For CAs: The Health-Service Role of the Doctor of Chiropractic

The Chiro.Org Blog

We would all like to thank Dr. Richard C. Schafer, DC, PhD, FICC for his lifetime commitment to the profession. In the future we will continue to add materials from RC’s copyrighted books for your use.

This is Chapter 3 from RC’s best-selling book:

“The Chiropractic Assistant”

These materials are provided as a service to our profession. There is no charge for individuals to copy and file these materials. However, they cannot be sold or used in any group or commercial venture without written permission from ACAPress.

Chapter 3: The Health-Service Role of the Doctor of Chiropractic

This chapter briefly describes the role of the doctor of chiropractic in the health care of the nation. It also introduces the reader to the rationale of clinical diagnostics, therapeutics, rehabilitation, and counseling in the chiropractic approach. Some particular areas of special interest are also described.


The diagnostic process of a patient’s disorder begins with the recording and interpretation of the patient’s medical history. Thus, the initial interview and consultation with the patient is of utmost importance. It will direction the examinations and tests that are to follow. Every measure of observation that will substantially profile the patient is employed and recorded. A systematic and thorough physical examination is conducted using the methods, techniques, and instruments that are standard with all health professions. In addition, the doctor of chiropractic will include a postural and spinal analysis, an innovation in the field of physical diagnosis and examination.


The chiropractic physician uses the standard procedures and instruments of physical and clinical diagnosis, and he is well acquainted with the need for differential diagnosis. Diagnostic radiology, especially as it pertains to the skeletal system, is a primary clinical diagnostic aid in chiropractic and has been since the early 1900s.

In addition, doctors of chiropractic are knowledgeable in the standard and special clinical laboratory procedures and tests usual to modern diagnostic science. Facilities for roentgenography (x-ray), thermography, electrocardiography (ECG or EKG), and electromyography (EMG) are standard among many other technologic advancements. Each accredited chiropractic college has a laboratory licensed to carry on clinical laboratory examinations, including such fields as cytology, chemistry, hematology, serology, bacteriology, and parasitology.

After experiencing a diagnostic evaluation from a doctor of chiropractic, many patients report that it was the most thorough examination of their lifetime. The reason for this is that the chiropractic physician views each patient as an individual who has been subjected to both unique outside and inside forces, who is interested in both correction and prevention, and who is interested in the preservation of both the quantity and the quality of life. Thoroughness is a necessity to achieve such goals.

Overview of the Diagnostic Process

Any professional therapy administered ethically, professionally, and legally must be based on the doctor’s diagnosis of the patient’s condition. That is, the diagnosis must direct the treatment. By understanding why the doctor does what he does during the diagnostic process, the CA will be in a better position to answer patient questions. Diagnosis (determining the cause of the patient’s complaint) involves the use of inductive and deductive logic. This process can be divided into two major divisions: data gathering and data interpretation (Table 3.1).

Table 3.1. Elements of Diagnostic Logic

Review the complete Chapter (including sketches and Tables) at the ACAPress website