Chiropractors in Australia are a nationally registered and a regulated health care profession. Chiropractic is a drug and surgery free modality of treatment concerned with the diagnosis, management and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system; this includes the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health. It is based on the teachings of Galen and Hippocrates and the premise that the body can respond appropriately to its environment provided that the nervous system is free of interference. This was further developed by Palmer which lead to a focus on the spinal column and its functioning. In summary, chiropractors focus on the detection and correction of aberrant spinal function and its subsequent effect on how the nervous system controls and coordinates the body in response to its environment.
In Australia, chiropractors are educated in the University sector at an under-graduate and post-graduate level and there is a growing research and evidence base not only in Australia but through international federations. As with other healthcare professions, there are internationally and nationally recognised standards of qualification to enable practice in Australia and this is part of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.
Chiropractors provide patient-centred care and work in partnership with the consumers of chiropractic services. This includes using shared decision making through the informed consent process and using communication strategies that are tailored to the needs and preferences of the patient. Good clinical decision making takes account of patients’ preferences and values, clinicians values and experiences to provide treatment that maximises benefit with minimum risk of harm. This includes referral to other healthcare providers when indicated to ensure the best and most appropriate treatment and health outcomes.