Chiropractic is a health care profession that is focussed on neuromusculoskeletal health, that is, the joints and muscles, and the nervous system that controls them. Chiropractors have a specilaized approach to the examination, diagnosis and treatment of pain in these areas, with focus on back and neck pain and their related problems, based on best available research and clinical evidence with particular emphasis on the relationship between the spine and the nervous system.

Effectiveness, often allowing patients avoid drugs and/or surgery, and their potential side effects, and patient satisfaction, are two of the main factors that have prompted this health care profession to flourish and spread around the world, to become the world's third largest professional-degree health care discipline.

Chiropractors provide manual treatments, that is to say, by using their hands, utilizing procedures such as chiropractic adjustments, manipulation, soft-tissue therapy and also take a holistic approach, emphasizing the body's self-healing ability, the mind-body relationship in health, and the patient's responsibility for their health through changes in lifestyle habits.

Chiropractors undergo a lengthy and rigourous course of training which is equivalent in duration and analogous in scope to basic medical or dental programmes, but with an emphasis on the musculoskeletal system and biomechanics - the application of physics principles to human movement. These courses are internationally accreditted, and the chiropractic degree is recognized by registration bodies in many countries in all world regions.

Chiropractic care is suitable for all age groups. Safety and effectiveness has been demonstrated in patients from infants to the elderly.

Chiropractic Education

It is important to make sure your chiropractor is a graduate of an accredited chiropractic institution. Chiropractic is recognized by WHO as a separate and distinct profession; it is not a medical or dental qualification.

Chiropractic has an internationally recognized profession with a single high standard of education. This level of training is upheld by the World Health Organization (WHO) in its monograph, "WHO Guidelines on Basic Training and Safety in Chiropractic", and these are currently being updated under WHO as new benchmarks for the profession.

In countries where there is registration of the profession, the titles chiropractor, chiropractic physician of chiropractic all indicate that a person is the holder of a chiropractic degree from an accredited, professional degree-granting programme in a tertiary or post-tertiary institution. This course would be a minimum of 5 +1 years of university in the Oxford educational system, or 4 +1 years of graduate professional school, after university, in the North American system, of similar scope and duration as a basic medical or dental degree.

Often, in unregulated jurisdictions, especially when traditional-practice bone-setting is translated into English, people who do not have Chiropractic training use the words chiropractor or chiropractic as a generic term describing the joint manipulation or even massage that they provide. Because of this "training gap" the difference in the level of ability in differential diagnosis between these groups can be substantial, and often, knowing when not to initiate a course of treatment is more important than knowing how to manipulate a joint.

The Chiropractic profession has its own independent body to certify training programmes as meeting the world standard, the Council of Chiropractic Education - International (CCE-I).See http://www.cceintl.org.

Persons wishing to undertake chiropractic training should also be aware that in Asia there are unscrupulous entrepreneurs who run short, sub-standard, unaccredited courses for a quick profit, that will leave them ill-prepared to provide safe care to the public. It is important for prospective students to seek out CCE-I programmes.