Duties & Responsibilities of a Chiropractor


Chiropractors are health care providers who are trained to resolve problems in the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, such as headaches or pain in the back, neck or joints. They recommend rehabilitative exercises and provide dietary and lifestyle counseling, but are best known for their practice of "spinal manipulation," in which they apply force into joints that have suffered tissue injury to restore mobility.

Quality of Care

  • The most basic responsibility of a chiropractor is to provide the most effective treatments possible, using whichever diagnostic and treatment procedures are in the best interest of the patient while also respecting local laws and avoiding unnecessary procedures. The International Chiropractors Association specifies that chiropractors should continuously read chiropractic and other medical journals to keep up with new studies and innovations, and must attend chiropractic continuing education programs. They must also communicate often with other chiropractors to share information that might help patients. Finally, a chiropractor has a duty to interpret scientific information objectively and to present it as accurately as possible to patients.


  • The International Chiropractors Association's Code of Professional Ethics dictates that chiropractors must "attend" to their patients as often as necessary for the patients' well-being, and must be accessible to them in case of a medical emergency. Once a chiropractor has taken on a patient, he can't terminate his services without giving the patient enough warning time to find an alternative health care provider. (The code does stipulate that, except in emergency situations, a chiropractor can choose not to take on a particular patient, as long as the decision is not based on "race; sex; cultural, national or ethic origins; religion; political persuasions or ability to recompense.")

Respect for Patients

  • The code also specifies that a chiropractor must treat her patients with respect and dignity. This means making sure they have enough information to understand and make choices about their care; maintaining confidentiality about their diagnosis and care; and providing treatment in a setting that allows for privacy. If a patient asks to see a chiropractor's credentials, or for a referral for a second opinion, she must provide it.

Knowing Your Limits

  • Chiropractors can't cure everything, and it is the doctor's duty to acknowledge the limitations of his profession and abilities and to refer patients to other health care providers when appropriate, or to consult with other specialists for their opinions about a patient's care. Chiropractors are also bound by the International Chiropractors Association's ethics neither to "exaggerate nor minimize the gravity of a patient's condition, nor offer any false hope or prognosis."

Community Activism

  • The International Chiropractor's Association lists, among a chiropractor's duties, the responsibility to participate in public affairs---be it at the local or state level--in an effort to improve laws and policies that affect public health.

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