Chiropractor

Community and Health

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Practical or MechanicalHelping or advisingAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 5

Chiropractors diagnose and treat patients by triggering the body's inherent recuperative abilities, alleviating health problems related to the nervous and skeletal systems, particularly the spine, Future Growth Very Strong without the use of drugs or surgery.

They would research a patient's details, carry out a physical examination and use and interpret diagnostic images, such as x-rays, before attempting to adjust a patient’s spine.


ANZSCO ID & description: 2521: Diagnoses and treats physiological and mechanical disorders of the human locomotor system, particularly neuromuscular skeletal disorders, and provides advice on preventing these disorders. Registration or licensing is required.

Alternative names: Chiropractic Physician

Specialisations: Extremity Work, Paediatric Chiropractor, Sports Chiropractor

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A chiropractor needs:

  • to enjoy working with people

  • a reasonable level of physical fitness and agility

  • to enjoy health sciences

  • good interpersonal skills

  • to be able to think and work independently.

Chiropractor with patient
(Source: Career Explorer)


Duties and Tasks

As a chiropractor, you would use your hands, rather than medication or surgery, to treat disorders of bones, muscles and joints. You would use a range of methods, but would particularly focus on manipulation of the spine.

Your clients may be experiencing discomfort as a result of an accident, stress, illness or lack of exercise. The most common problems you would treat include:

  1. neck, back and shoulder pain

  2. sciatica and leg problems

  3. issues surrounding sports injuries

  4. poor posture and associated joint and muscle pain.

Some chiropractors may also work with clients suffering with migraine or asthma.

 

Chiropractors may perform the following tasks:

  • administer a variety of neurological, musculoskeletal and functional tests to identify and assess physical problems and ailments of patients

  • write down patients' case history details, conduct physical examinations and interpret diagnostic imaging studies such as X-rays

  • planning and discussing effective management of patients' dysfunction

  • adjust patients' spine or other joints to correct joint dysfunctions interfering with proper nervous system control and integration of body function

  • treat patients by adjusting the spinal column to manipulate joints and soft tissues

  • designing, reviewing, monitoring, assessing and evaluating treatment programs

  • assisting and improving the function of all body systems such as musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine and genitourinary systems

  • referring patients to specialists and liaising with other Health Professionals in relation to patients' problems, needs and progress

  • conduct specialised work such as sports chiropractic, paediatrics, diagnostic imaging or various chiropractic techniques

  • educating patients, their partners, family and friends in therapeutic procedures, such as home exercises and lifestyle changes, to enhance patients' health and wellbeing

  • give advice on general health matters such as exercise and nutrition

  • perform pre-employment examinations and workplace assessments

  • provide certificates for insurance and work-related purposes.


Working conditions

Chiropractors generally work standard business hours, Monday to Friday. However, evening or weekend work may also be required. Most chiropractors work in an office environment, typically within a school, hospital, nursing home or community centre. Some chiropractors do go into private practice.

As a chiropractor, you would usually be self-employed, and set your own working hours. To meet the needs of clients, you may need to work some weekends and evenings. If you are based in a medical clinic, you may work standard hours.

You could be based at a health clinic or therapy centre. It would be helpful to have a drivers’ licence as you may carry out treatments at several locations, such as clients' homes or sporting events.

Tools and technologies

Chiropractors need to be able to read x-rays and other diagnostic test results. They may also need to be able to use ultrasound equipment.

 
Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a chiropractor you need to study chiropractic science at university. ​To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, mathematics and biology would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.

Before undertaking clinical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate, immunisations and a Working with Children Check or equivalent. Graduates are required to complete extensive clinical practice before receiving full accreditation. Graduates must be registered with the Chiropractic Board of Australia to practise in any state or territory in Australia.

Employment Opportunities

Employment of chiropractors is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.

Chiropractic treatment of the back, neck, limbs, and involved joints has become more accepted as a result of research and changing attitudes about alternative approaches to healthcare. As a result, chiropractors are increasingly working in hospitals and clinics as part of a team-based model of patient care.
The aging of the large baby-boom generation will lead to new opportunities for chiropractors. Older adults are more likely to have neuromusculoskeletal and joint problems and they are seeking treatment for these conditions more often as they lead longer, more active lives.

Demand for chiropractic treatment is related to the ability of patients to pay, either directly or through health insurance. Although some private health insurance plans cover chiropractic services, the extent of such coverage varies.

Did You Know?

The spinal column – or backbone – is instrumental to the strength, support, flexibility and range of movement our bodies possess.

It’s a complicated structure, with many interconnected and interdependent components.

Scoi-spine


When we’re born, our spines consist of 33 individual vertebrae.

As we age, some of these vertebrae fuse together. The five vertebrae composing our sacrum become one bone and the coccygeal vertebrae – which can vary from three to five bones – fuse together as one. Thus, the tailbone is formed.

You have twelve vertebrae in your thoracic area – the middle portion of the back.You have five vertebrae in your lumbar spine area – the lower back. And the cervical area, or the neck, is comprised of seven individual vertebrae.

Did you know that both humans and long-necked giraffes have seven cervical vertebrae? Impressive given the giraffe’s height; however, this demonstrates well the flexibility and versatility of the spinal structure.

Giraffe neck bones

Another interesting fact about the cervical vertebrae is they’re sometimes referred to as Atlas, referencing the Greek mythological Atlas who was burdened with carrying the world on top of his shoulders (much like the neck supports and carries the weight of the head.)

Over 120 muscles are contained in the spine.

The spinal column includes approximately 220 individual ligaments.These ligaments keep the vertebrae interconnected which is paramount to keeping the spine, as well as the nerves it’s protecting within the spinal cord, stable.

Spine curves

Over 100 joints allow for the spine’s extreme flexibility and range of movement. Did you know, if bent into a circle, nearly two thirds of the shape could be created due to the intricate and flexible formation of the spine?

Over one fourth of the spine’s total length is created from cartilage, the sponge-like substance that separates one vertebral disc from the next. Cartilage can expand and contract.

Interestingly, if gravity is removed (in space travel, for example) a person can return to earth taller than when he or she left. Oppositely, gravity’s pull on our bodies over the years shrinks cartilage, making us decrease in height as we age.
(Source: Georgia Spine & Neurosurgery Center)

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