What is Chiropractic?

July 06, 2021 | Chiropractic


Chiropractic is non-invasive, safe and gentle hands-on healthcare that focuses on the musculoskeletal (MSK) system. Doctors of Chiropractic (DC) use a manual approach to treatment while providing a diagnosis and preventive care for disorders related to the spine, pelvis, nervous system and joints.


Did you know that chiropractic is one of the largest regulated, primary-contact health care professions in Canada? There are more than 9,000 licensed chiropractors practicing across Canada with over 5000 DCs practicing right here in Ontario. Globally, there are an estimated 100,000 chiropractors practicing in 90 different countries.

History of Chiropractic

The actual word chiropractic stems from the Greek words “chiro” and “praktikos” meaning “done by hand.” Even more interesting, is the Canadian connection in chiropractic’s early history.


Daniel David Palmer, a Canadian living in the U.S., founded the Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1897. It is now known as Palmer College of Chiropractic where it remains today in Davenport, Iowa (Four of  CURAVITA health team’s chiropractors attended Palmer College for their chiropractic education). The early years of the chiropractic profession saw conflict between conventional medicine and this new approach. Kansas became the first U.S. state to recognize and license chiropractic in 1913. Alberta was the first province to license chiropractic in Canada in 1923 and Newfoundland was the last to license chiropractic in 1992. Until the 1960s, it was not uncommon for chiropractors to be jailed and fined for practicing without a licence.


Today, 4.7 million Canadians seek out Chiropractors for the treatment of MSK pain and dysfunction. In Ontario, almost 2.7 million patients rely on chiropractic care every year to help them live healthy, active lives.


Chiropractic Education

A chiropractor’s education covers the anatomy and physiology of the spine more extensively than other medical professionals. A key difference is that chiropractors are uniquely trained and qualified to diagnose issues concerning your spine, muscles and joints. They’re also qualified to diagnose nervous system conditions related to your spine, muscles and joints. To become a chiropractor, and subsequently practise in Canada, students must first complete at least six to seven years of post-secondary education, including more than 4,200 hours of specialized chiropractic training.


In Canada, there are only two accredited chiropractic college/university programs. The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC), in Toronto, is an evidence-based leader in chiropractic education and research offers a four-year second-entry undergraduate professional program leading to a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree. The Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, in Quebec, offers the doctor of chiropractic program at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and is taught entirely in French and is the only program within the Quebec university system that delivers education and training for chiropractors. 


Many chiropractors practicing in Ontario attain their chiropractic education and training from an accredited chiropractic college in the United States, or in other countries, such as Great Britain, France and Australia.


Following their formal education, graduates must then pass a national standardized regulatory exam to be eligible to practice in Canada and then provincial licensing examinations to become a Doctor of Chiropractic in their chosen Canadian province or territory.


Some chiropractors also pursue additional academic and practical education to specialize in clinical sciences and diagnostic imaging, pediatric, spinal stenosis, sports sciences, rehabilitation or even animal chiropractic care. Specialty chiropractic colleges in Canada include:

Chiropractors in Ontario

Like with other healthcare professions such as medicine, nursing and dentistry, chiropractic is governed by provincially-legislated regulatory and licensing authorities. Each provincial authority is responsible for granting a licence to practice chiropractic in their jurisdiction, establishing standards of practice, and protecting the public interest. The regulatory process includes peer review programs, continuing education requirements, investigating complaints, and disciplining practitioners who fail to meet provincial licensing standards.


In Ontario, the College of Chiropractors of Ontario (CCO) regulates chiropractors to ensure every patient receives safe and quality care. It was established by the Regulated Health Professions Act and the Chiropractic Act to serve as the legislated regulatory body for chiropractors in Ontario. Every chiropractor practicing in Ontario must be a registered member of CCO. All graduates from an accredited chiropractic program must first pass the Canadian Chiropractic Examining Board (CCEB) examinations, and then the CCO Legislation and Ethics examination before they are eligible to apply for a licence to practise in Ontario.  


Like other regulated health professionals, a chiropractor’s training is ongoing. To keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date, practicing chiropractors must participate in continuing education with minimum yearly standards set by each provincial regulatory college.  

When to see a chiropractor

Chiropractic care is a primary health care option for many MSK conditions, including neck, mid-back, low back pain and headaches. Most people don’t realize that chiropractors can also assess and treat extremity issues such as foot, knee, wrist, or shoulder pain and dispense orthotics. Chiropractic can provide relief for patients with chronic conditions like arthritis, and may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the MSK pain and dysfunction associated with other conditions.


MSK conditions include a wide range of disorders that can impact the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and connective tissue. Almost 90% of Canadians suffer from MSK pain, which can negatively impact almost all aspects of daily life. The most common type of MSK pain affecting Canadians is low back pain, which is also one of the most common reasons prompting patients to seek medical attention.


Chiropractors may use a combination of treatments centred on the specific needs of each patient. After taking a complete history and diagnosing the patient, a chiropractor will develop a care plan, recommend rehabilitative exercise, and other adjunct therapies, and may provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counselling.


Back pain is a complex problem and a significant contributing factor to long-term disability, absence from work and a large economic burden to all Canadians. A healthy spine contributes to a pain-free, active and healthy lifestyle.


If back pain is keeping you from going about your day-to-day and keeping you on the sidelines of active living, consider chiropractic. Most people seeking services at CURAVITA are able to see a chiropractor for a consultation and assessment on the same day or the day after. Contact us and schedule an appointment to get answers to your nagging pain.