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What does a Chiropractor do?

Chiropractors diagnose, treat and prevent mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system and look at the effect of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health. They help patients to recover from these disorders through the use of manual manipulation or supportive techniques, specialist equipment and rehabilitative exercise. Chiropractors also take patients’ general health, lifestyle and well-being into consideration to provide more holistic treatments.

A chiropractor’s tasks can include:

  • taking detailed medical histories
  • analysing the patient’s posture, spine and reflexes
  • taking and interpreting x-rays
  • checking blood pressure and performing other medical tests
  • assessing and planning treatment requirements
  • performing adjustments of the spine and extremities using hands, specialist equipment and massage
  • advising patients on health and lifestyle issues, such as exercise, nutrition and sleep habits
  • keeping accurate and confidential clinical records
  • liaising with and making referrals to doctors / health care practitioners.

What qualifications do I need?

Prospective chiropractors are required to have a Masters of Technology in Chiropractic – a postgraduate degree that typically takes six years to complete. The first four years focus primarily on anatomy and physiology, diagnostic skills, pathology, and psychomotor skills such as adjusting techniques. From the fifth year of study you have contact with patients. Students are required to complete a certain number of hours in a clinic and complete a specified training programme. An internship programme has been included as a mandatory registration requirement by the Allied Health Professions Council (AHPCSA). All students and qualified chiropractors must register with the Allied Health Service Professions Council. Full registration will be granted after completion of a period of community service / internship as determined by the Council.

What subjects do I need?

Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended: 
• Mathematics
• Physical Sciences
• Life Sciences


Where can I study?

Durban University of Technology
Masters of Technology: Chiropractic

University of Johannesburg
Masters of Technology: Chiropractic

Where can I get more info?

Chiropractic Association of South Africa – www.chiropractic.co.za
Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) – www.hpcsa.co.za


Interview with a Chiropractor

Dr Malcolm Taylor | CHIROPRACTOR | Self-Employed

Dr Malcolm Taylor | CHIROPRACTOR | Self-Employed


Why did you choose this profession?
Chiropractic chose me! I had chiropractic treatment as an active sporty teenager, with excellent results. One day, the word chiropractic literally came into my head, and I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. My chiropractor was an amazing role model as a person.

What exactly does a chiropractor do?
A chiropractor uses his knowledge of the human body, specifically the spine, to help restore spinal function, which, through the nerves, assists the body to reach its full health potential.

What training did you undergo and where?
Having grown up in Canada from the age of seven, I continued my chiropractic training in Toronto. Currently, one can study in South Africa at the University of Durban or the University of Johannesburg. It is a six-year course, which includes one’s internship and a research thesis.

Describe a typical day on the job
I would probably see one to three new patients a day, conducting a thorough case history to understand as much as possible about a patient’s presenting problem, old injuries, current injuries, occupational postures and emotional demands. If they are indeed suited to chiropractic treatment, I’ll determine an appropriate treatment plan for them, which may range from 2-3 sessions, or be much more extensive, depending on how complicated the problem is. The rest of the day sees me treating a steady flow of patients who are at some point in their treatment regime. There is always a certain component of administration, report writing and staff administration to deal with.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love engaging with people, analysing the problem, coming up with a plan, implementing the plan and, ultimately, seeing results and having a patient who has learned more about their body and their health.

What don’t you like?
Not being able to help someone, and maybe the difficulty in planning holiday time. One is always in the middle of a treatment programme with someone. However, one can often get a locum to fill in.

What hurdles have you had to overcome?
Building up a practice and a reputation takes time, and the early days require a lot of patience. One has to be very self-motivated.

The highlights of your career to date?
Seeing babies of babies that I treated in my early years of practice is very rewarding. It shows that a whole generation has grown up knowing the value of chiropractic work.

What are your future goals?
I would like to bring on board a young chiropractor and mentor them, passing on some of the knowledge and experience that I have gained. I was recently joined by another chiropractor in my clinic who is in his 70s and still has as much passion for his work as when he started. A homeopath also uses my premises, which rounds out my personal ideals on health care and its natural holistic approach.

What makes a chiropractor successful?
One must be genuinely caring, analytical, physically capable of the demands placed on one’s own body, and able to communicate easily with patients.

What advice would you give to young people wanting to be chiropractors?
To me, chiropractic is not a job, but a calling. Do it for the right reasons.