What is chiropractic care and how can it help me?
If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from neck and back pain daily, you understand the effect that this nagging type of pain can have on your body, your mind, and your quality of life. Chronic pain and inflammation are a common complaint that few doctors have answers for, and the prospect of living with low energy, stiff and immobile joints, and widespread pain seems like a dire prognosis.
What is chiropractic care?
A chiropractor is a highly trained medical professional who uses hands-on spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments to eliminate subluxations. A subluxation, or misalignment of the vertebrae in the spine, can cause compression on the delicate nerves that run along the spinal column. The theory and science behind chiropractic adjustments suggests that correcting these subluxations eases pressure on this nervous system highway, allowing messages to flow to and from all systems of the body easily and efficiently. When nerves along the spine become pinched or compromised, any messages that were intended to be sent along this highway become mixed up, and the part of the body that they were intended for cannot function as efficiently as it could. Symptoms will worsen over time, and if left untreated, these malfunctions can develop into chronic diseases and other conditions. Working with a chiropractor can ease pressure on these nerves and allow them to send and receive messages as they should, thus correcting other imbalances in the body.
Are chiropractors qualified medical professional? What kind of training do they receive?
In addition to earning an undergraduate degree, a chiropractor will have to attend intensive training at one of several chiropractic programs. During their specialized training, they will complete over 4,000 hours of training including courses in anatomy, biochemistry, clinical neurology, radiology, diagnosis, and chiropractic manipulation techniques. Upon completion of training, a chiropractor has to undergo a rigorous period of understudy hours under the supervision of trained professionals, as well as a lengthy examination and licensing process that can take several tries to successfully complete. It is not uncommon for a chiropractor to spend seven years or more in training for their career, so finding and keeping patients and completing successful treatment becomes a priority once they have graduated. Rest assured, a chiropractor is well trained to provide you with the proper care and services needed to restore your total health and wellness.
What will seeing a chiropractor involve?
When you first begin seeing a chiropractor, they will likely take images of your spine and perform a thorough physical examination. They might ask you about your family medical history and ask you to disclose any conditions you are presently experiencing. They may also wish to know a bit about your diet and any prescription medications you might be taking. Getting a comprehensive picture about what you have experienced thus far will allow them to make more educated decisions about treatment for your pain.
A typical chiropractic treatment plan involves spinal manipulation and adjustment, as well as nutritional/supplement counseling and rehabilitation exercises. The overall goal of quality chiropractic care is complete restoration of range of motion, as well as freedom from pain. If you are new to chiropractic care, ask questions to gain understanding, and feel free to partner with your professional to design a program that works for you.
Doesn’t a chiropractor just treat back and neck issues?
You might think that correcting subluxations and applying pressure to a few meridians is all a chiropractor can do, but do you realize that the entire body relies on the spine for balance and free exchange of information? The health of the spine is intimately connected to your total health and wellness. Here are just a few of the benefits that you can stand to gain from regular chiropractic care:
1. A reduction in chronic pain and inflammation
Once subluxations and muscle tension along the spine are corrected, your body responds in kind by lowering the levels of pain and inflammation that are experienced. You feel relaxed, you’ll have more energy, and even your mental capacities will have been given a boost to a free flow exchange of information along your nervous system.
2. Greater range of motion and flexibility
The regeneration of tissues and restoration of range of motion provides you with greater range of movement. Bending, twisting, turning, and performing your daily tasks will all be easier with regular chiropractic care. Commit to at least one session monthly for more energy and the ability to take on all of your daily activities, no matter how physical they may be!
3. Improved circulation
Chiropractic care improves circulation by treating joint pressure and dysfunction in the spine, and restores circulation by promoting a free exchange of biochemical messages via your nervous system. Circulatory problems such as hypertension, nerve damage, dizziness, and headaches become a thing of the past as blood begins to circulate more freely in the body, bringing life-giving nutrients, vitamins and minerals throughout.
4. Speedy recovery processes
When the body is in a state of balance, its natural recovery processes are allowed to work as they were intended. Our tissues have the ability to regenerate ourselves, and our cells can repair and renew if given the proper nutrients and tools for healing. Getting regular chiropractic adjustments allows your body to do the important work of recovery that is vital to good health.
5. Improved mental health and well being
Important biochemical processes that govern mental health begin in the brain, and these signals are sent along the nervous system via the spine, flooding the body with messages of health and healing–in a healthy body, that is. When nerves are pinched along the spine, these messages of mental fortitude are compromised, and it can result in mixed signals within the brain. As a result, our mental and emotional health suffer. Bringing the spine and the body back into a state of “ease” once more allows for those correct messages and biochemical processes to govern our mental and emotional health.
6. Improved immunity
The main function of our immune system is to protect and fight against infectious organisms, barring their entry into the body. This delicate network of proteins, white blood cells, and organs all work in harmony to keep us as clean as we can possibly be in this toxic world.
Chiropractic care works by stimulating and boosting the health of the immune system through digestive processes; certain subluxation corrections are directly tied to the digestive tract, and bringing these back into balance restores the strength and vitality of the immune system.
7. Lower stress and less anxiety
Chronic pain results in stress, anxiety and depression; through elimination of this pain, your body is restored to balance once more, and these undesirable symptoms are eliminated. You’ll feel more relaxed, more balanced, and ready to handle what life throws at you.
8. Improved digestion and elimination
Strong links exist between the lower lumbar vertebrae in the spine and the digestive system. When these areas of the body are blocked, it is difficult to digest and eliminate waste properly. Easing up pressure on the vertebrae in the lower part of the spine assists in regulating digestion and elimination processes, helping to detoxify the body naturally.
9. Improved respiratory health and function
Targeted manipulation along the upper part of the spine helps to improve lung function, increasing both strength and capacity. It can also help reduce inflammatory responses that lead to the development of conditions like COPD, asthma, and allergies. As a result, more oxygen is able to flow freely throughout the body, cleansing and restoring cellular repair and renewal.
10. Prevention of chronic diseases and conditions that rob us of health
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—chiropractic care can help correct biochemical balances and release toxins that, over time, could contribute to the development of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. When all systems of the body are working in harmony with one another, it becomes difficult for any dis”ease” to take hold.
Okay…I’m convinced. Now what?
Once you have determined that chiropractic care would be an excellent addition to your self care regime, you may be faced with the task of choosing the right professional for you. With the number of chiropractors available, how can you make sure that you find the right one for you and your unique needs?
How can I find a chiropractor near me?
Selecting a chiropractor does not have to be a daunting process. With a few simple steps and some knowledge about your needs and preferences, you’ll be on your way to finding the perfect fit in no time. Follow these simple steps for finding your perfect match:
1. Identify a list of your needs and desires
Much like dating, you can’t find a good match if you don’t know what you are looking for. You will need to identify some of the following, and then formulate your search criteria to find someone that fits the bill:
- What conditions are you looking to treat?
- What kinds of care are you comfortable with?
- Will your insurance plan be accepted by the office?
- Do their proposed schedule and hours fit into yours?
- Are they available for emergency care?
- Are they affiliated with a local hospital or surgeon to provide ongoing care?
- Do they have professional associations?
- Are they qualified to practice?
- Are they within an acceptable driving distance?
Using this list that you have formulated will help you narrow down the list of available options, and provide you more clarity in choosing a few qualified candidates to look at.
2. Get referrals
Ask your friends, family, and even your primary doctor for a list of qualified candidates that can enhance your wellness plan. If someone you know has had personal experience with a practitioner, it is likely that they will pass on the name of someone they have been satisfied with, as well as provide you with valuable information as to who to steer clear of. Trusting your network of friends and family to point you in the right direction is one way to begin the process of finding the best chiropractor for you.
3. Research those credentials
It is easier than ever to do a bit of homework and research a doctor’s credentials on the internet. Unfortunately, it is also quite simple to falsify qualifications; a practitioner may seem legit at first glance, and upon further inspection you find that they have malpractice suits or expired licenses on their record. Looking at credentials, and reading testimonials from those who have received chiropractic services will give you a clearer picture of whether they have been able to maintain a quality practice.
4. Evaluate their level of experience and expertise
Spinal manipulation is no joke; only a certified and trained chiropractor should be performing work on those delicate vertebrae. While the road to professional training and competency takes time and several years of experience, you alone get to decide how much training is needed in order for you to feel comfortable receiving care from a practitioner. How much is enough? 5 years….10….20? Determine the magic number for you, and look for those chiropractors that have maintained practice with proper qualifications for at least that amount of time.
5. Consider your desired gender
A chiropractor is one office that you may be required to bare it all in order to receive care. You’ll want to feel comfortable doing so; gender may play a factor in your decision. If you are a woman, will you be more comfortable having a female practitioner? Similarly, will a male doctor provide you with the ease needed for a trusting care relationship to develop? Decide whether this is an important factor for you, and look for someone who meets this need as well.
6. Look for specializations
Quite often, a chiropractor will add additional services and certifications to their license to make themselves more marketable to potential clients. Someone with surgical experience, nutritional counseling and consultation services, and massage therapy may be more desirable to you than one who simply corrects subluxations and performs x-rays. Be sure to ask how the cost of these specializations is covered, and decide if it is something that you want to add to your care plan.
7. Ask about telehealth capabilities
There are some good things that are coming out of our current COVID-19 restrictions; the evolution of telehealth is making it easier than ever for us to connect with our care practitioners in comfort and convenience. While you cannot receive a subluxation correction over FaceTime, it is nice to know that you can reach out if you have questions or concerns about your health. Looking for a chiropractor that offers telehealth services might be a factor in how you choose.
8. Consider communication style
We’ve all had uncomfortable situations where a doctor’s bedside or tableside manner is less than comforting or even kind. That is not something most people desire to experience when looking for a long-term care relationship. In this case, setting up a couple of preliminary appointments with chiropractors in your area might give you a good idea of their communication style, as well as whether the two of you will “gel”. Be sure to come in with some questions—that list of criteria that you developed in the formative stages of this process might be a good place to start–and see how well the two of you can carve out a trusting and caring space with just a few moments of time. Many times, this meeting will be more telling than any other research that you have been doing, for it can give both of you a deeper understanding of whether you can work successfully together toward your health and wellness.
9. Know what your insurance will and will not cover
Nothing is quite as frustrating as receiving medical care, only to find out that your insurance does not cover certain products and services that you’ve been offered. Do a little preliminary checking before your first appointment and find out what services your insurance will cover, and what portions of supplemental care will be out of pocket. A little pre-planning will ensure that you find exactly those services that you are looking for.
10. Look for one that is near you!
It is a frustrating experience to find a practitioner that you want to work with, only to find that they are three hours away. Plenty of chiropractors are ready and available to help you that won’t necessitate traveling for half a day to receive care. Establish your limit with regard to how far you’ll drive for a qualified chiropractor’s services, and let that be your limit. It is quite likely that you’ll find someone that meets your needs perfectly that is close to home.
Total body health? Try a chiropractor!
Total body health and wellness starts with the spine—bringing your body into a state of balance will result in proper systemic function, alignment, and better health than you’ve ever experienced. Try chiropractic care, and see how it can dramatically improve your quality of life.