This category includes establishments of licensed practitioners having the degree of doctor of chiropractic and engaged in the practice of chiropractic medicine. Operations serving as clinics of chiropractors are also covered in this industry.
Offices of Chiropractors
The central element of chiropractic is the practitioner's belief that the nervous system holds the key to maintenance of a healthy balance in the body. Practitioners believe that their manipulations of the spine can prevent disease and promote well-being. Doctors of chiropractic (DCs) believe that a patient's susceptibility to disease increases when homeostasis, or a healthy balance, in the body is disrupted by the misalignment of vertebrae. Chiropractors use gentle manual pressure to correct such misalignments, or subluxations. Chiropractors also use muscle massage and ultrasound stimulation of deep tissue.
Although doctors of medicine, as represented by the American Medical Association (AMA), long have suggested that chiropractic is something that falls far short of medicine, in recent years anti-chiropractic rhetoric from the AMA has diminished significantly. Indeed, some medical doctors today grudgingly acknowledge that there definitely is a place for chiropractic, particularly in the treatment of chronic back and neck pain and headaches. For their part, most chiropractors unhesitatingly refer certain patients to medical doctors if they feel the latter are best equipped to deal with those patients' ailments.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were approximately 50,000 active chiropractic licenses in the United States in 2000. Some of the DCs not currently in active practice on their own may teach, conduct research for chiropractic colleges, or work in hospitals. Chiropractors may be self-employed or salaried, with those self-employed usually earning more. According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), the average income in 2000 for all chiropractors, including self-employed, was about $81,500 after expenses. Median annual earnings of salaried chiropractors were $67,030 in 2000. A chiropractor's income may be influenced by a number of factors, including experience, characteristics, qualifications, and geographic location.
Based on a poll conducted by the Gallup organization in the early 1990s, the ACA estimates that about 10 percent of the adult American population visits a chiropractor every year. Assuming that this figure has remained relatively static, that would mean that 27 to 28 million Americans use chiropractic services each year.
The American Chiropractic Association reported more than 60,000 active chiropractic licenses in the United States in 2005. There were an estimated 42,083 chiropractic offices scattered throughout the United States employing approximately 130,548 people. Chiropractors reported combined revenues of almost $6.2 billion in 2005. Chiropractors located in California contributed $951.4 million, for 14.6 percent of the market. Other dominant states included New York with 2,684 practitioners; Florida (2,479); Pennsylvania (2,255); and New Jersey (1,824).
Chiropractors must have a license to practice and can practice only in the states where they have licenses. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, all states recognize chiropractors trained by colleges accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education. The majority of state licensing boards require at least two years of undergraduate college education, followed by the four-year training course at a chiropractic college, while others require a bachelor's degree.
Most states accept part or all of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners' three-part test. Some states ask chiropractors to take an additional basic science proficiency exam. Those who complete a chiropractic education are awarded a doctor of chiropractic degree. Almost all states require chiropractors to complete a specific number of hours of continuing education every year to keep their licenses current. Some chiropractic associations provide courses to obtain specialty certification, called "diplomate" certification. Areas of specialty include: orthopedics, sports injuries, nutrition, radiology, thermography, neurology, internal disorders, and occupational and industrial health.
About 70 percent of licensed chiropractors open solo private practices. Some join established practices on a salary basis to earn enough money to open their own clinics. Although many chiropractors are self-employed, most work about a 40-hour work week and vary schedules to accommodate patients' needs. Chiropractors on average employ about three office staff, and their salaries constitute...