Most healthcare professions are defined by the types of conditions they manage. For example, cardiologists manage heart problems, dermatologists, the skin and so forth. Most people associate doctors of chiropractic with managing conditions related to the spine as well as the procedural technique that chiropractors use most often: spinal adjustments, also known as chiropractic manipulative therapy.


Even though the greatest body of research points to the efficacy of chiropractic adjustments for the treatment of spinal conditions, chiropractors do far more than manipulate the spine. Clinical specialties span the gamut from orthopedic rehabilitation to dietary education and nutritional supplementation. Diversity may be our greatest asset, but for the consumer this can present a challenge in trying to find the chiro-practor that is best suited for their needs.


Chiropractic training is relatively consistent in all 16 accredited programs in the U.S. Specialties develop as a result of postdoctoral pursuits, individual interest and advanced training. In fact chiropractic colleges offer postdoctoral training in orthopedics, neurology, sports injuries, nutrition, rehabilitation, radiology, industrial consulting, family practice, and pediatrics.


When seeking the help of a chiropractor, it helps to do your research in determining who is right for you. Ask friends and family members if they have had a good experience with a doctor of chiropractic in your community. It may also be beneficial to ask your primary treating physician to which chiropractor they refer and why.


Once you have a few names, go to their websites and read about their area of specialty, the facility, philosophy, techniques used and any advanced training. The California Chiropractic Association,, and American Chiropractic Association,, are also great resources.


Before your first visit, prepare questions you would like answered. The evaluation should include a thorough medical history, range of motion and orthopedic testing, and gathering of similar mechanical baselines. It will typically also include x-rays if none have been taken recently. Most chiropractors will provide a written plan of care on the second visit to gain consensus as to the length of time and realistic prognosis before embarking on a course of treatment. This is the best time for open discussion about your proposed care and additional factors that you feel are significant.


My experience tells me that the judicious use of manipulation can offer significant value when used in conjunction with myofascial release, therapeutic exercises and education on proper body mechanics, an approach generally knows as “active care.”


That said, manipulation is not always appropriate for every condition. I’ve always maintained that our profession’s move toward an “active-care” model offers the best chance at sustained results and self-reliance for our patients.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the chiropractic profession will grow “much faster than the average for all occupations,” citing “increasing consumer demand for alternative healthcare.” With the value it presents to the growing number of health-conscious Americans, it is worth doing some initial research to find the right doctor of chiropractic to help improve your quality of life.


— Sevak Khodabakhshian is a doctor of chiropractic with Thousand Oaks-based Omega Rehab & Sport, where a team of physical therapists, chiropractors and athletic trainers applies an active-care approach to healthcare. He can be reached for comments, questions or suggestions by e-mail, at