You’ve got a headache—or back, shoulder, or leg pain—and you’re looking for a doctor of chiropractic (DC) to help with your problem. How do you make that decision? Should the size of their advertisement in a local publication be the determining factor? Selecting the right health care provider for your needs is important.
How do I choose a chiropractor that’s right for me?
The best source is often a referral from a relative or friend who has had good experiences with a doctor. A referral from another health care practitioner is also generally helpful. Just as you wouldn’t continue to see a medical doctor who refused to refer you to a good chiropractor for problems with your musculoskeletal system, you should also refrain from selecting a chiropractic doctor who refuses to send you to an MD or other qualified professional when necessary.
A good chiropractor will offer you safer and more effective non-drug and/or non-surgical approaches to your problems. The chiropractic profession believes in a conservative approach to health care, utilizing nondrug, non-surgical methods, when appropriate, as first-line therapies. Chiropractors take a more holistic approach to your body and health, meaning we look at how everything is connected, rather than focusing only on the single symptom or “part” that is causing pain.
A reputable doctor of chiropractic will teach you how to maintain your musculoskeletal system through healthy exercise and movement. Your doctor should also discuss your health habits and make recommendations on nutrition, exercise, and stress management to help you get well and stay well. There should be regular discussions about helping you prevent future episodes of pain and disability by helping you understand how your body works and giving you practical tools for self-care.
Will a chiropractor take x-rays or MRIs?
There are specific, well-documented reasons for performing x-rays or MRIs, but your doctor should be able to rule out many “red flag” conditions by reviewing your health history and doing a thorough exam. Unfortunately, many diagnostic exams like x-rays and MRIs are overused and find incidental findings that cause unnecessary worry and additional expensive testing. A reputable DC will x-ray only the patients who require it.
Feel free to question your doctor about the need for x-rays in your case, about the percentage of patients x-rayed in his or her office, or about any other diagnostic or treatment procedure that is unclear to you. Remember that it is not a good idea to x-ray you periodically to see if changes in your vertebral misalignments have occurred.
How long should my chiropractor treat me?
Any good healthcare provider should work hard to get you out of the office and functioning independently as quickly as possible. Your treatment should be tailored to your specific needs and goals, with an evaluation of your progress every few weeks. If you are not showing progress in either pain or function within a reasonable period of time, your doctor should discuss with you why this might be happening. Sometimes there are good reasons, like if you have a severe or history of multiple injuries. Multiple or chronic health issues can also affect your healing time. There may be other lifestyle factors that are causing unusual stress and affecting your overall health. A good chiropractor (or any health professional) should be able to discuss these with you, make adjustments to your treatment, and/or provide reasonable advice or referral to other professionals who can help.
There are thousands of good chiropractors available to help you manage your neuromusculoskeletal system with sound, well-documented procedures. As with any other health care decision, remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Choose a chiropractor you are comfortable with, who addresses your health concerns, and who uses sound principles of modern health care in helping you manage your problems.