What Type of Education Does a Chiropractor Have?

Educational and licensing requirements for doctors of chiropractic (DCs) are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions. (American Chiropractic Association).


TChronic Pain Resourceso become a chiropractor in the U.S., it is not always required to obtain a bachelor’s degree. However, usually about 90 undergraduate credits are required. It depends on the state. The next requirement is to attend an accredited chiropractic college for a four-year degree. This will typically include about 4,200 hours of classroom, lab work, and clinical internship experience. The number of classroom hours is around the same as the requirements to become a general medical doctor (MD) or osteopath (DO). In some areas of anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation, nutrition and public health, chiropractors receive more intensive education than MD’s. (American Chiropractic Association).

U.S. Certification and Licensing Requirements

Once a person obtains their Doctor of Chiropractic Degree, they need a certification and license to practice. In order to gain a certification, they much pass a national board exam governed by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE). Then, a license must be obtained in the state they would like to practice. In addition, there is usually continuing education yearly to keep the license. Some chiropractors will specialize in sports injuries, geriatrics, or pediatrics. Many chiropractors will also provide naturopathy, essential oils, massage, myofascial release therapy, or other alternative treatments.

At your first chiropractic appointment, you will fill out your health history and a questionnaire related to your pain symptoms. Then depending on the chiropractor, you may do a test where you stand on a scale and they get a report of your fat to muscle ratios among other things. The chiropractor will also assess your range of motion, reflexes, and muscle strength. They will then talk to you about your pain areas and answer any questions you might have. If the chiropractor feels that he or she can help you, they will probably do a few adjustments at your first appointment. A good chiropractor will not treat someone, if they know it could be harmful due to a past injury.

Chronic Pain Resources


How long do Adjustments take? How often are Adjustments?

The first visit maybe 30 minutes or more. Regular visits after the first appointment will typically take around 10 to 15 minutes. Adjustments are done while you are sitting upright, on your side, lying face down, or on your back. You may not feel immediate relief with your first adjustment. It may take a few appointments or more to feel definite improvements. It all depends on your condition. It also depends upon how well you take care of your back or pain areas outside of appointments. Depending on the level of pain, treatments can be once to twice a week. As you improve, sessions will be once a month to six weeks. Once the major pain issues are addressed, you can choose whether to continue to go for general wellness visits or wait till a pain issue comes up again.

Scientific Research to Support Chiropractic Care

Chronic Pain ResourcesThere are many clinical research studies showing the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for spine-related injuries, low back pain, neck pain, headaches, spinal manipulation in general, and more.


In the March/April 2007 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, the researchers reviewed nine previously published trials and found “high-quality evidence” that patients with chronic neck pain showed significant pain-level improvements following spinal manipulation. (ACA) Also, all groups showed positive improvement even 12 weeks after treatment. There are several more studies like this one on the American Chiropractic Association website.


Here are some other research studies:

  • ScienceDirect has a randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for migraines.
  • ChiroACCESS  has two studies showing medical research supports chiropractic maintenance care.
  • Dr. ERICZ has 10 chiropractic research studies on neck, back, leg pain, and more.

ICPA/ICPA Peer Reviewed Published Papers and Current Projects
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