The word ‘chiropractic’ comes from the Greek words cheir (meaning ‘hand’) and praktikos (meaning ‘done’) – namely, done by hand. Chiropractors are primary contact practitioners (which means they can see patients without a referral from a GP). They focus on treating the spine by using their hands to examine and treat health conditions related to the bones, muscles and joints (musculoskeletal problems).
Chiropractors are trained to recommend exercises to treat and rehabilitate health conditions related to the bones, muscles and joints, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle advice.
They use a broad range of methods to diagnose musculoskeletal problems, including hands-on clinical examination, and diagnostic imaging such as x-rays or MRIs. These and other diagnostic methods are used to determine when chiropractic treatment is appropriate.
If chiropractic care is not appropriate, or if your health condition needs to be co-managed with other health care professionals, your chiropractor will refer you to the appropriate health care provider.
In many cases, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care may be a person’s primary method of treatment. For some medical conditions, chiropractic services may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition.
You do not need a referral to see a chiropractor unless you are seeking treatment through Veterans’ Affairs or the Medicare Chronic Disease Management program.