A chiropractor is a practitioner of chiropractic. Chiropractors use their hands to treat disorders of the muscles, bones, and joints. They are primarily concerned with diagnosing, treating and preventing mechanical musculoskeletal problems, that is, the way that the body moves. Chiropractic is therefore part of the family of ‘manual therapies’. Chiropractors use a range of techniques, but often focus on manipulation of the spine. Many only provide treatment for back and neck disorders, and there is very good evidence for the effectiveness of manual therapy, including spinal manipulation, against persistent lower back pain. Other chiropractors are happy to treat a much wider range of conditions although the evidence of effectiveness is much more limited.
Chiropractic is one of two complementary and alternative medicines that operate under regulation, the other being osteopathy. Chiropractors are regulated by the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), which means that it is illegal for someone to call themselves a chiropractor unless they are registered with the GCC. The GCC only accepts registration from practitioners who have certain qualifications, and undertake to abide by its code of practice.
You may be referred to a chiropractor after an accident or if you are experiencing pain in your back, neck, muscles or joints. This pain may be new or persistent. If you have previously been diagnosed with a condition such as sciatica or fibromyalgia, you may need to regularly see a chiropractor to manage your symptoms. You may also see a chiropractor if you seek to gain lifestyle advice to prevent injury or damage to the muscoskeletal system.