Key Facts About the Chiropractic Profession

Facts About Chiropractic (PDF)

By the Numbers

•    More than 80,000 chiropractic physicians of Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) are state-licensed and nationally certified.

•    There are approximately 10,000 chiropractic students in 18 nationally accredited, chiropractic doctoral graduate education programs across the United States with 2,500 DCs entering the workforce every year. 

•    Roughly 40,000 chiropractic assistants (CAs) are in clinical and business management roles for chiropractic practices across the United States. 

•    Chiropractic physicians (DCs) treat more than 27 million Americans (adults and children) annually.

•    Chiropractic physicians or Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) are educated in nationally accredited, four-year doctoral graduate school programs through a curriculum that includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical internship, with the average DC program equivalent in hours to allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) medical schools.

•    Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) are designated as physician-level providers in 33 states as well as in many federal programs, with services available through Medicare, Medicaid, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Federal Employees Health Care Benefits Programs, Federal Workers’ Compensation and most states workers’ compensation programs.

Consumer Satisfaction/Effectiveness

•    Chiropractic outperformed all other back-pain treatments, including prescription medication, deep- tissue massage, yoga, Pilates, and over-the-counter medication therapies.

•    Chiropractic physicians or Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) were the highest-rated professional practitioner for low-back pain treatments above physical therapists (PTs), specialist physician/MD (ie neurosurgeons, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons), and primary care physician/MD (i.e., family or internal medicine).

•    Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) are utilized by all 32 National Football League teams in optimizing the functionality, endurance and overall conditioning of professional football players in the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal strain injuries, including neck pain, low back pain, strains to hamstrings and quadriceps, and whiplash injuries.

•    Treatment for low back pain when initiated by a chiropractic physician (DC) costs up to 40 percent less than when started by a MD.

•    With prescription drug abuse now classified as an epidemic in the United States and the number of spinal fusions soaring 500% over the last decade, chiropractic services offers a primary care, conservative approach to pain treatment that often enable a patients to reduce or avoid the need for riskier treatments.

•    During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, a chiropractic physician (DC) led the polyclinic – a multidisciplinary medical services team – which included nearly 30 other chiropractic physicians. Almost 40 additional DCs treated Team USA and other teams from around the world at the London games.

•    Chiropractic care has an excellent safety record compared with more common treatments such as pain medications and surgery. As a result, chiropractic physicians pay malpractice premiums at significantly lower rates than medical doctors.

1 Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB), 2013.
2 National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE), 2013.
3 Association of Chiropractic Colleges,, 2013.
4 Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) is the agency certified by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit doctoral graduate school programs who offer Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree, 2013.
5 Association of Chiropractic Colleges,, 2013.
6 American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB), 2013.
7 Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin R. CDC National Health Statistics Report #12. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007. December 10, 2008. Extrapolated to 2013 U.S. population from 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) finding that 8 percent of the adults and 3 percent of the children in the United States received chiropractic services annually.8 Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE), 2013.9 William C. Meeker, DC, MPH; Scott Halderman, DC, PhD, MD; Chiropractic: A Profession at the Crossroads of Mainstream and Alternative Medicine. 2002; 136 (3): 216-227.
10 Coulter I, Adams A, Coggan P, Wilkes M Gonyea M. A comparative study of chiropractic and medical education. Alternative Therapy Health Medicine 1998; 4:64-75.
11 FCLB, see also
12 Consumer reports Health Ratings Center. Back-Pain Treatments.; July 2011.
13 Consumer reports Health Ratings Center. Relief for Your Aching Back: What Worked for Our Readers., March 2013.
14 Professional football Chiropractic Society (PFCS) 2010
15 Richard L. Liliedahl, Michael D. Finch, David V. Axene, Christine M. Goertz. Cost of Care for Common Back Pain Conditions Initiated with Chiropractic Doctor vs. Medical Doctor/Doctor of Osteopathy as First Physician: Experience of One Tennessee-Based General Health Insurer. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics; November 2010 (volume 33 issue 9 Pages 640-643).
16 Unintentional Drug Poisoning in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010. Prescription
Drug Abuse. White House Office on National Drug Policy, 2013.
17 Peter Whoriskey, Dan Keating. Boom in spinal fusions questioned. Washington Post. Page 1. October 28, 2013; Rise in the spinal fusion surgeries driven partly by financial incentives. Washington Post. November 13, 2013
18 U.S. Olympic Committee’s Sports Medicine Division, 2013.
19 Source: NCMIC Chiropractic Solutions,