If you’re new to chiropractic care, it’s only natural for you to have questions concerning this type of treatment.
These FAQs from Rockrimmon Integrated Medical in Colorado Springs explain more about chiropractic treatments and how they help with pain relief of musculoskeletal injuries.
What Is A Chiropractor?
Chiropractors are trained doctors who specialize in detecting and reducing misalignments of the spine called vertebral subluxation that interfere with central nervous system function. Subluxations can cause inflammation of the joint and nerve root as well as lack of motion which can cause joint degeneration (Arthritis).
Chiropractors work in the field of complementary or alternative medicine, treating patients by performing hands-on chiropractic adjustments in order to help with postural restoration, spinal alignment, nervous system function and maintenance of health. Chiropractic physicians are trained to use their hands as their “instrument,” carefully adjusting the joints of the body, especially the spine.
Are chiropractic treatments effective?
When performed by experienced, licensed chiropractors, chiropractic treatments can be quite effective in relieving neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, headaches, and other musculoskeletal issues.
What typically happens during a first chiropractic visit?
During your first visit, our chiropractor will review your medical history to get an idea of your state of health and past conditions. We’ll then go over your symptoms and the details of your injury or chronic condition. We’ll give you a physical exam, take x-rays, inspect your spinal health, and test your mobility. This information is used to determine if you’re a candidate for chiropractic treatment. If so, we’ll outline a plan for treatment.
What Conditions do Chiropractors Treat?
Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) care for patients of all ages, with a variety of health conditions. They are especially well known for their expertise in caring for patients with back pain, neck pain and headaches using their highly skilled manipulations or chiropractic adjustments. DCs also care for patients with a wide range of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system, which includes the muscles, ligaments and joints. These painful conditions may involve or impact the nervous system, which can cause referred pain and dysfunction distant to the region of injury. In addition, chiropractors offer advice to patients on diet, nutrition, exercise, healthy habits, and occupational and lifestyle modification.
Is Chiropractic Care Safe?
Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest nondrug, noninvasive forms of health care available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal 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.
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, when performed by a skilled and well educated doctor of chiropractic, is a remarkably safe procedure.
Some reports have associated high-velocity upper neck manipulation with a certain rare kind of stroke, or vertebral artery dissection. However, evidence suggests that this type of arterial injury often takes place spontaneously in patients who have pre-existing arterial disease. These dissections have been associated with everyday activities such as turning the head while driving, swimming, or having a shampoo in a hair salon. Patients with this condition may experience neck pain and headache that leads them to seek professional care at the office of a doctor of chiropractic or family physician, but that care is not the cause of the injury. The best evidence indicates that the incidence of artery injuries associated with high-velocity upper neck manipulation is extremely rare—about one to three cases in 100,000 patients who get treated with a course of care. This is similar to the incidence of this type of stroke among the general population.
If you are visiting your doctor of chiropractic with upper-neck pain or headache, be very specific about your symptoms. This will help your doctor of chiropractic offer the safest and most effective treatment, even if it involves referral to another healthcare provider.
When discussing the risks of any healthcare procedure, it is important to look at that risk in comparison to other treatments available for the same condition. In this regard, the risks of serious complications from spinal manipulation for conditions such as neck pain and headache compare very favorably with even the most conservative care options. For example, the risks associated with some of the most common treatments for musculoskeletal pain (i.e. over-the-counter or prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and prescription painkillers) are significantly greater than those of chiropractic manipulation.
Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that overuse and abuse of prescription opioid pain medications is among the leading causes of accidental death in the United States.
Doctors of chiropractic are well trained professionals who provide patients with safe, effective care for a variety of common conditions. Their extensive education prepares them to identify patients who have special risk factors and to ensure those patients receive the most appropriate care, even if that requires referral to a medical specialist.
Does Chiropractic treatment require a referral from an MD?
A referral is usually not needed to see a doctor of chiropractic (DC); however, your health insurance plan may have specific referral requirements. You may want to contact your insurance company directly or you can call our office and we can explain your benefits to you. Most plans allow you to just call and schedule an appointment with a chiropractor.
What type of training and education do chiropractors have?
Doctors of chiropractic are educated as primary-contact healthcare 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 healthcare 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. Doctors of chiropractic 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 and adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is spent in clinical technique training to master these important manipulative procedures. In total, the chiropractic college curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. The course of study is approved by the Council on Chiropractic Education, an accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
How is a chiropractic adjustment performed?
A chiropractic adjustment 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 joint inflammation 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.
Is Chiropractic Treatment Ongoing?
The hands-on nature of chiropractic 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. At RIM we will review the extent of the treatment recommended for you how long you can expect it to last after an initial examination but before you begin care.
What causes the popping sound you sometimes hear during a chiropractic adjustment?
Adjustment 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.
425 W. Rockrimmon Blvd, Suite 100
Colorado Springs, CO 80919
The content of this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Nor is it a substitute for medical advice or treatment from your physician. Rockrimmon Integrated Medical is not a pharmacy and products and services described on this website are only available after establishment of a formal physician-patient relationship with a Rockrimmon Integrated Medical healthcare provider.