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So You Want to Be a…Chiropractor

Chiropractors specialize in treating pain or injury in the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, with a particular focus on the spinal column

What will I be doing all day?

Chiropractors specialize in treating pain or injury in the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, with a particular focus on the spinal column. Chiropractic is a holistic field of medicine, and its treatment goals focus on improving the patient’s overall health, based on the principle that misalignment of the spinal joints can cause lower resistance to disease and lead to other health issues.

A chiropractor’s responsibilities generally include assessing the patient’s medical complaint, examining the patient’s reflexes and posture, providing treatment via manual manipulation, recommending additional treatments or orthopedic supports, teaching the patient exercises to perform at home, counseling the patient on lifestyle adjustments to promote general wellness, and referring to other doctors when necessary.

What kind of career options do I have?

While many chiropractors work in their own practices, they can also work in a hospital setting, clinic, or other healthcare institution.

Chiropractors can receive post-graduate certifications specializing in a variety of areas, such as pediatrics, radiology, orthopedics, sports medicine, functional neurology, and clinical nutrition.

What kind of training do I need?

To become a licensed chiropractor, one must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree, which takes between three and five years to complete. Most D.C. programs include a year of clinical internship. In addition, chiropractors must receive state licensure, which generally involves passing a four-part exam given by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

Do I have the personality for it?

A good chiropractor has good analytical and diagnostic skills, is detail oriented, has excellent interpersonal skills, is a good listener and communicator, and is empathetic. A chiropractor must also have high physical stamina and strength, as the job involves performing ongoing manual treatments.

What can I expect to make?

The average US salary is about $160,000.

Salaries typically range from $115,000–$280,000.


Long Branch, NJ
Chiropractor and Owner, Adelphia Chiropractic Center, Lakewood, NJ
Graduated from: D.C. (Doctor of Chiropractic), Palmer College
Years in Field: 38


My Typical Day at Work

As a practitioner in Lakewood and in Deal, I work with a diverse range of patients and health issues, from people suffering from post-car-accident trauma to yeshivah bochurim who experience headaches from hunching over their shtenders all day.

I start by listening to the patient’s complaint and taking a full medical history. Next, I do a physical exam, in which I examine the spine, looking for movement and seeking patterns in each joint and muscle. I generally take X-rays, which can be helpful in reading the history of the spine to see what types of trauma it absorbed, as well as to see if, G-d forbid, there’s something else going on there that needs immediate medical attention.

In my opinion, the two most important skills that a chiropractor needs are to be able to truly listen to the patient and to have good hands-on tactile skills to feel what’s going on in the body through muscle palpation.

(For example, if I feel that one side of a muscle is tense and the other loose, that’s a sign that the muscle has been pulling that part of the body in one direction for a long time. Now it’s my job to figure out why.)

We primarily treat our patients with a combination of manual adjustments (realigning the spine in order to free up the nervous system, which improves the movement of spinal and other joints), as well as exercises and physical therapy-type treatments.

My second-favorite treatment is cold laser therapy. The laser beam pulses light of different frequency combinations into the body, and the cells respond, bending toward the light the way a plant would. This laser has had amazing success at healing a variety of problems, such as carpal tunnel, irritated nerves, swelling, and much more. My wife teases me about the way I carry the laser around all day like a favorite toy. (At $12,000, it’s quite an expensive one!)

How I Chose the Profession

My parents were always interested in chiropractic and took us to chiropractors as kids. In college, I went through a period where I wasn’t well and went on my own health quest, until I found relief through chiropractic treatment. A friend of mine had an uncle who was a chiropractor and was planning on entering the field himself. After speaking with his uncle, I decided it was for me.

What I Love Most about the Field

I see my work as much more than a job; it’s my opportunity to touch people’s lives and my personal arena for self-growth. In fact, on days when I find myself getting frustrated with people at work, inevitably my body responds and my back goes out!

I love knowing my work doesn’t only alleviate current pain but prevents many future health issues. Research shows that people who receive regular chiropractic care have less need for invasive medical procedures and surgeries and fewer hospitalizations.

What I Find Most Challenging About the Field

My biggest challenge is balancing professional and personal time, which is an issue for most busy professionals. More specific to chiropractic is dealing with insurance carriers. This has gotten more and more difficult over the past 20 years.

I’ll Never Forget When

I’ve had women with fertility issues become pregnant after a series of treatments.

Something I Wish People Knew About Chiropractors

Chiropractic treatment isn’t just for when you’re in pain. Spinal adjustments reduce the natural wear and tear on the spine as we age and can prevent future health issues such as arthritis. I like to compare it to preventative dental treatment.

How I’ve Seen the Field Change Over the Years

I’ve seen medical doctors cooperating much more with chiropractors in the last ten years, referring patients for chiropractic treatment. I believe that this is due to hearing about their patients’ success with the treatment, as well as the increasing body of research published about chiropractic’s effectiveness.

My Advice for People Starting Out

I’ve been in practice for 38 years and still love it! In my earlier days, perhaps I would have worked a bit less and spent more time with my children.


Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel
Chiropractor and Owner, the Integrative Health Center, Ramat Beit Shemesh
Graduated from: Parker College of Chiropractic
Years in Field: 24


My Typical Day at Work

I start my day with exercise; I just turned 60, and keeping in shape is more important than ever, especially since my work requires energy and stamina. I learn in the mornings and begin seeing patients at 2 p.m. until the evening. I treat patients four days a week and reserve the other two days for my functional medicine patients, who are mainly in the U.S.

Most chiropractic patients come due to some sort of pain, generally in the lower back or neck. Among the issues I treat are sciatica, herniated discs, failed low back surgery, knee pain, tailbone pain and injuries, carpal tunnel, headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, heel spurs, scoliosis, and frozen shoulder. I also provide treatment for pregnancy-related issues, including Webster’s Breech Technique for breech babies.

My other responsibilities include following up with patients and offering advice for pain they may have between visits. I need to give both practical advice as well as reassurance that with time, their pain will go away.

While most of my patients come by word of mouth, as the owner of a solo practice, I also need to manage the marketing aspects that any business requires, which include staying in the public eye by producing and publishing useful content. While I’ve always done the marketing myself, I’m currently interviewing someone to manage my digital marketing.

How I Chose the Profession

I started out on a very different career track. I have a BFA in graphic design and my dream was to break into Hollywood. I worked for several mainstream media outlets. When those opportunities dried up, I was already in my late 20s and decided that I needed to do something more stable.

I chose to become a chiropractor because I’d already experienced its benefit in my own life. In my early 20s I’d suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome. After three different medical experts insisted there was nothing wrong with me, a friend suggested trying a chiropractor. He adjusted me, and I felt better right away. Eventually I went to another chiropractor who used Applied Kinesiology. When I asked him about the profession, he pointed me in the right direction, and I returned to school at age 30.

Chiropractic programs are the same as medical programs, with a few differences. I studied all the basic sciences, learned physical diagnosis for a year, and put it into practice in a clinical setting as an intern and then as a resident. The main difference between the M.D. and D.C. program is that M.D.s receive extensive training in pharmacology and D.C.s receive extensive training in spinal manipulation and radiology.

How I Chose My Specialty

Chiropractors can either be general practitioners or choose from a wide range of specialties as post-graduate diplomates. I became board-certified in clinical nutrition and also took coursework in functional neurology, which emphasizes the interconnectedness of the different body systems and the important role the nervous system plays in overall wellness. I use this background to practice functional medicine, which is a holistic approach to healthcare. It focuses on identifying and addressing the root causes of chronic disease, using a patient-centered approach that analyzes the patient’s full health picture and creates personalized treatment plans with an emphasis on prevention and optimization of health.

What I Love Most about the Field

I love helping people live the best life they possibly can. It’s not just about eliminating the pain per se, but freeing them to do what the pain prevents them from doing — such as lifting their grandchildren, reaching up to put the dishes away, or exercising.

What I Find Most Challenging about the Field

While I love what I do, I don’t love all of the clerical tasks of running an office. It can also be challenging to educate people about what we do, since there is a lot of misinformation about the profession. For example, there’s a misconception that chiropractic adjustments are dangerous and risky and that our treatment isn’t scientifically validated. In fact, our procedures are safe when performed by licensed chiropractors (carrying similar risks to those of any medical procedure), and there’s a growing body of research supporting the effectiveness of chiropractic care.

There’s also a misconception that chiropractic is only effective for back or neck pain. In fact, it can also be effective for a variety of other conditions, including headaches, migraines, sciatica, and sports injuries.

I’ll Never Forget When

Baruch Hashem, I’ve had many success stories over the years. Recently, I treated a patient in his fifties who was physically active. He had a herniated lumbar disc that caused excruciating pain and weakness in his left leg. He came to me for a series of visits and improved. I wanted him to come for monthly maintenance, yet, like so many, once he felt better, he disappeared.

A few years later, he returned, this time in far worse shape. He was unable to put his left leg on the floor or climb onto the table. I told him that he needed to go to an orthopedic surgeon, but he insisted I could help him. Well, I did, but he really helped himself. He did everything I told him and reported back to me every week. In the end, he ran a triathlon!

Something I Wish People Knew About Chiropractors

That we have a doctorate degree from a rigorous educational program that compares to an M.D. program.

How I’ve Seen the Field Change Over the Years

Back in the ’70s, chiropractors were being put in jail for practicing medicine without a license. Tremendous progress has been made since then, both in chiropractic education and public perception. More medical doctors accept the profession and interprofessional referrals are common.

In the US, chiropractors mainly run solo practices with full radiology rights, and they also practice in hospitals as part of integrative medical teams specializing in pain management.

My Advice for People Starting Out

If you plan to practice solo, you must be a good business person and entrepreneurial. You need to understand how to make social media work for you. People need our skills but they don’t always know or understand how we can help. We must be educators as well as good clinicians.


White Plains, NY
Head of Physical Medicine and Chiropractor, Fountain Life, White Plains, NY; Founder and President of Daily Giving
Graduated from: University of Bridgeport School of Chiropractic
Years in Field: 17


My Typical Day at Work

I’m a pain specialist; patients of all ages and body types, from bubbies to professional athletes, come to me because they’re experiencing pain. While the majority have severe back pain, sciatica, neck pain, or headaches, pinched nerves in the spine can cause issues in the extremities as well. I find every person’s case unique and interesting. Sometimes, I’m the first physician they’re seeing; other times, they’ve been to ten different doctors and I’m their last hope.

I always start by taking a thorough medical history and often review any X-rays or MRIs they’ve had. After a comprehensive physical exam, I explain the root cause of their problem and, assuming I think I can help them, outline a plan to resolve it. If necessary, I send them for additional imaging. Patients can generally expect to receive treatment during their first visit.

There are many issues I can solve in just a few treatments, and there are also more chronic problems that may take several months.

How I Chose the Profession

I had planned on studying finance at Yeshiva University, but after spending two summers as a counselor at Camp HASC, I decided to be a doctor instead. The hard part was deciding which type of doctor to become.

I’d always loved sports and was also fairly certain that I lacked the talent to become a professional athlete, so I figured the next best thing would be to treat professional athletes. I narrowed down my choices to becoming an orthopedic surgeon or a chiropractor.

At the time, my first cousin was finishing up his training as an allergist, and he advised me, “If you aren’t specifically set on becoming a medical doctor, don’t do it.” (Today, he has a wonderful career as an allergist and tells me that he was probably just having a rough week when he told me that. I still think it was great advice.)

I shadowed several chiropractors and fell in love with the field. I’d watch patient after patient walk into the office in pain and walk out pain-free with a huge smile on their face. I loved that the chiropractors were addressing the root cause of the problem rather than giving the patient a pill or a shot to relieve a symptom.

How I Chose My Specialty

With Hashem’s help, I’ve successfully treated some of the most severe cases that confounded other doctors, and I attribute it to the techniques I use. There are four main techniques that I specialize in; I’ll describe two of them here.

The first, which I wrote a book about in 2015 called The Neck and Back Pain Solution: Everything You Need to Know About Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy, is a non-surgical, non-invasive treatment option that can help alleviate pain caused by bulging, herniated, or degenerative discs.

Using a specialized spinal decompression machine, this therapy gently stretches the spine in a specific pull and relax pattern, allowing the surrounding muscles to relax and creating a vacuum effect. By doing so, the bulging or herniated disc material is sucked back toward the center of the disc, taking the pressure off the nerves.

The second technique is called Active Release Techniques (ART). Every team in every professional sport has a chiropractor who specializes in ART. This technique is extremely effective in breaking up myofascial adhesions, or small areas of scar tissue in the muscles, and is especially useful for treating sports injuries, back and neck pain, TMJ, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis and golfer’s elbow, headaches/migraines, knee pain, plantar fasciitis, and even pregnancy-related back pain.

What I Love Most about the Field

It’s a privilege to have treated and formed relationships with some truly remarkable individuals, especially rabbanim. However, what I cherish most about my job is the opportunity to make a kiddush Hashem.

The visibility from my book has allowed me to treat patients from diverse backgrounds, some coming from different cities and countries. One patient, a devoted Evangelical Christian, traveled from Jamaica to New York for three months to see me for chronic lower back pain. We engaged in many enlightening conversations, and she told me that I was the first Jew she had ever met.

She also related that her church congregation prays for Israel every Sunday. After experiencing my kindness and care, she vowed to pray not just for Israel but for all Jews for the rest of her life.

Moments like these are the most rewarding aspects of my job.

What I Find Most Challenging About the Field

Sometimes we’re so overwhelmed with patients that I consider hiring more chiropractors. Other times, I feel the pressure to bring in more patients to keep busy. Just like anything in life, it can be hard finding the right balance.

I’ll Never Forget When

I’ve been blessed to treat many famous people and professional athletes from all around the world, although HIPAA laws prevent me from discussing them. One patient I can discuss, because he gave me permission, was Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein ztz”l.

In 2019, I helped start an organization called DailyGiving.org. The mission is to get Jews from around the world to give one dollar of tzedakah every day. We then distribute the money (we’re now giving over $5 million a year) to a different incredible Jewish nonprofit daily.

Rabbi Wallerstein was a huge proponent of Daily Giving and encouraged thousands to join. He was truly a giant of a man; he would do anything to save another Yid. I witnessed some truly unbelievable things while he was in my office.

One time, he had just arrived at my office (which, depending on traffic, could take anywhere from one to two hours from Brooklyn) when a troubled girl called and said her non-Jewish boyfriend was beating her. He instructed her to stay where she was, and he immediately left my office to get her out of there. He knew how to handle every situation, yet he was the most regular guy you could imagine. Treating him and other prominent gedolim that he sent my way has been the biggest honor of my career.

Something I Wish People Knew About Chiropractors

People don’t realize how long and intense the training is. It’s also a very physically demanding job.

How I’ve Seen the Field Change Over the Years

Medical doctors used to have a negative perception of chiropractors, but this perception has changed significantly over the last 20 to 25 years. In fact I have over 75 medical doctors who come to me themselves as patients and refer countless others.

My Advice for People Starting Out

When I was finishing chiropractic school, I was advised to shadow as many different chiropractors as possible. Most chiropractors are very kind and generous with their time and will allow you to observe them for an afternoon. This experience will help you quickly determine what you want to do, as well as what specialties in the field you don’t want to do.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 963)

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