Find a Chiropractor that's Right for You
So you're ready to find a chiropractor. Good! Let this information lead you to the doctor who will fit best with your communication style and health needs.
You'll want to consider everything from his or her technique to business practices of the clinic itself. And, for fairness, a critic of chiropractic health also weighs in on this page.
With over a quarter of a million chiropractic visits made each year, this alternative health therapy is widely recognized as effective for pain relief. You may even have heard your friends complementing their own doctors' ability to relieve their chronic lower back pain, or neck and shoulder stiffness. Although recommendations from personal friends carry much weight, you may also want to consider closely examining a practitioner in the following six areas:
- Chiropractic technique
- Program guidelines
- Use of x-rays
- Education and Qualifications
- Clinic's business practices
- Communication Style
Considerations for Choosing a Chiropractor
|Consideration||Questions to ask||Warning signs|
|Technique||hands or instrument?|
deep, joint-popping movement or low-force adjustment?
|"special" new technique|
ability to "cure" other diseases/chronic conditions
|how frequently would I be coming? trial period? refer to another practitioner?||treating every patient identically|
recommending a lengthy (3, 6, or 12-month) treatment plan right away
|X-ray Use||recommended? if so, why?|
consider age and past trauma
|no pain, but x-ray shows problems|
other tests recommended
Completed the National Board exam?
years in practice?
|Chiropractic Board of Examiners knows if any disciplinary actions have been taken against a doctor.|
Covered by your insurance?
|Explore their marketing approaches--health fairs, or free analyses at intervals. No promises should be made until after proper examination.|
|friendly and courteous? fully answer questions? Are you comfortable with the bedside manner?||Feeling compelled to accept first doctor you interview.|
"Depending on the nature and extent of the specific back problem, a few visits to the chiropractor should help the patient feel noticeably better. Within one to four weeks, the pain for non-complex musculoskeletal conditions should typically be reduced by 40 to 80%, and the frequency of visits should decrease as the patient’s pain and function improve."
- Kelly Andrews, Doctor of Chiropractic (DC)
photo-link: Article on chiropractic technique by Dr. Andrews. Close window to return here.
Dr. Andrews goes on to say that if the patient's symptoms are not improving within one to four week, then other possibilities should be considered, such as:
- Another mechanical problem that's been overlooked
- Repeated ergonomic stress is reproducing the pain
- A complicating condition that may require further diagnostic evaluation, or may respond to another form of treatment
Retired psychiatrist Stephen Barrett warns those in search of a chiropractor to watch out for practitioners who:
- treat all patients identically
- prescribe dietary supplements, homeopathic products or herbal products
- use terms such as "subluxations" or "nerve interference" as underlying cause of disease
- offer body fat analysis, blood cell analysis, saliva testing, inclinometry, or other "dubious diagnostic" procedure
- also use acupuncture, allergy testing or magnetic therapy
Three steps are advised by Barrett: ask your medical doctor for names of those deemed trustworthy, "whose practice is limited to conservative treatment of back pain and other musculoskeletal problems." Find one with membership in National Association of Chiropractic Medicine or the Canadian Academy of manipulative Therapists. And, finally, use your own judgment to explore the practitioner's attitudes and practice patterns.
Pros and Cons
Reading words of wisdom from both Andrews and Barrett gives you a more complete picture of what to look for to find the best chiropractor for you--and to avoid making a bad choice! We hope this information has been helpful in your search for healthy alternatives.
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