Does a Body Good

Feeling Aches and Pains? Chiropractors Have Your Back

By Josh McFadden

March 12, 2014

Sometimes, life can be a pain in the neck.

Whether it be from a sports injury or from an accident, or if it’s just Father Time catching up to us, discomfort in the back or neck can be debilitating and hamper our daily activities. If you are suffering from pain or other ailments, is a chiropractic physician the right healthcare provider to turn to?

What is a Chiropractor?

In Utah, these practitioners are known as chiropractic physicians, but are usually called doctors of chiropractic in other parts of the country. “Chiropractic physicians, under the law, are trained, licensed and can treat some health conditions,” says Tim Apgood, executive director of Utah Chiropractic Physicians Association.

Apgood says somewhere between 900 and 1,000 chiropractors hold active licenses in Utah, meaning this health resource is abundantly available.What is their Training?

Typically, chiropractic physicians obtain a doctorate degree of four years of post-graduate study. There are 18 accredited chiropractic schools in the United States, all of which require a prerequisite of 90 semester hours. Prerequisite courses consist of those in the biological, chemical and physical sciences, including chemistry, biochemistry, nutrition, physics, microbiology, and human anatomy and physiology.

Once in a doctoral program, a prospective chiropractor can expect to follow a comprehensive and demanding coursework regimen. The first three years usually require courses such as neuroscience, histology, pathology, pharmacotoxicology, dermatology and geriatrics, among many other possibilities. The fourth year of study typically requires an extensive internship of around 1,000 hours.

Upon completion of the program, chiropractors must pass an exam in the state in which they wish to practice.

A chiropractor you would visit in Utah undergoes widespread preparation, says Apgood.

“After completing a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, passing four separate National Boards exams, taking and passing a state of Utah test, and obtaining a license as a chiropractic physician in Utah, a chiropractic physician must complete 40 hours of approved continuing education every two years to keep their license current.”

What Conditions can they Treat?

Chiropractors are most known for treating musculoskeletal conditions. Some of these include upper-, lower- and middle-back pain and stiffness, whiplash, carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerves and muscles spasms, as well as neck pain and neck pain radiating into the arms. They can also help with tingling, numbness and weakness in the legs and arms. And as for the dreaded headaches and migraines, chiropractors can treat and alleviate those as well.

“It really depends on how you want your healthcare approached,” Apgood says. “For musculoskeletal conditions, the most common cause is soft tissue injury—displacement (even subtle) creating pressure on spinal nerves, causing dysfunction of the nerve and the area of the body it serves.”

The large scope of a chiropractor’s abilities also includes care for allergies and for chronic ear infections in young children. A number of other medical conditions with which a qualified chiropractor can help include tendonitis, scoliosis, arthritis, asthma, respiratory infection, multiple sclerosis, gastrointestinal issues and many others.

During the course of a visit or assessment, a chiropractor may refer a patient to another doctor or specialist, depending on the condition.

Chiropractors can also treat the symptoms that accompany accidents and injuries. These may be auto accidents or injuries sustained in the workplace through falls or by lifting heavy or awkward objectives. Chiropractors also work with patients who have injured themselves playing sports.

Chiropractors are most concerned about discovering what has led to certain health conditions, rather than intervening with medication, says Apgood. “A chiropractic physician is more typically viewed as dealing with the causes of health problems versus dispensing prescription drugs to address the symptoms.”

Many chiropractic offices give a thorough physical exam to new patients. Subsequent visits, depending on the nature of the treatment and conditions and symptoms being addressed, are often an hour less. This is good news for busy professionals whose time may be limited.

“Depending on whether you are a new or established patient, visits may be quick,” Apgood says. “For instance, could a busy executive stop by the office during his or her lunch break, or make an appointment without having to be away from work for too long? For an established patient, most often yes, depending on the services sought and/or needed.”

What can they NOT Do?

“In Utah, a chiropractic physician may not set a displaced fracture, practice obstetrics, treat cancer, administer drugs or medicines for which an authorized prescription is required by law, or perform incisive surgery,” says Apgood.

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