When we have a toothache, we see the dentist. When you have the flu, you see the doctor. But when would someone see a chiropractor? For some people, a chiropractor is the first call made when experiencing pain or discomfort, especially in the back or neck. It’s important to know what chiropractors do and how they are trained to see if going to a chiropractor is right for you.
According to the American Chiropractors Association, “Chiropractors focus on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health and function. Chiropractic services are used most often to treat conditions such as back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.”
A qualified chiropractor must complete a 4-year doctoral program at an accredited chiropractic school and pass a 4-part exam to earn their national license and be deemed a Doctor of Chiropractor (D.C.). Prior to be accepted into a chiropractic program, students must earn a bachelor’s degree or a minimum of 90 hours of undergraduate college credit. Practicing chiropractors are required to complete continuing medical education each year to maintain their license. In additional to federal license requirements, many states require additional tests and a state license for chiropractors.
When you visit a chiropractor, you will receive an initial evaluation, possible x-rays, and a proposed treatment plan. Treatments include adjustments to help align the spine, known as a spinal manipulation, to assist the body in healing itself. During an adjustment, the chiropractor applies careful force to the spinal joint, working to make sure all joints are in line and functional. Many people find great relief from pain and discomfort after 3-6 treatments from a chiropractor.
Though most appointments are made because of back or neck pain, chiropractors treat headaches, foot pain, and provide treatments that help alleviate sleep issues. Additional research has found that chiropractic care can help with pregnancy discomfort, fertility issues, and sports performance.
Before making an appointment with a chiropractor, do your research.
- Check the chiropractor’s license and training and get referrals from trusted friends and family when possible.
- If you are at increased risk of stroke, spinal cancer, or experiencing numbness or tingling in the extremities it is important to talk to your Doctor before working with a chiropractor.
- Finally, check with your insurance plan to see what costs will be covered.