About chiropractic

This page provides an overview of what chiropractic is, what chiropractic treatment involves and the regulation of chiropractic. 

If you are considering chiropractic treatment, read our guide to seeing a chiropractor for the first time.

What chiropractic is

Chiropractic is a health profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints and muscles), and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health.  There is an emphasis on manual treatments including spinal adjustment and other joint and soft-tissue manipulation.

Chiropractors have a specialist interest in neck and back pain but when they assess their patient they take their entire physical, emotional and social wellbeing into account.

Chiropractors use a range of techniques to reduce pain, improve function and increase mobility, with an emphasis on hands-on manipulation of the spine.

They may also offer advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle, and rehabilitation programmes that involve exercises to do in your own time. Some chiropractors may also offer other treatments, such as acupuncture.

Regulation of chiropractic

All chiropractors in the UK are regulated by the General Chiropractic Council (GCC).

Chiropractors are required to renew their registration each year and as part of this process, the GCC checks that chiropractors have current professional indemnity insurance, remain in good health and of good character, and have met mandatory continuing professional development

The GCC can, and will, prosecute individuals who practise as chiropractors when they are not on the GCC Register.

Who and what do chiropractors treat?

Chiropractors’ patients include the young, older people, manual workers, office professionals, pregnant women, children and sports people. Patients seek treatment for a wide variety of conditions, including back pain, neck pain, joint pains, headaches caused by neck problems, and prevention of migraine and conditions arising from sports injury.

There are many different approaches and techniques used by chiropractors, because of this the treatment approach taken by one chiropractor might be significantly different from that of another.  However, all chiropractors will need to take a patient history and receive your informed consent before treatment.

Most patients visit a chiropractor of their own accord, but some may be referred by a doctor. Chiropractors are trained to recognise when chiropractic will not help a medical condition, and will refer a patient to a GP when necessary.  Most chiropractors work in the private sector, either alone or in a group practice, and some offer services through the NHS. For further information please visit the NHS Choices site.   http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chiropractic/pages/introduction.aspx