Chiropractors are doctors that specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing conditions of the neuromusculoskeletal system including the bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Chiropractors correct misalignments of the skeletal system and help alleviate pain in patients.
Currently, there are about 45,000 chiropractors in the United States.
Students who want to become chiropractors must earn an undergraduate degree in a field of science or earn at least 90 hours of credits in a science undergraduate program. Future chiropractors must go on to complete a 4-year postgraduate professional degree in chiropractic and earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree.
Chiropractors can choose to complete additional studies and earn a specialty certificate in:
- Chiropractic pediatrics
- Chiropractic physical and therapeutic rehabilitation
- Chiropractic acupuncture
- Diagnosis and internal disorders
- Diagnostic imaging
- Occupational health
- Sports physician
Chiropractors can also choose to earn a masters degree in a related topic like nutrition or sports medicine.
All states require chiropractors to have a medical license. Generally, chiropractors must have a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree, but individual states may have additional requirements for licensure.
Chiropractors must also pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam which include general clinical guidelines and knowledge along with state-specific laws.
Where Chiropractors Work
Most chiropractors work in solo or group practices, but some work out of hospitals and physician offices.
How Chiropractors Help People
Chiropractors treat patients with a variety of musculoskeletal conditions relating to the skeleton and nervous systems. Chiropractors use natural non-invasive and drugless treatments to help the body heal and they work to reduce pain in patients. Chiropractors focus specifically on conditions of the spine.
Chiropractors will perform a complete physical examination on patients, and will talk to patients about their medical history and about any concerns or symptoms they have. Chiropractors will assess acute and chronic conditions of the nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons and will analyze the patient's posture. They may order diagnostic tests like x-rays or other imaging scans.
Chiropractors use a holistic approach to patient care, and will also assess other factors that could cause problems like psychological and social factors.
Neuromusculoskeletal conditions commonly treated by chiropractors include:
- Joint trauma
- Non-infectious inflammatory disorders of the joints, muscles, and ligaments
- Degenerative conditions of the joints
- Repetitive motion injuries
The most common treatment chiropractors provide is manual manipulation and adjustment to restore a normal range of function to a joint, muscle, or ligament. During these treatments, chiropractors will use their hands to manipulate and massage the spine and other parts of the musculoskeletal system. Manual manipulation is intended to provide temporary pain relief.
Chiropractors also perform alignments when patients need adjustment to the neck, spine, or pelvis. Patients who suffered a trauma, like a car accident, may see a chiropractor to readjust shoulders, hips, and vertebrae.
Chiropractors also provide a variety of other treatments to their patients including:
- Cold therapy
- Physical therapy
- Emergency treatment
- Supports like shoe inserts or braces
Chiropractors will also advise patients about lifestyle changes that can help improve the musculoskeletal system including stress management, nutrition, and exercise.
When patients need medication, the chiropractor will refer the patient to another doctor.
The average salary of chiropractors is $66,720.
Chiropractic Negligence In Baltimore
When a patient is injured as the result of a chiropractor's failure to provide reasonable care, the chiropractor may be held liable for damages.
Common forms of chiropractic medical malpractice include:
Failure to diagnose a medical condition that requires timely attention
Chiropractors focus on conditions of the musculoskeletal system, but sometimes they see patients whose symptoms have more serious origins. A patient with leg soreness may actually be experiencing a blocked blood vessel, and a patient with neck pain may have a serious brain condition. Though chiropractors are not trained to diagnose these other conditions, they should get enough information from the patient's physical examination and health history to know when a condition needs attention from another doctor.
Negligent manipulation occurs when chiropractors use too much force or incorrect treatments on a musculoskeletal condition resulting in an actual worsening of the condition.
When a chiropractor uses negligent manipulation of the patient's neck and vertebrae, the chiropractor can block the supply of blood to the patient's head and cause a blood clot and a reduced flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
Since chiropractors are not fully trained medical doctors, patients should be advised to visit their own doctor with serious issues before visiting a chiropractor. A primary care physician can refer patients to chiropractors if patients want non-invasive alternative treatments, but a chiropractor cannot refer patients to other doctors with specific specialties. Chiropractors can only know when an underlying condition may be present.
Maryland Chiropractic Malpractice Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury while under the care of a chiropractor, you need to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. You may be eligible for compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian have a track record of success in defending victims of malpractice across Maryland. We will not charge any attorney fees until you get the compensation you deserve.
Call (800) 529-6162 today to begin your case and to learn more about your legal options.