A chiropractor is a health professional who treats conditions related to your bones, muscles and joints (musculoskeletal problems).

Who is a chiropractor?

Chiropractors focus on treating your spine and nervous system to relieve pain and improve the function of nerves, muscles and joints. They use a range of methods to diagnose problems including hands-on clinical examinations and diagnostic imaging such as x-rays and MRIs.

A common procedure performed by chiropractors is spinal manipulation (chiropractic adjustment) to restore joint mobility. Manipulation of joints and tissues helps restore mobility and alleviate pain and muscle tightness.

Other treatments include things like:

  • mobilisation (gentle movements of your joint to increase its range of movement)
  • exercises
  • application of heat or ice
  • stretching
  • massage
  • activity modification (how to make day-to-day changes to alleviate discomfort and enable recovery, eg, ergonomic desk set-up, suitable mattresses)
  • lifestyle advice (healthy eating and physical activity advice).

What can a chiropractor help with?

A chiropractor can help with:

  • back pain
  • neck pain
  • headaches
  • whiplash
  • strains and sprains from daily activities
  • overuse injuries
  • work and sport-related injuries
  • arthritis
  • restricted movement in your back, shoulders, neck or limbs

You don’t need a referral to see a chiropractor. You can just call and make an appointment. During an examination a chiropractor will:

  • conduct a thorough medical history
  • check your vital signs (eg, blood pressure, pulse)
  • visually check for spinal curves or other indicators
  • use their hands to feel your spine and the muscles and other soft tissues that support it
  • conduct orthopaedic examinations (including measuring a joint’s range of movement)
  • conduct neurological examinations (eg, test reflexes and numbness).

Based on your examination, you will receive a diagnosis, treatment plan and options. They will refer you to other health practitioners when necessary.

Where does a chiropractor work?

Most chiropractors are self-employed and have private practices. The remainder are employed at:

  • natural healthcare clinics
  • education institutes as teachers
  • chiropractic institutions doing research.

What training does a chiropractor have?

Chiropractors must complete a Diploma in Applied Science then a Bachelor of Chiropractor (BChiro) degree.

A chiropractic degree usually takes 5 years to complete, leading to either a bachelors’ or masters’ degree. Students at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic explore the principles of chiropractic with a particular focus on the synergistic relationship between its philosophy, science and art.

Learn more

Chiropractor Careers NZ 
New Zealand Chiropractic Board 
New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association 
New Zealand College of Chiropractic


  1. Chiropractic Better Health Channel
  2. Chiropractor Careers NZ
  3. New Zealand Chiropractic Board
  4. New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association
  5. New Zealand College of Chiropractic  
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.