Choosing whether to put your body in the hands of a chiropractor is a difficult decision for many people. The field has an uneven reputation and a hard-to-measure success rate in helping people rid themselves of chronic pain, making it imperative that you be careful if you choose to find a chiropractor to treat a medical issue you’re experiencing.
Chiropractors differ from many other medical professionals in that they are more often hands-on and don’t prescribe drugs as part of their treatment plans. They will look at your medical history and your symptoms in a different light than a general practitioner or surgeon, recommending therapeutic and rehabilitative services as opposed to prescription medications or surgery.
The availability of chiropractic treatment as an option for some medical conditions has spread across the country as the methodology has gained a wider acceptance among Americans seeking ways to alleviate pain without “going under the knife.”
For instance, Chiropractic treatment is a readily chosen option for people suffering from chronic neck or back pain – conditions where delicate surgery may be the traditional recommendation.
One of the most common procedures performed by chiropractors is spinal manipulation, in which the provider applies force on joints to help restore flexibility.
Chiropractors are trained to treat a variety of medical conditions beyond back and neck pain, including headaches, injuries and congenital disorders.
Whenever you’re confronted with a health issue, a consultation with your primary care physician should be your first consideration. Your doctor will diagnose the condition as best as he or she can and offer possible treatment options – of which chiropractic care may be one. If chiropractic care is the option you prefer, your doctor can refer you to a chiropractor.
If you and your doctor decide chiropractic treatment could be the right option for you, find out whether your health insurance will cover it. Medicare, for instance, covers medically necessary chiropractic services.
Searching for a chiropractor can present you with an overwhelming number of options, particularly in large urban areas. With the average session costing $65 and ranging up to $200, it’s an expensive decision to make.
Just as with any service you’re considering, whether it’s medical assistance or home repairs, positive word of mouth is always a good indication of quality and reliability. So ask your friends, family and coworkers whether they have been to a chiropractor and what their experience was like.
If you’re starting your search from scratch, you can use the search function on The American Chiropractic Association website. Look for chiropractors whose specialties or research projects focus on the area of your body or condition that needs attention. As chiropractic treatment is largely a physical encounter, take time to research the techniques that they may use when you undergo treatment.
Treatments can include acupuncture, cryotherapy, heat treatments, interferential electrical muscle stimulation, massage therapy and nutritional counseling. There are more than 100 treatment methods, in all.
Choosing a chiropractor who offers a range of treatment options may prove the quickest way to resolve your health care issue as it will save you the time of having to consult more than one specialist.
There are always questions to ask whenever you seek medical treatment, the most important question of all being: Do I trust him or her well enough to put my body in his or her hands?
When you’re searching for a chiropractor, look for someone who:
- Has a welcoming demeanor. If you’re not comfortable talking to him or her, why would you put your body in their hands?
- Answers your questions in a way you understand.
- Offers a diagnosis after a physical exam and interview and who will order X-rays when warranted.
- Considers in-home exercise as a treatment option when appropriate.
- Was educated at a nationally accredited program.
- Has a reasonable number of years in his or her practice.
Avoid a chiropractor who:
- Suggests using physical treatments to alleviate ailments that have nothing to do with muscle or joint pain, such as respiratory infections, skin conditions and eye problems.
- Wants to run a hair or fingernail analysis or other unproven methods to detect allergies or deficiencies in your bodily functions or chemistry.
While an initial visit may often be free, long-term treatment can add up. Make sure you discuss the costs and have a clear idea of what those will be before you commit to a treatment plan. Chiropractors aim to get at the cause of a problem and resolve it, so the number of treatment sessions may vary from patient to patient. How long are you willing to pay for treatments if the results are indefinite?
If you’re expecting treatment over the long term, it’s important for you to feel that you can build a rapport with the chiropractor that you choose. So, if you don’t feel comfortable with a chiropractor, his or her staff or the office surroundings, look elsewhere for treatment.
Do you see a chiropractor? How did you find a chiropractor that was right for you? Tell us in the comments below!