What is chiropractic care and what conditions are treated?

It’s a natural method of health care that focuses on treating the causes of physical problems rather than just treating the symptoms. Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) care for patients of all ages, with a variety of health conditions.  DCs are especially well known for their expertise in caring for patients with back pain, neck pain and headaches…particularly with their highly skilled  manipulations or chiropractic adjustments. They also care for patients with a wide range of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system, involving the muscles, ligaments and joints.  These painful conditions often involve or impact the nervous system, which can cause referred pain and dysfunction distant to the region of injury.  The benefits of chiropractic care extend to general health issues, as well, since our body structure affects our overall function. DCs also counsel patients on diet, nutrition, exercise, healthy habits, and occupational and lifestyle modification.

What type of education and training do chiropractors have?

Doctors of Chiropractic are educated as primary-contact health care providers, with an emphasis on diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to the musculoskeletal system (the muscles, ligaments and joints of the spine and extremities) and the nerves that supply them. Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions.

The typical applicant for chiropractic college has already acquired nearly four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education, including courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related lab work. Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college, the requirements become even more demanding — four to five academic years of professional study are the standard. DCs are educated in orthopedics, neurology, physiology, human anatomy, clinical diagnosis including laboratory procedures, diagnostic imaging, exercise, nutrition rehabilitation and more.

Because chiropractic care includes highly skilled manipulation/adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is spent in clinical technique training to master these important manipulative procedures.

The course of study is approved by an accrediting agency that is fully recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

How is a chiropractic adjustment performed?

Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is a manual procedure that utilizes the highly refined skills developed during the doctor of chiropractic’s intensive years of chiropractic education. The chiropractic physician typically uses his or her hands–or an instrument–to manipulate the joints of the body, particularly the spine, in order to restore or enhance joint function. This often helps resolve interferences (subluxations, misaligned vertebrae) and reduces the patient’s pain. Chiropractic manipulation is a highly controlled procedure that rarely causes discomfort. The chiropractor adapts the procedure to meet the specific needs of each patient. Patients often note positive changes in their symptoms immediately following treatment.

What causes a subluxation?

Accidents, injuries, improper lifting or body mechanics and inherited spinal weaknesses are common causes of subluxations. Other causes include prolonged sitting, poor sleeping habits, poor posture, obesity, slips and falls, car accidents, stress, a sedentary lifestyle, sports injuries, internal organ dysfunction and not enough rest or sleep.

Why do chiropractors take x-rays?

Chiropractors take x-rays to reveal the internal structure and alignment of the spine. They are also concerned about the underlining disease processes and disorders of the spine such as spinal deterioration, arthritis of the spine, abnormal development, bone spurs, disc disorders, tumors and spinal curvature. X-rays also provide a blueprint for correcting the spine back to optimal health and alignment.

Is chiropractic treatment safe?

Yes. Chiropractic has an excellent safety record. It is the result of a conservative and natural approach to health that avoids invasive procedures or addictive drugs. As proof, comparing malpractice rates between chiropractors and other health care professionals, Chiropractors’ malpractice premiums are a small fraction of those for medical doctors.

Are all patients adjusted the same way?

No. The doctor evaluates each –patient’s unique spinal problem and develops an individual care program. There are numerous types of spinal adjustments.

Do spinal adjustments weaken or loosen the spine in any way?

No. Spinal adjustments restore the normal, health motion and position that each spinal segment requires. In order for the spine to be strong, the spinal bones must be in normal alignment and have their normal amount of movement. Spinal adjustments do just that.

Is chiropractic treatment appropriate for children?

Yes, children can benefit from chiropractic care. Children are very physically active and experience many types of falls and blows from activities of daily living as well as from participating in sports. Injuries such as these may cause many symptoms including back and neck pain, stiffness, soreness or discomfort. Chiropractic care is always adapted to the individual patient. It is a highly skilled treatment, and in the case of children, very gentle.

Do insurance plans cover chiropractic?

Yes. Chiropractic care is included in most health insurance plans, including major medical plans, workers’ compensation, Medicare, some Medicaid plans and ‘traditional’ insurance plans like Blue Cross Blue Shield, among others.

Why is there a popping sound when a joint is adjusted?

Adjustment (or manipulation) of a joint may result in the release of a gas bubble between the joints, which makes a popping sound. The same thing occurs when you “crack” your knuckles. The noise is caused by the change of pressure within the joint, which results in gas bubbles being released. There is usually minimal, if any, discomfort involved.

Is chiropractic treatment ongoing?

The hands-on nature of the chiropractic treatment is essentially what requires patients to visit the chiropractor a number of times. To be treated by a chiropractor, a patient needs to be in his or her office. In contrast, a course of treatment from medical doctors often involves a pre-established plan that is conducted at home (i.e. taking a course of antibiotics once a day for a couple of weeks). A chiropractor may provide acute, chronic, and/or preventive care thus making a certain number of visits sometimes necessary.  Your doctor of chiropractic will tell you the extent of treatment recommended and how long you can expect it to last.

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