Frequently Asked Chiropractic Questions

Below are common questions about Chiropractic and Chiropractic care. Click on the question for a detailed answer or scroll down the page for the answer to each question:

What is Chiropractic?
What conditions do chiropractors treat?
Do I need a referral from my MD?
Is chiropractic care/manipulation safe?
Are there side effects from chiropractic care?
Can children be treated with chiropractic care?
Do chiropractors use outpatient medical facilities?
Do insurance plans cover chiropractic?
What type of education and training do chiropractors have?
How is a chiropractic adjustment performed?
Why is there a popping sound when a joint is adjusted?
Do all chiropractors practice the same way?
 

What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. 
 

What conditions do chiropractors treat?

Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, as well as arm and leg pain,  headaches, disc bulges and herniations.
 

Do I need a referral from my MD?

A MD referral is not required to be treated by a chiropractor by state law.  Some insurance companies, however, treat chiropractors as specialist and require a referrel from the patient’s primary care physician to pay for chiropractic care.
 

Is chiropractic care/manipulation safe?

Yes, chiropractic care is safe.  Chiropractic manipulation is  recognized as one of the safest non-invasive, drug-free therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal complaints. Although chiropractic has an excellent safety record, no health care treatment is completely risk free.

The risks associated with chiropractic, however, are very small. While many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic treatment, some (about 50%) may experience mild soreness or aching, similar to muscle soreness after exercise. Of the patients  that experience minor discomfort or soreness following spinal manipulation most report a decrease in the soreness withing 24 hours.

Neck pain and some types of headaches are treated through precise cervical manipulation. Cervical manipulation, often called a neck adjustment, works to improve joint mobility in the neck, restoring range of motion and reducing muscle spasm, which helps relieve pressure and tension.

Neck manipulation is a remarkably safe procedure. Some reports have associated upper neck manipulation with a certain kind of stroke known as a vertebral artery dissection, but there is not yet a clear understanding of the connection. The occurrence of vertebral artery dissection appears to be very rare, 1 in 5.85 million manipulations, based on limited clinical reports and scientific studies performed to date.

In comparison, it is important to understand the risks associated with the most common treatments for musculoskeletal pain — prescription and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) as these treatments may carry risks significantly greater than chiropractic manipulation. “According to a study from the American Journal of Gastroenterology, approximately one-third of all hospitalizations and deaths related to gastrointestinal bleeding can be attributed to the use of aspirin or NSAID painkillers like ibuprofen.” (ACA website)
 

Can children be treated with chiropractic care?

Yes, children can be treated with chiropractic care. Since children are very physically active and experience of falls and blows from play as well as from participating in sports. These falls and blows may cause many symptoms including neck and back pain as well as stiffness, soreness or discomfort. As it is a highly skilled treatment modality, chiropractic care is adapted to the individual patient and in the case of children, very gentle.  
 

Do chiropractors use outpatient medical facilities?

Many hospitals are adding chiropractors on staff for wellness centers, emergeny rooms and family medicine.  Most chiropractors use outpatient such as labs and radiology centers for their non-hospitalized patients. According the the American Chiropractic Association, hospital privileges were first granted in 1983.
 

Do insurance plans cover chiropractic?

Most insured American workers have coverage for chiropractic services in their health care plans. This includes Medicare, Federal Employees the Armed Services and Veteran’s Affairs Medical Centers.  Most private insurers also provide coverage for chiropractic care.
 

What type of education and training do chiropractors have?

Chiropractors are educated as primary contact health care providers, with an emphasis on musculoskeletal diagnosis and treatment.  Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college, the future chiropractors have four to five academic years of professional study before completeing their doctorate degree. Because chiropractic is a hands-on therapy with intricate adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is spent teaching these skills in clinical training.  Prior to graduation, students complete a year and a half long internship.

In total, the chiropractic curriculum includes over 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. The course of study is approved by an accrediting agency (The Council on Chiropractic Education) 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 refined skills to restore a joint’s normal range of motion. The chiropractor typically uses his/her hands to manipulate the joints of the body, particularly the spine, in order to reduce pain, and restore or enhance joint function. Chiropractic manipulation is a highly controlled procedure that rarely causes discomfort as the chiropractor adapts his/her technique to meet the specific needs of each patient. Many patients note improvement in their symptoms immediately following treatment.
 

Is chiropractic treatment ongoing?

The hands-on nature of the chiropractic treatment is essentially why patients need to visit the chiropractor a number of times. Just as many medications take time to have an effect, manipulation may need to be performed on a regular basis for to have the utmost effect.  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 should tell you the extent of treatment recommended and how long you can expect it to last.
 

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

The popping or cracking sound you hear when a joint is adjusted is the result of a gas bubble “popping” due to added stress on the joint.  The noise is the same as when you “crack” your knuckles. There is generally no pain involved.
 

Do all chiropractors practice the same way?

Yes and no, while the ultimate goal of restoring normal joint function is the same for chiropractors, the method which is used varies widely.  A large majority of chiropractors utilize a “Diversified Technique”, but may also use other techniques based on the needs of the patient and the ability of the chiropractor (a 6’2″ chiropractor will adjust quite a bit differently from a 5’7″ chiropractor.)