Learning about chiropractic care is essential whether you have back pain or not. This article will focus on what chiropractors do, how they help, and what you should know before getting adjusted.
Chiropractors do a lot of “grunt” work, including physical exams, taking X-rays, and health histories. They also perform spinal manipulation, which involves moving a joint to the end of its range, then applying a low-force thrust.
What Is a Chiropractor?
A chiropractor is a health care professional trained to assess and treat spine, muscle, joint, and related nervous system problems. While myths about chiropractic include cracking a person’s back or bones, professionals use a variety of techniques to heal the body, including spinal manipulation (which you may hear a pop and crack during), soft-tissue massage to release tight muscles, and relieving spasms and joints mobilization to decrease pain and increase range of motion. Other adjunctive therapies might include ultrasound to produce a massaging effect on the joints and low-level laser or “cold” laser, which can reduce inflammation by stimulating nerves and cells.
Chiropractors are primary care practitioners, meaning they can see patients without a referral from a medical doctor. They graduate with a doctor of chiropractic degree after years of studies in life sciences like anatomy and physiology, hands-on spinal adjustment skills, business management, and more. They can diagnose musculoskeletal issues and recommend treatments like exercise, diet, and nutrition to manage pain.
How Does a Chiropractor Help?
Chiropractors like Brad Kern are known for their hands-on manipulation techniques to adjust imbalances in the skeletal system, especially the spine. But they also use other tools to improve the health of their patients, such as diet, exercise, sleep habits, and lifestyle counseling.
They’re trained in over 150 massage techniques, soft tissue therapy, and electrical nerve stimulation. They’ll start with an assessment that includes a complete medical history, physical exam, and X-rays if needed.
Chiropractors may relieve neck pain by realigning the vertebrae, which can ease muscle tension. And spinal adjustments can reduce headaches by releasing tight muscles and improving blood flow to the brain, which can help prevent oxygen deprivation, one of the leading causes of headaches. In addition, chiropractic treatments can improve posture and lower the risk of back problems.
What Can a Chiropractor Do for Me?
Chiropractors can help with musculoskeletal issues, including back and neck pain, joint stiffness, and headaches. They don’t prescribe drugs or perform surgery and do not need a referral from your doctor to treat you.
During your first visit, your chiropractor will take a detailed health history and do a thorough physical exam of your muscles, joints, and spine. They may also do x-rays, which help determine the cause of your symptoms. Based on this information, they’ll develop a working diagnosis and provide you with a management plan.
Chiropractors use hands-on treatments to adjust the structure of your body, especially your spine. They manually manipulate your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to relieve pain and improve function. Their manipulations (also called adjustments) are usually quick and gentle. Studies show that regular chiropractic care keeps your spine and body aligned, boosts immune system functioning, and decreases visits to doctors and health centers.
How Can I Find a Chiropractor?
The most effective way to find a chiropractor is through referrals from friends and family that have had positive experiences. Patients should also ask their primary care doctors for suggestions. Many primary care doctors are familiar with local personal injury chiropractors and can provide references based on their experience.
Once patients have a list of potential chiropractors, they should research each. This includes looking at their education and credentials. They should verify that their chiropractor has a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from an accredited program. Additionally, they should look for reviews on unbiased websites.
Finally, patients should consider insurance coverage and cost when selecting a chiropractor. They should ensure that the chiropractor they choose accepts their specific insurance plan and can provide them with an estimate of out-of-pocket costs. They should also ensure the chiropractor is licensed to practice in their state. This can be verified on the state licensing board website.