There are many questions that patients frequently ask when they are considering visiting a chiropractor. Is chiropractic care safe? How should you choose which doctor to see? What conditions can a chiropractor help with? What type of education or training is a chiropractor required to have? What type of care will a chiropractor provide?
What is chiropractic care?
First, let's define what chiropractic care consists of. A chiropractor's primary goal is to help their patient achieve a pain-free life, free of drugs and invasive medical treatments. Physical assessments are made for each patient and treatments are tailored to treat the cause of the patient's pain. Treatments include manual adjustments, spinal manipulation, massage, and micro impulse technology. Chiropractors will also educate their patients about spinal health. Exercises will sometimes be prescribed along with dietary suggestions to keep a patient feeling their best. Chiropractic care is also helpful for injury prevention. Muscles joints and ligaments can become stiff and tight for many different reasons and are more prone to injury. Regular chiropractic care can help you achieve more flexibility to reduce your risk of injuries resulting from stiffness.
What should you expect in your first visit?
Each practice will have their own routines, but the overall care you receive should be universal, regardless of which chiropractor you see. Health questionnaires as well as medical paperwork will most likely be your first step. Your doctor will want to know about all your aches and pains as well as any existing medical conditions you have. This will help your chiropractor better understand what care you will need. It's also important to be thorough because it will help your chiropractor to avoid any possibility of injuring you during treatments.
Next, your chiropractor will perform a physical examination to better understand what your physical needs are. Imaging, such as x-rays and other scans, will likely be taken to more accurately asses any misalignments that need to be addressed. After the images are developed, your chiropractor will sit down with you and discuss what is going on with your body. Together you can develop a treatment plan. The chiropractor will also likely ask if you have any questions or concerns about treatment and will address those right away.
How safe is chiropractic care?
Chiropractic care is really safe. While there is no way to truly be sure how many people are actually injured by chiropractic care, because there may be misreported or unreported cases, when performed by a well-trained, licensed physician, chiropractic treatments are exceptionally safe. According to Web MD, about 22 million Americans visit a chiropractor annually, and only .08% of all patients have reported injury from chiropractic care. The risks associated with adjustments are rare, especially when compared to more invasive or drug-rich regimens.
in addition, many patients who claim injury by chiropractic care could have already been injured by a pre-existing disorder. Injuries reported from chiropractic care can include herniated disc, compression of nerves in the lower spinal column and a certain type of stroke.
The bottom line is that a chiropractor will have performed a complete physical examination before performing any treatments. If a chiropractor finds that your symptoms or injuries are likely to cause further injury or pain, they will refer you to a medical professional rather than risk your health. It's also part of your responsibility to your own safety to be completely honest with the chiropractor about your medical history. A chiropractor is highly trained to help you, but if you are dishonest, you could potentially be harming yourself.
What is the best way to select a chiropractor?
When selecting a chiropractor, a great place to start is by asking your primary care physician. A spine specialist may also have a list of trusted chiropractors to refer their patients to. Also, you could try asking friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Recommendations can be valuable, but as with any type of service, you should be sure that the chiropractor you choose suits your specific needs.
Online reviews of chiropractors and their practices are also readily available and should be considered. When you choose a chiropractor it's also important that you feel that they are listening to you and will work with you to treat your pain. You can conduct phone interviews with potential physicians or request a consultation. If you don't feel comfortable with the chiropractor or confident about their procedures, you won't have a positive experience.
What kind of education and training does a chiropractor have?
Chiropractors are required to earn a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. The post graduate professional degree takes four years to earn. According to the American Chiropractic Association, there are only 15 accepted chiropractic programs approved by the Council on Chiropractic Education. This agency is certified by the department of education. This means that not only is Chiropractic education rigorous and extensive, but exclusive. Of the 4 years of training required, 2 years are basic sciences. 2 years of chiropractic training include the clinical sciences. Chiropractic students are also required to complete national board exams. They are also tested in three practical skill areas including:
- diagnostic imaging
- chiropractic technique
- case management.
An internship of 1 year at a college clinic is also required for training. Course work for chiropractic doctors includes 300+ hours with a minimum of 5 years in practice, followed by completion of a written and oral examination. Chiropractic certifications include orthopedics, neurology, radiology, sports medicine, rehabilitation, nutrition, and family practice. By the time their training and licensing is complete, a chiropractor has a world of knowledge and training at their fingertips, so rest assured that they know what they are doing.
What conditions can be treated by a chiropractor?
Conditions treated by chiropractors are many and varied. A doctor of chiropractic should be able to care for patients of all ages and a wide variety of health conditions. The average patient is primarily searching for chronic neck and back pain relief. Chronic pain is pain that does not go away after three months and does not respond to medication and other treatments. After a car accident, patients can be treated for whiplash and other soft tissue or skeletal injuries caused by impact.
Injuries caused by a physical accident, such as a strain or other injury caused by heavy lifting, can be treated through chiropractic care. Chiropractors also treat sports injuries and can help athletes avoid future injury through regular care. Chiropractors can help patients with sciatica, pain that starts in the lower back and travels down either one or both legs caused by nerve compression. Herniated discs are another common injury that chiropractors are able to help their patients with. Migraines and other headaches typically have underlying causes that a chiropractor would certainly be able to help with. Treatments for headaches can be for immediate pain relief as well as prevention of future episodes.
Chiropractors can help you with many conditions; they can help you reach a happier, pain-free, drug-free life. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Smith today and get started on your way to a healthier, happier you.