For help managing lower back, shoulder, and neck pain, as well as managing headaches, many people turn to chiropractors. In fact, an estimated 35 million Americans are treated by chiropractors each year. Chiropractic is a popular profession that more and more people are using to relieve body and joint pain, but what exactly is it?
What is chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a holistic health profession based on the foundation that the body has the ability to heal itself without surgery or drugs when there is proper alignment of the musculoskeletal structure, specifically the spine. By restoring the spine’s mobility, this alleviates irritation to the spinal nerve. Considered an alternative or complementary medicine, chiropractic is a hands-on, drug-free approach used as a treatment for pain relief. Learn more about how chiropractors can help you.
8 tips for choosing a chiropractor
Finding the right specialist for your needs can sometimes be difficult and overwhelming. Through these 8 tips, you will be well on your way to knowing how to find the best chiropractor for you.
1. Define your needs
The first step in seeking out a chiropractor is recognizing why you need one. The chiropractic specialty focuses on neuromuscular disorders such as back pain, neck pain, joint pain in the arms and legs, headaches, etc., and their effects on general health. Chiropractic care can be helpful for people who experience sports injuries, car accident injuries, arthritic pain, and more. You might want to see a chiropractor for an acute issue, such as an injury after a traumatic event, or for preventative care to avoid future pain and injuries.
Chiropractic may be used in conjunction with other treatment forms for conditions that also affect the musculoskeletal system. However, if chiropractic care isn’t suitable for a patient, chiropractors can refer patients to other health care providers.
2. Start your search
Once you’ve decided you want to seek chiropractic care, it’s time to start searching. You can start on Google or Yelp for a broad search, or to make it easier you can search for chiropractors right on Wellistic for providers in your area. Through the Wellistic search, you can specify your needs by location, condition, and more.
3. Read referrals and reviews
Seeking out recommendations or testimonials will give you a better picture of the kind of experience you can expect to have with your desired provider. What are existing patients saying about their experience? What kind of standards do you want to make sure your chiropractor meets? Is this provider covered by your insurance? These are all questions you want to answer before you have your first appointment.
4. Decide what kind of chiropractor you want and research the procedures they may perform
Determining a chiropractor that’s right for you will mean deciding what kind of qualities you want to prioritize in your provider. Would you be more comfortable having a female chiropractor performing your treatment? Do you want someone with more experience? You should ask yourself these questions during your search.
During a chiropractic session, your provider may examine, diagnose, or treat a condition, and may supplement manual therapy with rehabilitative exercises, relaxation techniques, and nutritional, dietary, and lifestyle counseling. Manual therapy may include stretching and sustained pressure to specific joint manipulations, but perhaps the most common therapeutic technique that chiropractors use is spinal manipulation.
5. Understand what spinal manipulation is
Through spinal adjustments or manipulation, chiropractors seek to restore and improve joint pain and function that was originally restricted by tissue injury. A tissue injury may be caused by a single traumatic event such as falling or lifting a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses such as sitting with poor posture for a long period of time.
In a spinal manipulation, a chiropractor uses their hands or a small instrument to apply controlled, sudden force to joints that have restricted mobility. This manipulation in turn improves range and quality of motion, as well as alleviates pain and muscle tightness. Other parts of the body can also be treated by manipulation.
6. Check their credentials
Making sure the provider you choose is qualified to take care of you means checking their credentials. In the United States, chiropractors must have at least three years of undergraduate education and then enroll in a four-year Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree program at an institution accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education. Chiropractors must also pass a National Board exam to receive a state license to practice. All states require chiropractors to take continuing education classes; however, the types of services they are allowed to provide varies from state to state.
7. Know what to expect
At a typical chiropractic session, you can expect to meet with a chiropractor who will discuss your pain and symptoms as well as case history with you. Then, they will perform a physical exam and may use lab tests or diagnostic imaging such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans to develop a diagnosis. Once a diagnosis is reached, a chiropractor will work with you to create a treatment plan that may require several routine visits. During a visit, you may lay on a table while a chiropractor places you in specific positions to treat certain areas. You also may receive advice on home care, lifestyle modifications and exercise instructions.
8. Understand the risks
Overall, chiropractic care is considered a safe, effective treatment for issues like low back pain, neck pain, and headaches when performed by a trained professional. However, there are some rare risks to receiving chiropractic care. These risks include a herniated disk, compression of nerves, or a certain type of stroke after neck manipulation.
People with certain medical conditions such as severe osteoporosis, cancer in the spine, numbness or tingling in arms or legs, an increased risk of stroke, or a known bone abnormality in the neck, should not seek chiropractic treatment.
9. Bring questions to ask
Whenever you are considering a health or wellness professional, doing your homework beforehand is essential to having the best, most comfortable experience possible. Once you finally make that initial appointment, bring any questions you have with you. Ask about your specific condition or injury. Ask about how you can help yourself through recovery or maintain preventative care. Your health is in your hands, so make sure you provide yourself with an experience and the answers you deserve!
Ready to try chiropractic care for yourself? Find a chiropractor near me.