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Understanding Chiropractic Care in Alberta

​Doctors of chiropractic (chiropractors) are educated and trained to assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent problems of the spine and musculoskeletal (MSK) system (joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves).

As experts in spine and MSK health, chiropractors can also:

  • recommend exercises
  • give you information about nutrition and a healthy diet
  • give you information about general health and staying as healthy as possible

What does a chiropractor do?

Chiropractors can help if you have:

  • back, neck pain
  • joint pain (shoulders, knees, hips, ankles, wrists)
  • headaches and migraines
  • a strain or sprain
  • an injury from a motor vehicle collision, including whiplash
  • a sports injury
  • a workplace injury

Your chiropractor can help problems you’re having right now (acute) and problems that can get worse over time (chronic).

A chiropractor’s primary treatment is manipulative therapy (often called an adjustment). This is a procedure with precise, directed movement of a joint. It helps decrease your pain and/or discomfort and helps you get back your range of motion and improve it. Sometimes, chiropractors also use other therapies like mobilization, acupuncture, massage, heat, laser, and ultrasound.

When feeling better, many people keep seeing their chiropractor to help prevent other injuries. Chiropractors don’t prescribe medicine or offer surgery, but will refer to other healthcare providers if needed.

Is it safe to see a chiropractor?

Research shows that seeing a chiropractor is safe and it works well to help people with spine and MSK-related problems and health conditions.

What happens during my first visit?

On your first visit, you’ll need to fill out a medical history form. You’ll review this information with your chiropractor before you’re examined. The chiropractor will do a physical exam and you may also need an ultrasound or x-ray. After your exam and tests, your chiropractor will recommend the treatment that’s best for you.

What do I need to know about seeing a chiropractor?

Cost and Insurance

You don’t need a referral to see a chiropractor. Most insurance plans have coverage for chiropractic. Check with your insurance provider to find out about your coverage.

Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) Coverage

Many chiropractors in Alberta are WCB-authorized. In Alberta, chiropractic is one of the best treatments for injured workers. About 95% of people who are hurt at work and see a chiropractor are satisfied with their outcome.

Motor Vehicle Collision Coverage

In Alberta, your car insurance covers you for at least 10 chiropractic treatments for minor injuries under the Alberta Diagnostic Treatment Protocols Regulation. Treatments for minor injuries are billed directly to your insurance company, so you don’t have to pay and submit receipts to get your money back. Tell your chiropractor if you were injured in a motor vehicle collision so the right forms are filled out and your treatment costs are covered.

For more serious injuries, every Albertan has $750 of chiropractic coverage. These benefits depend on your insurance policy.

Coverage for Seniors (Older Adults)

Seniors in Alberta can get funding for chiropractic through the government-sponsored Coverage for Seniors Health Benefit Plan.

Seniors can get up to $200 per benefit year (July 1 to June 30) for chiropractic services. There is a limit of $25 per visit and all services must be from a licensed chiropractor.

The Government of Alberta gives premium-free Alberta Blue Cross coverage to adults who are 65 years or older and their dependents for health-related services not covered by Alberta Healthcare. Over 90% of older adults in Alberta already use this plan (called Group 66). If you aren’t part of this plan, contact Alberta Blue Cross.

Seniors who aren’t part of the above plan should also contact Alberta Health.

How does someone become a chiropractor?

A chiropractor has completed at least 7 years of post-secondary education, which includes a specific chiropractic program from an accredited degree-granting institution. Their education includes hands on clinical experience with direct supervision. During the clinical experience they assess, diagnose, treat, and refer people as needed.

What does a chiropractor need to practice in Alberta?

To practice in Alberta, a chiropractor must graduate from an accredited chiropractic program. They must also pass national and provincial competency exams.

Chiropractors must take part in ongoing practice reviews and a yearly competence program, which includes approved seminars. This is to make sure they stay up to date with treatments, skills, and knowledge.

Is there government legislation for chiropractors in Alberta?

Chiropractic is a regulated health profession in Canada. Alberta chiropractors (like doctors and nurses) are governed under the Health Professions Act. They must comply with Standards of Practice determined and enforced by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors.​

Current as of: March 20, 2018

Author: Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors