Whether you’re an avid runner or a fitness enthusiast or someone who just wants to be healthy, you know that it’s important to take care of your body. A visit to a chiropractor can be just what you need if you are having pain in your lower back or neck. It is also good for those who commute and sit at a desk all day long!
There are many different types of services offered by chiropractors, including physical therapy rehabilitation, sports injury treatment, wellness care for children and adults, as well as massage therapy. But before we get into the specifics about each service let’s talk about how to find the right one for you.
What Is a Chiropractor?
A chiropractor is a health professional who focuses on the health and wellness of your spinal column, in particular. They also specialize in other body parts, including ligaments, organs, nerves, and muscles as well as treat symptoms such as pain, headaches, scoliosis (a condition that causes spinal curvature), whiplash, or any other health condition that affects the health of your spine. While chiropractors don’t offer health insurance, it is possible to get health insurance if you see a health professional for treatment.
The health care model of chiropractors is different from the health care model used by medical doctors. Medical health professionals focus on fighting disease through diagnosis and treatment whereas health seekers are more interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, supported by health experts such as chiropractors.
The health model of chiropractors is based on the idea that health comes from within. Therefore, health seekers are encouraged to take control of their health and make responsible decisions such as diet changes or getting more exercise.
Obviously, given what we know about health care today and in the past, this philosophy can work well with other health experts such as medical doctors who follow a similar approach.
Chiropractic health care also focuses on the health of your nervous system, including your spinal nerves and your brain. The health of these parts is essential in maintaining a healthy lifestyle because they control all functions of the human body.
Of course, this is where you come in. Health seekers must be able to recognize their health needs and take responsibility for their health so that they can make decisions about what health care services they will seek out such as chiropractic health care.
For example, if you have been having headaches and sciatic pain (pain down the back side of one or both legs), it’s time to see a chiropractor who can offer specialized treatments specifically designed to treat these symptoms with natural therapies like spinal manipulation therapy (also known as adjustment or chiropractic).
Types of Chiropractors
There are several kinds of chiropractors who offer health care for different health issues. Chiropractic health professionals are doctors of chiropractic: they are health experts having the highest level of education on health matters, and they do not perform surgeries or prescribe drugs. To choose a good chiropractor, one must find the right type who can address health problems without any side effects. Here is a guide to help select the best doctor for you.
1. General Practitioner
A general chiropractor is trained in health diagnosis and all body system maintenance treatments; therefore, s/he is qualified to provide treatment regardless of specific conditions. General practitioners are trained in biomechanics, so they would be able to spot structural imbalances before damage occurs.
They have strong knowledge of health care, in general, so they can recommend health products, foods, herbs, and lifestyle modifications for wellness and health maintenance. General chiropractors use the same therapies as specialists do but may have a smaller area of expertise, e.g. treating only neck or back pain and not dealing with other health issues.
A specialist (also called sub-specialists) focuses primarily on one health issue or treatment method, e.g., pediatrics, adults, spinal injuries, sports medicine, pregnancy, extremities, etc. Therefore, s/he is a health expert in that area only.
A specialist’s scope of practice is limited to certain areas while general practitioners are trained for all conditions including all body systems. Specialists’ experience should be in the health issue of interest. A health care provider specializing in sports medicine should have worked with professional athletes or health care providers only (no general practice).
3. Chiropractic Physician
A chiropractic physician is trained to perform surgery and prescribe medications; therefore, s/he will practice outside the chiropractic scope of health maintenance and focus on health problems that are too severe for the body to heal by itself (e.g. spinal cord injuries, tumors, etc.) using drugs and surgery methods as opposed to natural wellness therapies.
Chiropractors are health experts but not medical professionals. They don’t make diagnoses or prescribe health products like drugs or operation treatments. The use of drugs other than over-the-counter medicines must be approved by a healthcare provider.
4. Health Practitioner
A health practitioner’s scope of practice is limited to non-invasive health adjustments ( spinal and extremities manipulations). He/she performs health maintenance, health prevention therapies, health education, health counseling, and health coaching services.
Health practitioners do not diagnose health problems or provide operations or prescription drugs for any conditions, so they are fully qualified chiropractors but do not have the full knowledge of a medical doctor who provides internal health functions.
They may offer appropriate tools for pain management, e.g., TENS unit therapy, exercise programs, relaxation techniques, etc. They safely administer these treatment options without any side effects nor complications.
These health professionals work mainly in back pain clinics to help patients recover from health problems and health conditions in a natural health care way without health complications.
5. Health Educator
A health educator is a professional with health sciences education qualifications who educates about health issues, healthy lifestyles, health practices, products and services. The focus of teaching may be on health conditions (injury or illness) or different theories applied to wellness including holistic health practices; medical home, etc.
This type of doctor does not perform any kind of treatment like manipulation therapy to help the body heal naturally, but s/he can recommend suitable treatments provided by other healthcare professionals such as chiropractors or physical therapists, which include safe options for pain management, e.g., TENS unit therapy, exercise programs, etc.
Depending on his/her area of expertise, this health care provider could recommend health products and services available for purchase.
How to Find a Good Chiropractor
To choose a good chiropractor, people must first understand what makes a good health expert to go to. A health enthusiast should be able to ask around friends and family members for recommendations of any health professional they trust or use regularly, especially if they have had personal experience with their guidance.
There are also other ways to look for recommended health professionals. Health gurus who make claims about their methods of healing can misinform health seekers about health information, so always be careful to look for health experts who have a good reputation in the health industry.
Today, health enthusiasts are able to research health professionals online easily. Online communities such as Facebook or forums where health gurus can talk with other health enthusiasts are perfect places to find out more about different health modalities and how they might benefit your lifestyle.
When reading comments written by those in online communities, make sure to read through all of them. Most responses are usually posted after having received positive experiences from their interaction with that particular health professional.
The only way to find out if you will receive similar results is by interacting personally with that expert yourself. You can also use social networks to ask questions directly from a health expert to gain more health information.
Most of all, there are many types of health professionals out there. It’s important that you take your health into consideration and find the one health professional who is right for your health. When seeking treatment from a chiropractor, in particular, make sure to:
1. Ask about Their Education
There are several ways to become a chiropractor.
- Graduate from an accredited Chiropractic College, get a license, and then practice
- Undergo 4-5 years of training as an entry-level doctor (internship), specialize in neurology (Chiro school), obtain a license, and then practice
The other way to become a chiropractor is to go through the following steps:
- Graduate from high school with GED certificate, 3 years of community college, 2-year pre-chiropractic training/bachelor program, obtain a license, and then practice
- Graduate from high school with GED certificate, 3 years of community college, 4-year pre-chiropractic training/bachelor program, obtain a license, and then practice
- Graduate from high school or college with a valid degree, get certified as a massage therapist, complete one year of chiropractic assistant training program, and practice as an intern in a chiropractic clinic. After working as an intern for 2 years, you will then be able to apply for the state board exam.
There are several chiropractic colleges around the world. Students attending one of these institutions will be able to graduate with either a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree. A few well-known chiropractic colleges are Palmer College of Chiropractic, National University of Health Sciences, Life College West, Southern California University, and more.
Most people would agree that the best way to become a chiropractor is by attending a chiropractic college and graduating with a degree such as but not limited to Bachelors in Cellular Science.
Although there are other ways to become a chiropractor, the best is by attending a legitimate chiropractic college. This way, one will receive quality education and guidance from the moment they start the program all the way until they graduate with a doctorate degree in chiropractic sciences, after which one will be able to practice in any of the 50 states across the United States.
Either way, chiropractors go through years of health-related education to be able to provide treatment, so you should ask how many years they have been in healthcare and where they were educated.
Make sure the health professional’s health-related degree has included a focus on health as well as spinal health. It is also important to find out what certifications they have, as health professionals will need to maintain health-related certifications to stay up-to-date with their field.
See to it the health professional has taken health science courses, or at least anatomy and physiology courses.
2. Find Out What Treatments They Offer
Chiropractors have a wide array of techniques that they can employ to treat their patients. These range from the more forceful spinal manipulation, to the gentler technique known as spinal mobilization. The common goal for most chiropractic approaches is restoring or enhancing joint function with resolving inflammation and reducing pain being some of these goals’ general outcomes.
One of the most popular techniques is spinal manipulation. Strain-counterstrain is a health care technique that uses muscle contraction to relieve pain. This technique may be useful for people with low back pain or neck pain when the cause of their symptoms cannot be identified by conventional health care techniques.
Studies show that spinal manipulation and massage therapy help reduce symptoms and improve function in people with chronic (long-term) low back pain, as well as improve symptom severity among those who are better able to identify the source of their symptoms.
However, some health professionals do not recommend manipulation because it appears uncomfortable during treatment and because some studies indicate that chiropractic adjustment can cause injury to vulnerable tissues surrounding joints and bones. Further research to compare benefits versus risks is needed.
Studies have shown that spinal manipulation helps people with tension-type headaches and cervicogenic headaches (headaches attributed to nerve-root pressure from the neck).
3. Be clear on the Costs
Chiropractors can offer a range of services including massages, acupuncture, and homeopathic remedies, along with other health-related services like health counseling and fitness programs.
It is important to know how much each service costs before going ahead with any health service as this way you will not be caught off guard by unexpected costs. You may also want to check if there is a health practitioner’s fee associated with cancellations or missed appointments as well as missing health care sessions.
How much does chiropractic health care cost? The cost of chiropractic health care varies depending on the condition being treated, geographic location, and even the doctor providing the treatment.
For example, a recent national survey conducted by Consumers Digest found that out-of-pocket expenses for an initial visit ranged from $22 to $81 while subsequent visits ranged from $27 to $128.
It’s not easy to work out how much a chiropractic treatment will cost. Health insurers often cover different treatments in different ways.
For example, some may pay for consultations and diagnostic tests but not for the treatment itself. There are also usually limits on how many treatments you can have or over what time period. If your health insurer doesn’t cover chiropractic care, it’s best to check with them before starting any treatment.
4. See if They Provide Health-Related Advice
Chiropractors are health practitioners who focus on health rather than just health conditions, including helping you manage your health and wellness by offering health tips and information. For example, some chiropractors offer simple tips for a healthier spine such as exercise or ways to improve posture to take care of the spine better and avoid health problems associated with spinal health issues. It is important that when choosing one, make sure they will be able to give you helpful tips that apply to your condition so you can maintain your health and stay healthy.
5. Be Prepared for Alternative Treatments
Many chiropractors will also offer other types of health care services within their practice such as acupuncture or massage therapy to improve overall health and reduce pain levels when dealing with spinal health issues. This is good news but can mean you have more decisions to make when choosing a chiropractor since each one offers different treatments. This is why it is important to check a health practitioner’s level of experience before agreeing to any health service.
When choosing a health care practitioner, you should know about health conditions that can be treated by chiropractors and how effectively health care professionals can provide treatment for different health-related services.
For example, if you suffer from low back pain or headaches, it is important to ask whether health professionals will be able to help with your condition and what treatments they offer.
Do some research and make sure you know what health problems are suitable for chiropractic treatment. This way, when choosing one, there are no unpleasant surprises like finding out later on that the health professional cannot treat your condition well or at all.
What You Can Do to Find the Best Chiropractor
When you choose a health practitioner like a chiropractor or any other health professional, it’s not just qualifications that matter. You need someone who has the right attitude towards health and health care as well as being able to communicate clearly with you about your health condition. Here are three more tips on how to find the ideal chiropractor for you:
1. Share Your Health History
They will ask questions about your health background in detail so they can identify risk factors and provide solutions that work best for you. These risk factors may include smoking, diet, pregnancy, or family health history.
Before making an appointment, make sure you bring all relevant health documents (such as X-rays and MRIs) with you. This is where knowledge of what health records you need to take with you will come in handy.
2. Research Health Conditions at Hand
Knowing as much about your health condition as possible is important because it allows the chiropractor to offer a tailored health solution for you that meets your health needs. When choosing a health program, make sure you choose one that addresses any health concerns you have.
At least, when searching for health information on the Internet, try to remember which health problems are most common in your family and consider whether or not they apply to yourself.
3. Make Some Time
When looking for a chiropractor who can give you the time and attention needed, ask questions such as, “Do I need an appointment?” “Will my consultation be 30 minutes?” “How many health issues do I need to discuss?” or “Do you offer health consultations over Skype or phone? If so, is there an extra cost?.”
Once you’ve found a chiropractor who seems able to work with your health needs and communicate effectively with you about health concerns, make sure he offers health solutions that meet your health goals. This way, when choosing a health professional like a chiropractor, you can be sure the health care solution will keep paying off!