In keeping with the multifaceted goal of this blog in that I’d like to engage several different audiences, I figured it’d be a great time to share some information directly with the non-DCs of the board. Most people outside the chiropractic field don’t realize that DCs also have our own recognized (or soon-to-be) specialties of practice. While some actual cross-disciplinary fellowships (in which MDs, DOs, and DCs can all co-exist within the same group) exist, these are few and far between and because I don’t know quite enough about them to speak with any certainty, I’ll limit this discussion mainly to chiropractic-specific specialties, known as Diplomates.
Diplomates, like medical specialties, can take a few extra years of training. Chiropractic specialty training can last anywhere from one to three years. Like their MD counterparts, DCs must also sit for Board Exams and become Board Certified in order to advertise their specialty. These Board Exams aren’t a piece of cake, either, but rather, require a lot of study.
Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board (DACNB) – these chiropractic doctors specialize in neurology. Unlike their MD counterparts, who often perform brain, spine, and nerve surgery, DCs focus more on dealing with what are known as functional problems, disordered function, or imbalance of the nervous system and its pathways. They are trained in various ways to stimulate or calm specific pathways and parts of the nervous system. They have had some major breakthrough successes with disorders previously thought to be hopeless, like Parkinsons, Autism, Meniere’s Disease, vertigo, vestibular problems, seizures, head trauma (after the immediate emergency is stabilized) and more. Although these successes are largely anecdotal right now, the body of genuine research is gaining. This field is one of chiropractic’s most research-based and evidence-based fields.
Diplomate of the American Board of Chiropractic Orthopedics (DABCO) – these doctors specialize in chiropractic orthopedics. Although they don’t do bone or joint surgery, they approach the study of orthopedics from a chiropractic and holistic viewpoint. They focus very much on the structure of the physical body and achieving proper alignment of joints. While many (not all) chiropractic doctors rarely venture beyond the neck and spine, chiropractic orthopedists are equally well-versed in all joints. They frequently have large success with victims of physical trauma, such as those who have been involved in car accidents, falls, and other injuries. This is another extremely evidence-based field.
Diplomate of the American Board of Chiropractic Nutrition (DABCN) – these chiropractic doctors have chosen to complete further chiropractic-oriented study of nutrition. This includes everything from macronutrients (such as fats, carbs, and protein) and micronutrients (such as vitamins, minerals, and other cofactors), to disease prevention. Not only can these doctors take an active role in preventing the onset of chronic, degenerative disease, but they are often able to offer lifestyle suggestions and holistic support alongside conventional medical treatment. They’ve made a huge difference in the lives of many types of patients–diabetics, people with high blood pressure, glandular issues, allergies, heart disease, fatigue, osteoporosis, obesity, and many more.
Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Radiology (DACBR) – these doctors are known as chiropractic radiologists. This training is one of the more structured and extensive post-doctoral chiropractic programs (spanning 3 full years). The chiropractic radiology field is fairly similar to their conventional medical counterparts, and it involves the study of x-ray technique, methods, and interpretation. These doctors often work for chiropractic colleges or perhaps large clinics or maybe even freelance, interpreting x-rays for their own patients or for those of others.
Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Internal Medicine (DABCI) – these doctors take a chiropractic approach to internal medicine. Although what they do does not typically resemble stereotypical bone-setting chiropractic methods, these doctors are extremely skilled at physical examination and diagnosis, and can readily function as a family doctor in an area where conventional medical resources are scarce. Although laws vary widely by state, some states permit DCs to function exactly in this capacity. These doctors think with a wide net, as opposed to a more narrow mindset. As a result, they can work with a wide variety of patients. Although they don’t typically diagnose or treat the variety of disorders they find or suspect, they can work well hand-in-hand with an open-minded medical doctor or function autonomously if their state laws allow them to.
Diplomate of the International Board of Applied Kinesiology (DIBAK) – these doctors focus on Applied Kinesiology, a method of communicating directly with the body using its nervous system in the hopes of uncovering various clues about mysterious underlying problems. AK doctors combine the core components of various complementary therapies (lymphatic, acupoint, etc) to bring a unified and diverse-yet-seamless approach to treating a patient. Although AK works for many different cases, it shines exceptionally in cases where uncovering the underlying issue has proven difficult. This field is very unique and because of its metaphysical, esoteric nature, there is controversy surrounding it.
Diplomate of the International Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics (DICCP) – these doctors are known as chiropractic pediatricians. Although they don’t necessarily replace the need for a conventional medical pediatrician (if your kid is vomiting blood or has swallowed Drano, PLEASE take them to the ER!), they have devoted their practice specifically to treating children. They have additional training in growth and development, as well as specific methods of adjusting small bodies. They can give holistic and nutritional advice with the specific needs of a growing child in mind. They cannot give vaccinations (and many often advocate a vaccine-free existence), but depending on varying state laws, they can provide physical exams for school and athletics.
The above list is not complete; there are more. Some are in varying states of recognition, while others are school-specific. There are sports medicine certifications, vestibular rehab specialties, and needle EMG certifications (Electrodiagnostic Medicine), acupuncture certifications, forensic credentials, upper cervical certifications (among other technique training) and veterinary techniques. In addition, there are other post-doctoral programs open to chiropractic doctors that are not necessarily chiropractic-specific (such as clinical nutrition, Functional Medicine, Anti-Aging, and others.