Though you have probably heard the word chiropractor and have an idea about what they do, but you probably don’t know exactly what they do, how they can help the average person and what conditions that are best at treating.
What is a Chiropractor?
A chiropractor is a type of doctor that focuses on the spine. They are not medical doctors and do not have the MD specification. They do, however, have a Doctorate in Chiropractic, a DC, and have more specialized spinal training than a typical MD has. Though MD’s typically work closely with DC’s and DC’s with MD’s, they are two different fields with two different sets of training.
DC’s specialize is holistic and non-surgical treatments to many conditions, including most spinal pain.
What does a Chiropractor Do?
Chiropractors focus on the interconnected relationship between the nervous system and the spine. Most DC’s believe that when the spine is misaligned, which can be extremely common, it can affect the nervous system. By getting regular chiropractic treatments, they think that the structure of the spine can be restored, reducing pressure on specific nerves and improving the health of the individual. They seek to reduce pain and improve function of the spine and nervous system. DCs also try to work with in patient education with exercise and ergonomics.
What is a Chiropractic Adjustment?
One of the most common visits to the chiropractor for the average person is to get a chiropractic adjustment. Claims for an adjustment range from short term pain relief to long term wellness, and there is some debate as to if adjustments are safe or necessary. Though these procedures date back to Ancient Greek times, it is thought that, if not done correctly, it can cause strokes, spinal hernia and rib or vertebrae fractures. A recent medical report, however, states that the benefits of spinal adjustment far outweigh any risks and they suggest ensuring your chiropractor is licensed and to read reviews on that particular office.
An adjustment visit will typically begin with the DC feeling the spine and noting any complaints from the patient. The actual procedure involves the DC gently stretching the spinal joint where it needs lined up or adjusted. Patients may hear popping sounds as small pockets of air in the tissue around the joint pop. The actual procedure doesn’t necessarily hurt, but pain may be felt after the visit, just due to manipulation of the area. Most people get relief from having spinal adjustments and spinal motion is improved.
How to Choose a Good Chiropractor
Given that about 30 million people in the US alone see a chiropractor each year, it is probably beneficial to discuss how to choose a DC. It may sound easy to look up a few DC’s in your area, but practices within the chiropractic community vary greatly and different philosophies on patient care may find you going to two different chiropractors and getting two very different procedures done for the same ailment.
There should be some considerations for you to keep in mind when looking for a chiropractor and the first is how recommended do they come to you? Many people, when looking for spinal or back care will ask their friends, family and even their own doctor to recommend a DC. Since there are 30 million people or more who use chiropractic services, odds are you know someone who can recommend one. Asking your primarily care doctor is also a good idea, as they are familiar with your own medical problems, likes and dislikes and will surely take that into consideration when recommending a colleague.
You should also consider how they act towards you. There are many excellent and qualified DC’s out there, but on the flip side are those who are only interested in selling their products, exercises and supplements for back care. They also may try to diagnose other ailments that have nothing to do with the spine just to get you back in the office. A good chiropractor will speak with you individually before your initial adjustment and explain the procedure fully. They will also recommend you to a specialist if needed and will willingly discuss their background, education and experience with you, if you are curious. They should have a doctorate of Chiropractic and have no bumps on their record. You can usually look this information up online if you are concerned about any licensing problems.
The variety of conditions a chiropractor treats range from lower back pain and whiplash to sciatica and tension. They can be invaluable at treating referred pain in the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and feet. They can also be used for pain in the joints, neck, slipped discs and have even been known to be able to stop headaches that have no other known cause.