As some of you might already know, my husband is a chiropractor. And as the wife of a chiropractor I am constantly explaining to people what he does. The questions usually arrive when I mention how much school he had to attend. Honestly, I think most people are surprised that chiropractors need 7.5 years of college, because they believe all they do is "crack people's backs" and give massages.
I don't blame them for this. Honestly, I wasn't sure what else chiropractors did besides adjust before I married one (well he was an aspiring chiropractor at that point). I also didn't realize how much schooling and work it took to become one. So, in honor of Dwayne, excuse me, Dr. Golbek, starting his practice at Tensegrity Chiropractic this month I'm going to share some things that you might not know about chiropractors.
Chiropractors are Doctors.
Maybe this one is obvious, but maybe not. Chiropractors receive a doctorate degree for all of their education. They are required to complete a bachelor's degree (4 years of college) and then 3.5 - 4.5 years of chiropractic school (depending on whether they attend summer semesters). During their schooling they complete an insane amount of credit hours (I think Dwayne was in 42 credit hours one semester--not sure how we survived, but it was crazy). They take classes in physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, nutrition, etc. (all the human sciences). Then of course they take specialized classes like OBGYN, pharmacology, geriatrics, physical therapy, X-ray diagnosis, and the list goes on and on.
On top of the classes, chiropractic students complete a year of clinicals, assessing, diagnosing and treating patients under the supervision of licensed doctors. Their education and training culminates in taking 4 different board examinations. Once they graduate and pass boards they receive a doctorate in chiropractic and from there, obtain state licensure before practicing.
They are Conservative Care Providers
Chiropractors practice conservative care, meaning they provide noninvasive treatment for pain and injury, a.k.a they do not prescribe medication or perform surgeries. Chiropractors utilize spinal manipulations (adjustments), soft tissue work, physical rehabilitative exercises, lifestyle counseling, eastern medicine, and other approaches to treat pain and injury. This is attractive for many people. If you can find a way to heal and recover without medicine or surgery that's more money and time in your pocket, not to mention, it's easier on your body.
For example, during his clinicals, I remember Dwayne had a patient who was considering a major surgery for her injury. She was 10. Through conservative care she was able to regain complete function and forgo surgery -- definitely a win if I'm her parent.
Not All Chiropractors are the same
Chiropractors are licensed and trained to do a lot of things. For instance, you can have your physical done by a chiropractor, x-rays taken and even labs drawn. That's not to say that every doctor does all of these things. Just like other medical professions, chiropractors specialize.
Different specialties include pediatric and pregnancy, sports rehabilitation, and geriatrics to name a few. Doctors who specialize might obtain a master's degree and/or attend classes and seminars (continuing education) throughout their career to obtain specialties. This is why when people tell me that, "chiropractic just doesn't work for me," I often encourage them to try a different doctor who specializes in their area of concern.
They do a lot more than adjusting
Chiropractors are trained to assess patients, diagnose them and treat them--or refer them to the appropriate provider (this is a huge part of their education). As I've talked about above, they utilize several different techniques with many doctors specializing.
For example, Dwayne specializes in sports injuries and rehabilitation. He assesses his patients' movement patterns and muscular strengths and weaknesses and treats those movement patterns/muscles that are causing pain and injury. He uses joint adjustments, soft tissue work like cupping, taping, myofascial release, and trigger point therapy to get the patient out of pain and promote recovery. After getting their pain under control, he teaches patients how to move correctly through rehabilitative exercises so that the injury/pain doesn't reoccur. He also practices acupuncture and other eastern medicine techniques, because when it comes to getting a patient better different things work for different people.
Personally, I really fell in love with chiropractic treatment while pregnant (it helped that I didn't have to leave home to get it). If you've been pregnant chances are you've experienced some aches and pains and potentially some pretty sharp sciatic area pain. Most of the advice I got from other people was somewhere along the lines of "it'll go away when the baby comes, just wait it out" but seeing a chiropractor who was trained in treating pregnant women (the hubs) made a world of difference -- I'm talking from pain every time I moved my leg, down to no pain in a few treatments--not after the baby came.
Moral of the story, there is a great deal of work that goes into becoming a chiropractor, and there is much more that they do and treat than most people realize. Hopefully you learned something new! If you did, make sure to tell someone--knowledge is power, plus I don't want to have to keep on explaining forever ;)