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What is chiropractic?

Chiropractic is the practice of balancing and eliminating stress in the spine and joints; doing this helps heal common ailments and reduces pain in the neck, spine, and joints.

What is required to be a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.)?

Chiropractors are licensed by the state in which they practice. Licensing typically requires a degree from a nationally accredited chiropractic college, passing the National Board Exams, and various background checks. To keep their license in good standing, Continuing Education credits are required, just as is the case with many other professions.

What is the difference between what medical doctors do and what chiropractors do?

MDs are allowed to prescribe prescription drugs, surgery, and other medical treatments. Chiropractors use a wide variety of non-drug, non-invasive forms of therapy. These include spinal adjustment, manual therapies such as massage, and various muscle therapies such as stretching, range of motion exercises, heat and ice, traction, and electrical stimulation.

Do I need a referral from an M.D. to see a chiropractor?

The legal scope of a chiropractic practice allows people to receive treatment from a chiropractor without any referral from an MD. This is why a chiropractor is considered a “direct access” physician. Chiropractors are allowed to diagnose, treat, and refer the patient to other medical specialties, just as medical doctors do. They are also permitted to prescribe, perform, and interpret X-rays.

Is chiropractic only helpful for dealing with neck and back pain? How can chiropractors help patients with other health issues?

Chiropractic can be used successfully for overall stress relief, as well as for stress or tension headaches, other musculo-skeletal pain, shoulder pain, and for knee, ankle, and hip problems. It has also proven helpful for jaw tightness (known as TMJ).

How do I know when I should see a chiropractor versus when I need to see an orthopedist or a sports medicine doctor?

Any good licensed doctor, such as a chiropractor or an orthopedist, has the training to determine the most prudent and effective course of action. Chiropractors tend to deal with moderate injuries or situations, while an orthopedist will usually be appropriate for a more serious condition or when a severe traumatic injury has occurred.

What is an “adjustment”?

This is the term used to describe the process of aligning the spine. The spine is “aligned” when the vertebrae are in their most comfortable position to function properly.

Why is there a “pop” or a “crack” when a chiropractor works on me?

Most joints have an internal pressure that enables them to move. Sometimes, when there is stress on a joint from sitting or standing in an overly prolonged position or from repetitive movement, the joint develops increased pressure and swells. This swelling can cause the joint to move inappropriately and cause pain. Chiropractors work to alleviate the stress and return the joint back to its normal state. The pop or crack is simply the pressure being released.

If I have poor posture, can chiropractic help me?

Yes, because poor posture is frequently caused by your having prolonged tight muscles in certain areas of your body that force the body into positions that pull joints or portions of the spine out of alignment. For most people, posture also tends to get worse as you age, due to the normal degenerative processes of the body. This is why exercise and nerve stimulation is so critical at all ages. Chiropractic treatment is an effective way to provide that stimulation to help maintain good posture.

Is chiropractic for everyone?

Chiropractic and the various therapies that are used by a licensed chiropractor give the doctor many tools to work with. So if you’re experiencing the classic lower backache or neck pain, musculo-skeletal pains or aches, or just need to eliminate the aches and pains of aging, chiropractic done right will work for you. People’s bodies are, of course, all different, and injuries need to be treated with caution and the subtle use of proper healing methods, to avoid aggravating the areas that are in pain.

I have an injury – how quickly can chiropractic get me better?

The body is going to go through its healing process in its own way and at its own pace. Therapy just helps to aid this process, by providing the most comfortable environment for healing to occur faster and at an optimal pace, usually by eliminating the tightness in the muscles and joints that can hinder healing, thus allowing optimal blood flow, which is needed for healing to occur.

Does chiropractic hurt? I have a very low threshold for pain.

Depending on someone’s pain tolerance, chiropractic can be performed with different levels of intensity, and the chiropractor must be acutely aware of each patient’s pain tolerance. The methods your chiropractor chooses will depend on how flexible or stiff your body is when you start the treatment. Certain methods are more forceful than others, and your chiropractor will work with you so that the treatment is both effective and comfortable – after all, it’s your body!

Is chiropractic treatment ongoing?

It’s important to understand that we are inducing motion in your spine or increasing the range of motion in your affected joint, in order to alleviate the tension that is causing your pain. We must always allow the necessary time for the joints to learn to adjust to the new movement pattern.

I’m in a lot of pain – how can chiropractic help me cope with the pain?

A chiropractor can help diagnose the cause of the pain. When the mechanism of pain has been identified, therapies within the scope of chiropractic can be applied to alleviate the pain. First, I would determine if the cause is musculo-skeletal, in which case chiropractic manipulation should be able to ease the pain. If something else is suspected, I would refer the client out to a primary care physician or to a specialist, such as an internist or a neurologist.

Is chiropractic safe?

Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuro-musculoskeletal complaints. Although chiropractic has an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects. The risks associated with chiropractic, however, are very small. Many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic treatment, but some may experience mild soreness, stiffness, or aching, just as they do after some forms of exercise. Current research shows that minor discomfort or soreness following spinal manipulation typically fades within 24 hours.

Is it safe to have chiropractic treatment during pregnancy?

Yes, as long as the appropriate degree of caution and gentleness is employed.