Through speaking with Alta Mahan, a ten-year veteran chiropractor, Allied Health World gained a unique understanding of what a day in the life of a chiropractor is like. Alta’s thoughtful responses to common questions and her experienced perspective has helped us answer the questions most frequently asked by those interested in pursuing jobs in chiropractic medicine:
Are there specialized forms of chiropractic bodywork?In chiropractic medicine there are many programs available for furthering education so as to embrace a specialty and work with a specific clientele. These programs for specialized forms of chiropractic bodywork are available through the same chiropractic schools that provide the Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) credential standard to the profession. The additional certification necessary t
Doctor of Chiropractic, Alta Mahan, explains how these additional diplomates work to broaden the scope of practice available to a practitioner, while at the same time allowing them to refine their practice so as to work with a specific type of client, “Earning additional diplomates doesn’t mean we don’t work on other cases as well. In our office we have quite a big auto accident clientele, and the doctor I work with tends to work more with geriatrics.” Alta went on to explain how a practitioner can choose to become a specialist in a specific school of chiropractic medicine, “There are also specializations in different types of chiropractic care such as Toggle, Upper Cervical, Gonstead, and Thompson Techniques.”
What is an example of healing through chiropractic bodywork?In speaking to veteran chiropractic physician, Alta Mahan, we were stuck by the genuine enthusiasm she had for her chiropractic career. Her exuberance was inspiring as she offered several anecdotal accounts of remarkable examples of healing she helped facilitate in her ten years of practice. One particular story stood out as a strong testament to the efficacy of chiropractic bodywork:
“Kim started to see me because she had low back pain. She was a workingwoman in her mid fifties, and was quite overweight. We worked on her spine for many months. After a few months she told us her primary care physician was questioning her lifestyle and was wondering what she was doing differently. She had always been diagnosed with very high blood pressure, but at last visit it was normal. Her doctor started to lower her doses of blood pressure medicine and eventually took her off the medicine completely. Her blood pressure remained normal. Now, her lower back had severe arthritis in it, and she had a herniated disc, which she decided to have surgery on. We didn’t see her for about three months; in that time she had the surgery on her back. After about a month after the surgery she noticed her blood pressure was starting to go way up again, and her husband asked her to come back to our office. She didn’t tell us when she came back why she was back, but I checked her spine and adjusted her where she needed it anyhow. The next week she came in and told me that her blood pressure had been going up and after the last adjustment had gone back down to normal. She thought it might just have been a fluke so she waited another few months before coming back in again, and again the same thing happened; she came back into the office, we adjusted her, and her blood pressure went back to normal. She now gets adjusted on a regular maintenance schedule of one or two times per month and hasn’t had any more blood pressure problems since.”
What types of injuries and ailments do chiropractors treat?Although chiropractors are most often associated with the work they perform directly on the spine and surrounding tissue to help relieve neck, shoulder, and back pain; those interested in knowing how to become a chiropractor will find it interesting to note that the work they perform does not necessarily stop there. The body is comprised of many complex systems, but they all interconnect in some way to the spinal column and central nervous system. Because of this interrelation, chiropractic work can be far reaching in its ability to address a multitude of other issues. Veteran chiropractor, Alta Mahan explains, “I have worked on people that have come to the office for many reasons including, or course, all the spine pains and headaches. I’ve also worked with people who are looking to achieve weight loss, who are trying to get pregnant, and those who want to keep the body healthy through pregnancy. I’ve checked newborns after they were just born and worked with children who have sports injuries, as well as slips, trips and falls. I’ve found myself working with people who have blood pressure issues; people who want to have more energy, people with scoliosis issues, and degeneration or arthritis issues. These are just a few.”
Do chiropractic careers involve working independently or with other medical professionals?Historically it has been most common for chiropractors to work independently; however, there has been a growing trend in which chiropractors embrace the special skills of other bodywork and alternative health practitioners and bring them into the fold. These chiropractic offices that work collaboratively with other practitioners of alternative medicine and bodywork are known as a multi-practice offices. It is not uncommon to find massage therapists, physical therapists, herbalists, and acupuncturists working under the same roof as chiropractors.
Highly respected veteran chiropractor, Alta Mahan offers an explanation of another vital partnership that is becoming more common in chiropractic medicine, “We do a lot of referrals to other healthcare professionals such as MDs, Naturopaths, physical therapists, and acupuncturists. For most patients we tend to be their primary care provider and so we have to be able to recognize when something is out of our scope of practice and refer them to the appropriate source of care. There are even chiropractors that are working in hospitals along side MDs to take care of patients there.”