For Healthcare Professionals
Chiropractic is a primary healthcare profession that specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and management of musculoskeletal conditions that are due to mechanical dysfunction of the joints and muscles, particularly of the neck and back.
The profession is statutorily regulated through the General Chiropractic Council (GCC). It is illegal to practise as a chiropractor without being registered with the GCC.
The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) is the largest and longest-standing association for chiropractors in the UK, requiring international standards of education, exemplary conduct and a commitment to ongoing professional development.
Modern chiropractors in the UK are trained to treat a variety of MSK conditions however, in practise, treatment of back and neck pain constitutes a major part of their practise.
Chiropractors are trained to undertake a comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment. This may include:
- Case history of the main complaint as well as past medical history
- Physical examination and evaluation
- Postural evaluation
- Detailed evaluation of musculoskeletal system
- Orthopaedic and neurological tests
- Diagnostic imaging when clinically indicated, in accordance with current legislation and the guidelines of the Royal College of Radiologists
Chiropractors are trained to triage and screen for serious pathology (red flags) as well as psychosocial factors (yellow flags) which may affect outcomes. Patient reported outcome measures (PROMS) are often used to monitor progress. Upon completion of the clinical assessment, a full report of findings will be explained to the patient. Only after consent has been obtained will treatment be initiated.
Chiropractors utilise a package of care. Treatment interventions may include manual therapy (spinal manipulation, massage, stretching and mobilisation), supervised rehabilitation or lifestyle advice. Sometimes, electrotherapy, ultrasound and acupuncture may be used.
BCA chiropractors support the treatment they offer with cognitive interventions such as individual advice about the patient’s lifestyle, work and exercise, in order to help in managing the condition and assisting recovery. Chiropractors incorporate spinal stabilisation programmes and functional rehabilitation exercises to resolve persistent problems and prevent recurrence.
The General Medical Council and the Department of Health advise that GPs may safely refer patients to practitioners, such as chiropractors, who are on a Statutory Register. (Complementary Medicine, information for Primary Care Clinicians, DOH June 2000).
Chiropractors are subject to a Code of Practice and Standard of Proficiency and patients may formally complain to the regulator, the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) if they are dissatisfied with their care. The GCC sets standards of education, proficiency and conduct.