So you want to choose a good chiropractor? Figuring out who to pick is important, because your health is your most valuable asset. You want to find someone who can help you achieve your goals, no matter what those may be.
Because the relationship between you may be a long one, and because it is a physically close relationship (chiropractic is hands on healing), choosing someone you trust is crucial.
Chiropractic ServicesThere are many different adjusting techniques; some are done with the chiropractor's hands, some are done using instruments or tools. Which technique you prefer is a personal choice, and any good doctor will respect your decisions. When you find a good chiropractor, they will adjust you in a way that respects your wishes and accomplishes the job.
There are advantages to manual adjusting (with hands) as well as advantages to instrument adjusting (using tools).
Manual adjusting can have incredibly fast results, with noticeable relief almost immediately. It is also the technique that scares the most people, and if you've ever heard anyone say "I don't want you to do my neck" they're probably referring to a hands on adjustment. When you find a good chiropractor, they will talk with you about the different adjusting methods used in their office. I'll talk about fears in a little bit, so hold that thought.
Adjusting tools have gotten extremely sophisticated and more effective as technology advances. From simple spring-loaded Activator type devices that send a quick thrust into the spine, to more advanced tools that send a series of pulses, to computerized systems that monitor the body's response to the adjustment, finding an adjusting technique that works for you is easier than ever. And for those with severe health concerns, like osteoporosis, or for children, these tools can make the world of difference in their experience at the chiropractor's.
There are also philosophical differences between doctors, and while it brings great diversity and new ideas to us doctors, it can be confusing for patients. State laws also differ, allowing doctors to do physiotherapy modalities (like chiropractic laser therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation) and nutritional counseling in some states, and other states allow adjusting of the body only.
Here in California, we are allowed to diagnose and treat any disease as long as we don't prescribe any over the counter or prescription drug, and we are prohibited from puncturing the skin in any way. So many doctors here do nutritional counseling, or use homeopathics or herbs to help their patients.
Tips on How to Find a Good ChiropractorTo find a great doctor, ask your friends and family if they are seeing a chiropractor. Ask about their results and what they like about the doctor, staff and office.
You might also want to ask about any tangible changes they've noticed in their overall health since seeing the chiropractor, above and beyond the reasons they started going.
Most doctors will let you meet with them for a few minutes to discuss your health concerns and get a feel for how they work. These consultations should be taken advantage of, and feel free to ask the doctor which adjusting style they prefer. Also, if you know your goals (pain control vs. improving your health) it will give the doctor a better idea of which of their services will appeal to you.
A word about money and insurance...
Most doctors accept some sort of insurance reimbursement as a courtesy to you. Insurance is a game that is hard to figure out, because the insurance companies make up the rules to better their finances, not your health.
If you really want to improve your health, you are going to pay for it. The long term savings you get will more than make up for what comes out of your pocket, and the improved quality of life does, too. As a nation our health has plummeted, even though we spend more money on health care than any other country. The insurance industry is set up to handle crisis care. It isn't really designed to get you healthy; it's designed to help you once you are sick.
Chiropractic care falls into the "health" category, not the "crisis" category, and reimbursements here are all over the board. Some insurance companies have comprehensive plans, some offer just the bare minimum. Find out in advance which type of coverage you have, and your chiropractor can work with you to make your care fit into your health budget.
Fears about the AdjustmentThere are so many misconceptions about the chiropractic adjustment. From "is it safe" to "the chiropractor can hurt me" to "adjustments cause strokes," people are more afraid of this than of taking an Ibuprofen, but the Ibuprofen is actually more dangerous (there is a 1 in 400 chance that medicine will cause your tummy and intestines to bleed).
Let's talk about the worst case scenario: strokes. There are reported incidences of strokes happening following a chiropractic adjustment. Every procedure has potential risks, but the risks of a stroke are somewhere in the 1 in 1 million and up range.
Your chances of having a stroke from an adjustment are MUCH higher if that adjustment is done by a physical therapist (not licensed or trained), a medical doctor (not trained), or some other provider. Chiropractors spend years studying anatomy and how the joints of the spine work together in order to make safe and effective adjustments. Your chances of a stroke from yoga or from tipping your head back to get it washed at the salon are almost as good.
When you find a good chiropractor, they will do tests to determine if you are at risk of a stroke. After reviewing your health history and any risk factors you have, your chiropractor will determine the best adjusting technique for your case. Giving your chiropractor a thorough, accurate health history is important.
Once You Find a Good ChiropractorOnce you've met with a chiropractor and decided to work with them, the real work begins. Whether you are looking for short term relief or long term corrective care (this entails restoring curves to your most sensitive body part, the spine, to maintain it's health), your doctor will likely give you homework in the form of stretches and exercises. These are designed to help your body hold your adjustments and correct any muscle imbalances that are contributing to your problem.
Doing them will help you heal faster. 😉
Your chiropractor may also make nutritional recommendations. Here is where eating whole, unprocessed foods can make a difference. You truly are what you eat, and by eating healthy, you give your body a better chance of healing.
I hope you now feel armed with the information you need to find a good chiropractor.
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