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Chiropractic Care/FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions


What is chiropractic?

A. Chiropractic is the third-largest doctoral-level health care profession in the western world after medicine and dentistry. Its approach to human health is based on the premise that the relationship between structure and function in the human body is a significant health factor and that relationships between the spinal column and the nervous system are important to the health and well-being of the individual.

How long is a Chiropractor's Education?


Today's doctor or Chiropractic receives an extensive education background. After 3 years of Pre-Chiropractic study candidates for the Doctor of Chiropractic program enter a four year course of study. Chiropractic education is comprised of similar hours of study relative to human physiology as that of a Medical Doctor. Education differs most significantly in that Medical practitioners will receive training in Pharmacology and Surgical procedures and Chiropractors will receive training in the care of the spine. Today's Chiropractor is well trained to assist you reach your optimal health and well-being goals.

Chiropractic Education compared to Medical Education: 

508 Anatomy 540
326 Physiology 240
401 Pathology 360
325 Chemistry 165
114 Microbiology 120
324 Diagnosis 630
112 Neurology 320
148 X-ray 360
144 Psychiatry 60
148 Obstetrics 60
156 Orthopedics 210
2,706 Total 2,887


How is chiropractic different from traditional medicine?

A. Chiropractic treats the patient, not just the symptoms. By using a holistic approach and examining the lifestyle of the patient, the doctor of chiropractic not only addresses the problem, but the cause as well. Chiropractic avoids potentially high- risk solutions such as prescription drugs and surgery. Instead, chiropractic care involves a more natural, conservative approach that promotes self-healing and helps to strengthen the body's natural defense systems.

What is a doctor of chiropractic?

A. Doctors of chiropractic, also known as chiropractors, are physicians who consider humans as integrated beings, but give special attention to the interaction among the musculoskeletal system, the nervous system, and a patient's lifestyle. A chiropractor is licensed to use the title of "Dr." as are medical doctors, osteopaths, dentists, and optometrists.

What training does a Doctor of Chiropractic receive?

A. To obtain a degree as a doctor of chiropractic, a candidate must have a minimum of two years pre-professional college education with a curriculum concentrated in the basic and biological sciences plus four years of resident instruction at a chiropractic college.
Doctors of chiropractic spend years studying and perfecting the art of performing manual therapies, as well as administering other natural, noninvasive treatments. Some chiropractors go on to become board-certified in special areas of study such as sports injuries, orthopedics, radiology, occupational health, and nutrition. For this reason, the doctor of chiropractic is keenly aware of the numerous conservative treatments that will bring about the most rapid recovery.

What is manipulation?

A. Manipulation is treatment using the doctor's hands to apply body leverage and a physical thrust to one joint or a group of related joints to restore normal function. Through the use of manipulation, the doctor seeks to provide relief from symptoms, improve joint and muscle function, and speed recovery.
The most common form of manipulation used by doctors of chiropractic is the spinal adjustment, a very specific form of manipulation requiring a high level of training.

Is manipulation effective?

A. Yes! While there are millions of individual case experiences to support chiropractic's benefits, there are also numerous published studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of spinal manipulation.
A complete literature review is beyond the scope of this site, however you can find many of these studies cited in the companion brochure, '"What Research Shows About Chiropractic Care." Ask your doctor to see a copy of this informative pamphlet filled with excerpts and complete citations of recent scientific studies.

Is manipulation safe?

A. Yes! It is one of the safest drugless, non-surgical treatments available when administered by a qualified doctor of chiropractic who is well-trained and experienced in the use of manipulation.
While any form of health treatment has a degree of inherent risk, there is little danger in chiropractic care administered by a licensed practitioner. In fact, statistics show that patient risk is substantially lower with chiropractic as opposed to many medical procedures where the use of prescription drugs and surgery pose a greater risk.

Is manipulation painful?

A. Manipulation is rarely painful. In fact, most patients feel it relieves pain and tension in their joints. A few patients report slight soreness or a dull aching in the treated muscles or joints, but these are considered normal reactions to the treatment and generally disappear shortly afterward. In the majority of cases, manipulation is painless and the beneficial effects from the treatment are quickly realized.

Which problems are most commonly treated by chiropractic?

A. Because doctors of chiropractic are highly skilled at diagnosing and treating neuromusculoskeletal problems, the most common conditions treated are low-back pain, neck pain, joint pain, headaches, and sciatica. Other conditions often seen include osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and many forms of sprains and strains. Doctors of chiropractic, however, are trained to diagnose and treat a great deal more than just neuromusculoskeletal disorders.

What about consultation and referral?

A. Under chiropractic care, a patient is either treated or referred after the doctor of chiropractic arrives at a diagnosis by way of a comprehensive exam. This initial clinical workup may include an orthopedic and neurological examination, an x-ray examination, laboratory procedures, or other diagnostic tests, to determine what treatment is best suited to the patient's condition. If the patient's condition lies outside the chiropractor's scope of practice, the doctor of chiropractic will either work in consultation with another health care provider to treat the patient, or will refer the patient to another health care provider, depending on what is in the best interest of the patient.

Is chiropractic care expensive?

A. Studies that compare chiropractic and medical treatments demonstrate that cases under chiropractic care show lower treatment costs, reduced work-time losses, and reduced worker disability. Over 75 percent of payments for chiropractic services are covered by one or more types of insurance or other third party payment systems. These include: private indemnity insurance, auto insurance, workers' compensation insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and prepaid/managed care plans.

Does the adjustment hurt?

A. Under normal circumstances, chiropractic adjustments are painless. In cases of recent trauma, such as whiplash, mild discomfort may be experienced due to inflammation. It is also common to feel a brief sensation in the extremities immediately following an adjustment due to the sudden decompression of the affected nerve root.

Is regular chiropractic care necessary?

A. Regular chiropractic care may be necessary to correct spinal subluxations to help maintain sound health and fitness. Your spine is under constant strain during waking hours. Improper lifting techniques, poor posture, accidents, falls and bumps, and other causes can contribute to spinal strain. Timely adjustments can help restore the neuromusculoskeletal integrity of the spine to normalize the bodily equilibrium and increase resistance.

How old should a person be before he or she begins chiropractic care?

A. Chiropractic patients range in years from birth to old age. Regardless of age, the vertebrae can become misaligned. For example, the birth process may cause trauma to the neck and spine. Left uncorrected, the vertebral subluxation may disturb the delicate spinal cord and nerves which control the youngster's muscles and organs. In some cases, an uncorrected subluxation may lead to a deformity of the spinal column. An early chiropractic checkup may detect many spinal problems while they are still easily correctable.

Does the adjustment help me?

A. Chiropractic adjustments by themselves do not actually heal the body. When any of the 24 moveable spinal vertebrae become misaligned, a basic imbalance or disruption can occur in the nervous and blood vascular systems, which may contribute to stress in the body. Chiropractic adjustments help eliminate that imbalance or disruption so that the body can function at its true potential.

Does an adjustment have to make a noise to be effective?

A. No, it is a common misconception that your joints must make a noise to be properly adjusted. However, more often than not when your vertebrae are adjusted, the smooth articular (joint) surfaces become separated, creating and then releasing a small vacuum, making a noise. This is the sound made when you crack your knuckles. Your chiropractor is concerned with the position of your vertebrae, not with the noise that may occur.

Should I go to a Chiropractor if I feel fine?

A. Even if you feel fine, chiropractic care can help your body maintain its required level of health and fitness. Your chiropractor can recommend a preventive spinal-care program and advise you on correct posture, dietary information and back exercises. Regular spinal checkups can help detect and prevent spinal stress due to subluxations.

Is it true that Chiropractors do not prescribe medication or perform surgery?

A. Yes. Chiropractors do not include medication or surgery in their treatment program. Chiropractors maintain that the body has a built-in capacity to restore health within certain limits, and base their care on this principle. Occasionally, the use of medication can interfere with the body's healing mechanisms, produce side effects, create a dependence and lead to drug-caused disease or complications. The first response in most illnesses and injuries should be conservative care. Chiropractic's principles make it possibly the safest and most appealing of the healing arts.

How does chiropractic care help the pregnant woman?

A. Because of the additional weight and stress on the framework of the body in pregnant women, chiropractic adjustments can help lower the incidence of pain in the low back and legs, and between the shoulder blades. In some cases, fewer headaches and problems with nausea and elimination may also result. Many chiropractors care for expectant mothers in the regular course of their daily practices. It is wise, however, to first inquire about the experience of your chiropractor in caring for pregnant women and what he or she recommends for you

What is a Subluxation?

The word "subluxation" comes from the Latin words meaning "to dislocate" (luxare) and "somewhat or slightly" (sub). A subluxation means a slight dislocation (misalignment) or biomechanical malfunctioning of the vertebrae (bones of the spine). These disturbances may irritate nerve roots and blood vessels which branch off from the spinal cord between each of the vertebrae. This irritation may cause pain and dysfunction in muscle, lymphatic and organ tissue as well as imbalance in the normal body processes.

How Does Chiropractic Work?
Chiropractic works because you are a self-healing, self-regulating organism controlled by your nervous system. Millions of instructions flow from your brain, down the spinal cord and out to every organ and tissue. Signals sent back to the brain confirm if your body is working right.

Do I Have A Slipped Disc?
The disc is a soft pulpy "shock absorber." It has a fibrous outer ring which holds in a jelly-like material. A "slipped disc" is a common way to refer to a wide variety of disc problems. However, a disc can't slip because of the way it attaches to the spinal bones above and below it. A disc can bulge. It can tear. It can herniate. It can thin. It can dry out. And it can collapse. But it can't slip.

Do I Have A Pinched Nerve?
A pinched nerve is rare. It is more likely that an adjacent spinal bone irritates, stretches, rubs or chafes a nerve. These subluxations distort the nerve messages sent between the brain and the body. This can produce unhealthy alterations to the organs and tissues connected by the affected nerves.

How Do You Get Subluxations?
There are three basic causes of subluxations. Physical causes could include slips and falls, accidents, repetitive motions and improper lifting. Emotions such as grief, anger and fear can cause subluxations. Chemical causes could include alcohol, drugs, pollution and poor diet.

How Do I Know If I Have A Subluxation?
You can have subluxations and not even know it. Like the early stages of tooth decay or cancer, subluxations can be present before waning signs appear. The results of a thorough examination can show the location and severity of subluxations you may have.

Can Subluxations Clear Up On Their Own?
Sometimes. Today's hectic lifestyles are a constant source of subluxations. Fortunately, our bodies have the ability to self-correct many of these problems as we bend and stretch, or when we sleep at night. When subluxations don't resolve, you need to see a chiropractic doctor!

What's An Adjustment?
Chiropractic adjustments usually involve a quick thrust that helps add motion to spinal joints that aren't moving right. Some methods use the doctor's hands, and instrument, a special table or the force of gravity. There are many ways to adjust the spine.

Are Chiropractic Adjustments Safe?
Yes. A New Zealand government study found that adjustments are "remarkably safe." By avoiding drugs and risky surgery, chiropractic care enjoys an excellent track record. A thorough exam can identify the rare person for whom chiropractic care might be unsuited. Compare the statistics. Adjustments are about 100 times safer than taking an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Will Adjustments Make My Spine Too Loose?
No. Only the spinal joints that are "locked up" receive adjustments. This allows weakened muscles and ligaments to stabilize and heal.

Can The Bones Move Too Much?
Highly unlikely. A chiropractic adjustment is special. It has the right amount of energy, delivered to an exact spot, at a precise angle, at just the right time. The intent is to get a "stuck" spinal joint moving again, helping reduce nerve interference. Years of training, practice and experience make chiropractic adjustments specific and safe.

What Makes The Sound During The Adjustment?
Lubricating fluids separate the bones of each spinal joint. Some adjusting methods can produce a sound when the gas and fluids in the joint shift. It's much like opening a bottle of champagne or removing a suction cup. The sound is interesting, but it isn't a guide to the quality or value of the adjustment.

Are All Patients Adjusted The Same Way?
No. Each patient's spine and care plan is unique. With 24 moving bones in the spine, each of which can move in seven different directions, we see a wide variety of spinal patterns. Each patient's care is custom-tailored for their age, condition and health goals.

Can I Adjust Myself?
No. Some people can make their joints "pop," but that's not an adjustment! Worse, damage can occur by mobilizing a joint with weakened muscles and ligaments. Adjustments are specific and take years to master. Even your chiropractic doctor must consult a colleague to benefit from chiropractic care.

How Many Adjustments Will I Need?
The number of adjustments varies with each patient and their individual health goals. Many patients sense progress within a week or two of frequent visits. Visits become less often as your spine stabilizes. In chronic cases, complete healing can take months or even years.

Why Do Newborns Get Adjustments?
Even today's "natural" childbirth methods can affect an infant's spine. Preliminary studies suggested that colic, unusual crying, poor appetite, ear infections or erratic sleeping habits can be signs of spinal distress. Pediatric adjustments are gentle. Knowing exactly where to adjust, the doctor applies no more pressure than you'd use to test the ripeness of a tomato.

Can I Have Chiropractic Care After Back Surgery?
Yes. Rest assured that your chiropractic doctor will avoid the surgically modified areas of your spine. Surgery often causes instability above or below the involved level. These areas will be the focus of your chiropractic care.

Can Patients With Osteoporosis Get Chiropractic Care?
Of course. When developing a care plan, your chiropractic doctor considers the unique circumstances of each patient.

There are many ways to adjust the spine. The method selected will be best suited to your age, size and condition.

How Long Until I'll Feel Better?
Some patients experience almost instant relief. Others discover it can take many weeks or months. Many factors can affect the healing process. How long have you had your problem? Are you keeping your appointments? Are you getting the proper rest, exercise and nutrition? Do you smoke? Are you in otherwise good condition? Within a short period of time, most patients sense enough progress to fully carry out their doctor's recommendations.

How Long Will I Need Chiropractic Care?
After patients get the relief they want, many choose to continue with some type of periodic care. These patients show up for their visits feeling great. These visits can help support the final stages of healing and help detect and resolve new problems before they become serious. Our job is to offer the very best care and your job is to decide how much of it you want.

Will I Receive Any Medication For My Pain?
No. Chiropractic doctors don't dispense drugs. Because we rely on natural methods, we can show you how to use ice to control painful symptoms. When properly applied, ice can have an analgesic effect without the side effects of pain medications.

Why Don't Medical Practitioners And Chiropractic Doctors Get Along?
That's changing. Years of prejudice and bias are giving way to research showing the benefits of chiropractic care. Attitudes are slow to change. However, as the public demands alternatives to drugs and surgery, more and more medical practitioners are referring their patients to our office.

What If My Policy Doesn't Cover Chiropractic?
Your health affects everything you do and everyone you know. It is your most valuable possession. Yet, each of us is free to place a different value on our health. It's convenient when an insurance company or third party helps pay the bill.

But be careful! Don't allow the profit motive of a huge corporation to make the decision for you. Find out how we make chiropractic care affordable for just about anyone.

Will I Ever Be Normal Again?
Patient results vary. Many report improved spinal curves and the total resumption of their normal lifestyle. Those who neglected or delayed seeking care often see slower progress. After improvement, many patients discover that periodic chiropractic checkups can help avoid a relapse.

What If Chiropractic Doesn't Work?
If we're unable to find and correct the cause of your particular health problem, we will refer you to other specialists who may be able to help. Your health is our primary goal.

If you have questions we haven't answered here, please call. We know that the more you know that the more you learn about chiropractic, the more confidence you'll have that it will work for you. It's safe. It's natural. And it works. It's a simple idea that has stood the test of time and helped millions enjoy relief and better health.

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