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  • Writer's pictureChristeen Perkins, DC

The 11 Chiropractic Specialties

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Chiropractors are known in the healthcare system for their focus on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. It is mostly unknown that not all chiropractors are created equal nor do they all have the same educational background. Sure their basics are all very similar. Chiropractors go through the same basic sciences and clinical sciences and have to sit for and pass the same 4 parts of the national chiropractic boards. But what each individual chiropractor decides to study after graduation is completely up to them and can be different for everyone.

There are currently 11 chiropractic specialties that have diplomates associated with them. A diplomate is an extra certification a chiropractor can earn symbolizing the chiropractor is now recognized as a specialist in their area of study. Dipolmates require a chiropractor to complete a set number of hours through an accredited institution and take and pass an exam put together by the board of their desired specialty.

The 11 following specialties are recognized by the American Board of Chiropractic Specialties:

Chiropractic rehabilitation specialists use both chiropractic techniques and the most up to date rehabilitation exercises to help reduce their patient’s pain and improve mobility and function.

Chiropractors who specialize in sports medicine are uniquely trained to help improve performance of the highest level athlete to the weekend warrior.

Chiropractors that obtain the pediatric diplomate are equipped to treat children of all ages. They are educated in conditions that commonly affect children and how to best address children through their various stages of development.

Chiropractic acupuncturists are chiropractors who are certified to perform acupuncture on their patients. They use acupuncture in conjunction with their chiropractic skills to help improve patient outcomes.

Chiropractic internists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of internal disorders such as cardiovascular and gastrointestinal disorders.

Chiropractors who specialize in neurology specifically treat the brain, spine and nervous system through advanced techniques. They use techniques that affect the sensory system to improve neurologic function and overall health.

The chiropractic board of clinical nutrition aims to educate chiropractors on the latest research in clinical nutrition. This allows chiropractors to provide nutrition and lifestyle recommendations to help improve their patient’s overall health.

The American chiropractic board of occupational health is in place to educate chiropractors with information to allow chiropractors to provide businesses with occupational and ergonomic services.

Chiropractic radiologists have advanced education in the assessment and interpretation of advanced images such as X-rays, CT, MRI and diagnostic ultrasound.

Chiropractors who specialize in forensic sciences are able to testify in court cases related to personal injury, workmans comp and motor vehicle accidents. They are able to discuss how the body could potentially react under certain stressors.

Chiropractic neuromusculoskeletal specialists have further advanced their education in conditions of the musculoskeletal system. They treat both acute and chronic conditions with hands-on evidence informed techniques to help improve patient outcomes.

As you can see chiropractors can be trained in a variety of different populations and skills. So you might be wondering, should I only see a chiropractor who also holds a diplomate in their specialty? The answer is, not necessarily. While these diplomates can be helpful in identifying who specializes in what, they are not the only way for chiropractors to get further education and to specialize. For example, Dr. Perkins specializes in prenatal and postpartum care. As you can see from the list above, prenatal and postpartum are not populations with a specialized diplomate. However, it is a special population that needs very specific care. And while there might not be a diplomate there are certifications that providers can obtain to help them best serve unique populations.

But why do specialties matter in the field of chiropractic? For the same reason they matter when it comes to general medicine. You wouldn’t seek out advice from an orthopedic surgeon when you have questions related to pregnancy. Similarly you shouldn’t rely on a sports medicine chiropractor to know webster technique as a tool to assist you if your baby is breech. Would the sports med chiropractor still know how to basically adjust you, yes. And would you probably find some relief even if they didn’t perform webster technique, also yes. But are they going to know to direct you to information on spinning babies technique or other modalities you can use at home to help encourage your baby to get into a head down position, probably not. And that’s ok because breech pregnancy is not what they specialize in. But if you want the best, most comprehensive care, which you definitely deserve, then you really should be seeking care from the chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy. This goes both ways. If you injure yourself lifting weights you are likely going to get better faster if you see a sports medicine chiropractor instead of a prenatal chiropractor and the sports medicine chiropractor is likely to give you some tips on how to improve your form to prevent injury in the future. What your chiropractor specializes in matters.

Don’t be hesitant to ask your chiropractor if they have a specialty or certification. And if their specialty doesn’t resonate with you, ask them for a referral to a chiropractor who specializes in what you are looking for. At the end of the day, getting the most comprehensive and specialized care is what matters and what you deserve. Don’t settle for care that doesn’t meet your needs.

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