25 Frequently Asked Questions About Seeing a Chiropractor
Patients often confess they feel nervous about their first visit to NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine, especially if they’ve heard some myths about chiropractic care. Our compassionate staff understands there’s a lot of misinformation around how chiropractic works, which is why we’ve compiled 25 of the most popular questions we hear from new patients. Do you have a question you don’t see addressed here? Get in touch.
1) What Is a Chiropractor?
Chiropractors are doctors who specialize in neuromuscular disorders and how they impact our physical and mental health. They believe the human body can heal itself with help from chiropractic treatments, such as spinal manipulation and spinal decompression. Despite common misconceptions, chiropractors are not trained to reject Western medicine. Instead, they learn techniques that complement the treatment plans recommended by primary care physicians and other medical providers.
2) What Kind of Training Do Chiropractors Receive?
Chiropractors undergo extensive training before treating patients for spine-related ailments. On average, chiropractors spend at least four years working on their Doctor of Chiropractic (DC). They cannot pursue this degree until they attend at least three years of undergraduate courses.
Chiropractic students complete a supervised clinical during their doctorate program prior to working as a solo practitioner. Depending on the state, a chiropractor may also need to pass licensing exams before practicing without supervision. Many chiropractors also pursue additional educational opportunities after college so that they have a thorough understanding of modern wellness techniques.
3) What Is Chiropractic Care?
Chiropractors believe the body’s musculoskeletal structure must be aligned correctly to prevent health issues. Chiropractic care draws upon this belief, which is why chiropractors often focus on the condition of your spine. Each patient receives care tailored toward their unique symptoms. When you visit a chiropractor, services may include manual manipulation, spinal decompression, laser therapy, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, or cryotherapy. Chiropractic treatments are non-surgical and non-invasive.
4) Is Chiropractic Care Appropriate for Children?
Many chiropractors, including the team at NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine, treat children. In fact, some parents bring their children in for visits shortly after birth. If you wait until your child gets older, you may notice they have neck or back pain. These are common complaints regardless of whether your kids lead active or sedentary lifestyles. Active kids can knock their spine out of alignment as they run, jump, or fall. Kids who log plenty of screen time often experience neck pain or aches in their wrists. So, yes, chiropractic care is appropriate for children.
5) Is Chiropractic Care a New Concept?
Many patients are cautious about new treatments, and understandably so. However, chiropractic care has been around for more than a century. Daniel David Palmer launched the profession in 1895 after allegedly restoring the hearing of a deaf janitor. Palmer performed a spinal manipulation on the janitor, helping him eliminate his hearing loss.
Standards for chiropractors were somewhat lax in the 1960s, which inspired some criticism regarding the profession. Requirements are much more stringent now, and chiropractors are licensed doctors with extensive training.
6) Can You Receive Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy?
Chiropractic care is generally safe during pregnancy, but it’s a good idea to double check with your OB/GYN before scheduling an appointment. Many patients find that chiropractic treatments help alleviate the aches commonly associated with pregnancy.
7) Are Chiropractic Treatments Effective?
Our patients often find chiropractic treatments to be effective for a number of issues, including neck pain, back pain, and headaches. In fact, chiropractic care helps many of our patients experience relief without the need for prescription medication or surgical procedures.
8) Is Chiropractic Care Safe?
Chiropractic care is generally considered safe. However, there is a small chance that you may develop complications after chiropractic care. These complications include increased pain, increased herniation, and stroke.
However, these risks are minimal when compared with those of other medical treatments, including prescription drugs and surgical procedures. Each year, millions of patients are hospitalized after experiencing adverse reactions to prescription medications. If you’ve ever undergone a surgical procedure, you may remember signing a waiver agreeing you understand the procedure has numerous risks, including permanent disability or death. These waivers aren’t just an unnecessary precaution, as more than 250,000 people die from medical errors each year. In comparison, the risk of injury or complications during Chiropractic care is far less of a concern.
9) Can My Body Become Addicted to Chiropractic Adjustments?
Many people fear that spinal manipulation is a habit-forming treatment. However, evidence does not indicate that our bodies become addicted to spinal manipulation. If you discontinue chiropractic care, your spine may return to its original state. This is not the result of treatment dependency, though. Your spine typically becomes misaligned again if you do not change your lifestyle after you discontinue chiropractic care.
10) What Causes the Popping Sound During an Adjustment?
Most patients experience a popping or cracking sound during spinal manipulation. This is not dangerous, and it typically does not cause discomfort for patients. This sound occurs because gas and fluids are moving through your spine. Your body depends on fluids to lubricate the bones between each section of your spinal joints, so it’s normal to have this fluid in your skeletal system.
11) How Do I Know if I Need Chiropractic Care?
We’ll let you know! Chiropractors, including the team at NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine, perform a thorough evaluation before recommending treatment. This evaluation may include a physical examination, X-rays, CT scan, or MRI. With your consent, we may also contact your other medical providers for information about your health. This helps us work together to provide complementary treatment, increasing your chances of recovery or pain management. If you think you may benefit from chiropractic, check out our guide on 5 signs you need chiropractic care. (link to 5 Signs You Need Chiropractic Care)
12) Can I Perform My Own Spinal Adjustments?
You can, but we don’t recommend it. It’s dangerous to adjust your own neck or back if you don’t have training in chiropractic care. You might damage your spine or make your symptoms worse. We’re available five days a week, so call us ASAP if you’re tempted to perform your own chiropractic adjustments. We’re here to help.
13) Can I Request Chiropractic Care Without a Referral?
We treat patients who do not have referrals from their primary care physicians or other medical providers. In fact, some patients visit us before they see another doctor. However, some insurance providers still require prior authorization for patients. Check with your insurance company before you schedule an appointment at NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine. We’re happy to verify benefits for you if you need help understanding what your plan covers.
14) Is Chiropractic Care Expensive?
It’s a common misconception that chiropractic care is expensive. Many of our patients pay a small co-pay before insurance kicks in for their treatments, but they say it’s better than covering the cost of a surgical procedure. You may also find chiropractic care more affordable than the numerous medications and injections some patients receive before visiting a chiropractor.
If the cost of chiropractic care concerns you, let us know. We can help develop a treatment plan that meets your medical needs without draining your bank account.
15) Are Chiropractic Treatments Painful?
Chiropractic treatments typically aren’t painful, though some patients experience minor discomfort after an appointment. We can offer suggestions to decrease discomfort, such as using ice packs or a heating pad at home. You may also find it helpful to perform gentle stretches after your appointment.
That being said, most patients leave with less pain than they had upon arrival. Progress takes time, but you may experience immediate relief after an adjustment or other services. Let us know if you are sensitive to chiropractic care so we can help make your visit more enjoyable.
16) What Conditions Can Benefit From Chiropractic Care?
Patients visit us for a variety of conditions, ranging from minor ailments to severe conditions that haven’t benefited from conventional medicine. Here are some conditions that we treat at NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine:
- Neck, back, shoulder, leg, and foot pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Tennis elbow
- Headaches and Migraines
- Herniated discs
This is not a full list of ailments we treat. Talk to us if you have a condition that isn’t on the list, and we’ll let you know how we can help.
17) What Symptoms Can Chiropractors Treat?
Chiropractors treat a wide range of symptoms that impact your physical and emotional well-being. Our team helps patients effectively manage the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Limited range of mobility
Many patients also notice their mental health improves after a chiropractic session. Living with chronic pain can trigger bouts of depression and anxiety, and many patients confess they felt hopeless about the future until they visited our office. We help alleviate your discomfort so you can get back to living life on your terms.
18) How Many Visits Does It Take to Get Better?
Some patients only visit us a handful of times. Other patients require weeks or months of consistent care. The amount of time required for your recovery depends on a number of factors, including the severity of your condition and the level of improvement you want. Some patients want their pain to reach a manageable level, while others want to visit us until it disappears completely. Talk to us about your goals so we can develop a treatment plan tailored toward your wishes.
19) What Are Some Common Treatments Chiropractors Use?
Many patients are familiar with the use of spinal manipulation in chiropractic care, which is when a doctor gently manipulates your spine with their hands or a tool. However, chiropractors also utilize numerous other techniques and treatments, including:
- Spinal decompression
- Cervical decompression
- Heat therapy
- Laser therapy
- Electrical stimulation
- Physical therapy
- Stretches and other simple exercises
The treatments your chiropractor chooses will depend on the severity of your condition and your personal preferences. We work with you to develop a treatment plan you’re comfortable receiving. Your doctor may recommend a single treatment or combine multiple techniques to help you alleviate your symptoms.
20) What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica often strikes when patients are 30 to 50 years old, but we also treat teens and seniors with this debilitating condition. It refers to pain that travels throughout your sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in your body. Your sciatic nerve runs from your lower back to your feet.
When your sciatic nerve becomes irritated, injured, or compressed, it reacts by producing excruciating pain. Ice packs and heating pads occasionally help, but sciatic pain often requires treatment from a skilled chiropractor.
A chiropractor can perform diagnostic tests to pinpoint the root of your nerve pain and then proceed accordingly. This may mean performing a spinal adjustment to ease a herniated disc back into its designated spot or recommending spinal decompression therapy. Some chiropractors also treat sciatic pain with lasers or electrical stimulation.
21) Can You Get Chiropractic Adjustments After Back Surgery?
Every situation is unique, but yes, it’s generally okay to get chiropractic adjustments after back surgery. Our chiropractic team will carefully review your imaging reports and surgery notes to make sure you’re a good candidate for post-surgery adjustments. Some patients find they only need cervical adjustments after back surgery, but it depends on your symptoms.
Surgery often weakens the surrounding joints and muscles because they overcompensate during the recovery process. Chiropractic care can tackle these issues without disturbing the area where you received surgical treatment.
22) Can Chiropractors Prescribe Medication?
Chiropractors cannot prescribe medication, but many of our patients don’t require medication to see results. They often visit us after discovering that conventional treatments mask their symptoms instead of addressing the root cause of them. We want to help your body heal, not just provide temporary relief from your pain or discomfort.
23) Can Adjustments Make My Spine Too Loose?
Your spine is resilient, and it’s equipped to handle gentle manipulation from a professional chiropractor. We make sure of this before we offer chiropractic care, which is why new patients must schedule an initial consultation. We only treat the spinal joints that need attention.
24) Why Is My Spine Out of Whack?
The demands of modern life trigger many spinal issues. Every patient develops symptoms for different reasons, but common culprits include:
- Automobile accidents
- Work-related injuries
- Fall-related injuries
- Pregnancy or other medical conditions
- Frequent use of electronics or digital devices
- Heavy lifting
- Emotional stress
- Physical activities, including yard work, sports, and exercise routines
It’s difficult to avoid every potentially damaging activity. Some of our patients visit us after pulling a muscle while vacuuming or mopping. You can also damage your spine by sleeping on the wrong type of mattress or pillow. When you visit NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine, we can evaluate your lifestyle and offer advice on how to prevent future issues.
25) What Happens If Chiropractic Care Doesn’t Help?
Occasionally we have patients who do not improve with chiropractic care. When this happens, we refer them to other practitioners who can help. Some patients visit other specialists at NorthEast Spine and Sports Medicine for services such as physical therapy, therapeutic injections, or micro-vas therapy. This typically helps patients manage their pain, but we also refer patients to doctors outside our office when desired.
Have a question that isn’t listed? Contact us at one of our New Jersey offices so we can help. Our friendly team fields calls at locations throughout the state, including our offices in Ocean and Monmouth Counties. We answer calls Monday through Friday, and morning, afternoon, or evening appointments are available.