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Chiropractic physicians diagnose and treat patients whose health problems are associated with the bodys muscular, nervous, and skeletal systems, especially the spine. Chiropractors believe that interference with these systems impairs the bodys normal functions and lowers its resistance to disease. They also hold that spinal or vertebral dysfunction alters many important body functions by affecting the nervous system and that skeletal imbalance through joint, can cause pain. Some chiropractors specialize in sports injuries, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, nutrition, internal disorders, or diagnostic imaging.
Like other health practitioners, chiropractors follow a standard routine to secure the information they need for diagnosis and treatment. They are sometimes on their feet for long periods. Chiropractors who take x rays must employ appropriate precautions against the dangers. Chiropractors generally work in clean, comfortable offices. Their average workweek is about 40 hours, although longer hours are not uncommon. Solo practitioners set their own hours, but may work evenings or weekends to accommodate patients.
They take the patients medical history, conduct physical, neurological, and orthopedic examinations, and may order laboratory tests. X rays and other diagnostic images are important tools because of the chiropractors emphasis on the spine and its proper function. Chiropractors also employ a postural and spinal analysis common to chiropractic diagnosis.
The chiropractic approach to healthcare is holistic. It has a particular stress on the patients overall health and wellness. It recognizes that many factors affect health, including exercise, diet, rest, environment, and heredity. Chiropractors provide natural, drugless, non-surgical health treatments and rely on the bodys inherent recuperative abilities. They also recommend changes in lifestylein eating, exercise, and sleeping habits, for exampleto their patients. When appropriate, chiropractors consult with and refer patients to other health practitioners.
Some chiropractors make use of water, light, massage, ultrasound, electric and heat therapy. They also may apply supports such as straps, tapes, and braces. Chiropractors counsel patients about wellness concepts such as nutrition, exercise, changes in lifestyle, and stress management, but do not prescribe drugs or perform surgery.
Many chiropractors are solo or group practitioners who also have administrative responsibilities of running a practice. In larger offices, chiropractors delegate these tasks to office managers and chiropractic assistants. Chiropractors in private practice are responsible for developing a patient base, hiring employees, and keeping records. Chiropractic requires keen observation to detect physical abnormalities. It also takes considerable manual dexterity, but not unusual strength or endurance, to perform adjustments.