minor displacements or derangement of one or more vertebrae, causing irritation to spinal nerve roots directly by pressure or indirectly through reflexes, and requiring consultation with a chiropractor.

Chiropractors are trained health professionals who use a variety of non-surgical treatments, such as spinal manipulation and mobilization, to treat patients with:

  • Lower back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Repetitive strains
  • Headaches
  • Sports injuries
  • Car accident injuries
  • Arthritic pain.11

While primarily focusing on treating neuromusculoskeletal disorders, chiropractors are not exclusively limited to problems with the nervous system and musculoskeletal system.

Chiropractors: Fundamental Beliefs and Goals

The treatment concept of chiropractic is to re-establish normal spinal mobility, which in turn alleviates the irritation to the spinal nerve and/or re-establishes altered reflexes.

Chiropractors focus on the intimate relationship between the nervous system and spine, and hold true the following beliefs:

  • Biomechanical and structural derangement of the spine can affect the nervous system
  • Chiropractic treatments can restore the structural integrity of the spine, reduce pressure on the sensitive neurological tissue, and consequently improve the health of the individual.

Most chiropractors seek to reduce pain and improve the functionality of patients as well as to educate them on how they can account for their own health via exercise, ergonomics and other therapies to treat back pain.

Chiropractic Examination and Areas of Training

All health care providers, including chiropractic clinics, use a standard procedure of examination to diagnose a patient’s condition in order to arrive at a plan of treatment. Chiropractors use many of the same time-honored methods used throughout the various health care professions, including:

  • Consultation
  • Case history
  •  Physical examination
  • Laboratory analysis
  • X-ray studies

Therefore, the patient usually perceives very little difference comparing an initial chiropractic consultation to a medical consultation. However, the chiropractic exam of the spine to evaluate structure and function, and the treatment focus on the spine separates chiropractic from other health care disciplines.

Chiropractors are typically trained in multiple methods of assessing and treating back pain, including:

  • Evaluation and management services.13 Chiropractors are trained in examining the joints, bones, muscles and tendons of the spine, head, neck, extremities and other areas of the body with the purpose of noting any misalignment, tenderness, asymmetry, defects or other problems.
  • Neurologic and other common physical examination procedures.13  Chiropractors are trained to perform a variety of neurologic tests (nerve root compression/tension, motor strength, coordination, deep tendon and pathological reflexes, etc.) and are skilled in performing orthopedic, cardiovascular and many other common examinations.
  • Specialized assessment.13 Chiropractors are specially trained to assess range of motion, stability, muscle strength, muscle tone and other assessments with the lower back.
  •  Common diagnostic studies.13 Chiropractors have a firm understanding of diagnostic studies and tools like radiography (X-rays), laboratory diagnostics and neurodiagnostics that may be incorporated into their chiropractic care.


11.   Globe G, Morris C, Whalen W et al. Chiropractic Management of Low Back Disorders.

12.   Palmer DD. The Science, Art, and Philosophy of Chiropractic.

13.  Globe G, Morris C, Whalen W et al. Chiropractic Management of Low Back Disorders.

Along with their hands, chiropractic treatments that chiropractors recognize for their patients are based on factors that affect their health including exercise, diet, rest, environment and heredity. Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables, and she wasn’t lying! The proper nutrition, diet, and sleep habits that chiropractors, such as Dr. Francis DeFalco, educate on can help prevent injuries. Dr. DeFalco has attended multiple chiropractic seminars where he is able to share his knowledge, as well as offers health tips to his fans on his Facebook page.

The treatment you receive from a chiropractor is natural, drugless, and nonsurgical. These chiropractic treatments may also sometimes overlap with manual-therapy professions such as massage therapy, osteopathy, and physical therapy. From these chiropractic treatments, discomfort is rarely caused. Patients may experience some mild soreness following their chiropractic treatment which usually resolves within 12-48 hours.

So next time you are having some lower back pains, or really any body pains for that matter, you know you can contact a local chiropractor since you know what a chiropractor is!