Frequently Asked Questions

Chiropractic is based on the fact that your body is essentially a self-regulating and self-healing organism with dynamic function that is controlled by the nervous system. This means that in most cases, your body does everything it can to maintain its own existence and health. The nervous system is in charge of the communication back and forth between the brain and all of the rest of your body organs, tissues and even free floating cells. It is when the nervous system is interfered with that we have problems. Chiropractors work with the spine because improper motion or position of the spinal bones can do just that. This is sometimes referred to as spinal dysfunction. Chiropractors look for and attempt to correct or minimize this dysfunction, restoring the proper motion and function to the spine, which therefore helps the communication system to work without interference. This often allows your body to return to a state of health!
Discs are the cartilage-like spacers in between the spinal bones. They are sort of like a jelly donut, having a more solid outer ring and jelly-like center. The jelly, called the nucleus pulposus, is under a high amount of pressure, and acts like a ball bearing to allow movement of your spinal bones. The discs are actually attached very tightly to the bones, so despite common notions, they cannot “slip.” However, the outer layers can weaken, tear or open up, allowing the jelly to ooze out or herniate, sometimes putting pressure or irritation on the delicate spinal nerves nearby. Often, the body recognizes this as an injury, and floods the area with inflammation and puts the muscles into spasm to protect from further injury. In most cases, it is this soft-tissue injury response that actually causes the pain. In some cases, estimated at about 1%, the disc is actually pushing on the nerve, and may require surgery. Your doctor will perform all the necessary orthopedic tests and possible diagnostic imaging to rule this condition out if he suspects a problem. Most times, even if there is a disc herniation, Chiropractic care is an effective option. Studies show that conservative care such as chiropractic is just as successful as surgery in most cases in controlling symptoms while your body heals the injury.
Most times, nerves are being irritated rather than actually pinched. Although it is possible to have direct pinching of the nerve by either disc or bone material, usually a misalignment of the spinal bones has triggered the body to respond with its injury protection mechanism of spasm and inflammation. It is more often these reactions that will cause signs of nerve irritation. Remember, nerves aren’t always responsible for sending pain signals back to the brain, so therefore you may have a nerve-irritating spinal dysfunction and not even know it!
Spinal dysfunction can occur without you knowing it. In several instances, there is a physical reason, whether it is due to an injury, poor posture, car accident or illness. Other times, when our emotions are at peaks and valleys, this can also lead to spinal dysfunction. Additionally, chemicals such as smoke, pollution, alcohol, drugs and poor dietary choices can cause spinal dysfunction. You must remember that the body is very dynamic, and it does not work like a car. While the radiator may have nothing to do with your tires, your body works together all the time. The way you walk can affect the spine, and therefore may cause headaches or other symptoms, just for one example.
Several cases of spinal dysfunction will lead to symptoms like headache, back pain, neck pain or numbness and tingling in the arms or legs. Other times, they will give you symptoms you wouldn’t normally associate with the spine, like dizziness, nausea, decreased immune function, ear infections and fatigue. Last but not least, you may get no symptoms at all from spinal dysfunction! It may sit and eventually manifest itself into degenerative change while you have no idea anything is going on. It is this reason that regular check-ups with a chiropractor should play a vital role in your continued health care.
In some cases, probably most cases, minor misalignments occur and take care of themselves on a daily basis. However, sometimes they are stubborn, and get stuck. The bones of the spine become immobile in a bad position. This is sensed by the body in most cases, and the body treats it like an injury, making it move even less. It is these stubborn misalignments that are the most important to have corrected by a chiropractor. Keep in mind, sometimes you will not get a symptom from spinal dysfunction. It is very common for a Chiropractor to hear, “I didn’t even know that hurt until you touched it!”
X-rays can be a great diagnostic tool. While in a hospital or primary care setting, x-rays are only used to rule out fractures, dislocations and diseases, a Chiropractor uses the x-rays as a way to see what type of biomechanical situation your spine is in. While we still look for problems, we can also analyze a baseline of your spinal health, looking for misalignments, degenerative change and posture. This often gives us a great clue as to why you may be having the symptoms you are currently having, and what might be the most effective way to correct the problem.
Quite simply, an adjustment is the method that a Chiropractor uses to improve function. It is usually accomplished through a light and quick thrust to a specific area of your spine to restore the right position and increase the range of motion of the joint between two spinal bones. This allows the nervous system to communicate more effectively, without interference. There are several different ways to adjust the spine, including specific instruments and tables to assist the doctor.
Definitely. The rate of injury after an adjustment is extremely low. While there are very slight risks associated with Chiropractic care, they are minimal and rare. Considering the risks of all too often recommended alternatives (medication, surgery, etc.), Chiropractic has stood the test of time to be “remarkably safe.”
Chiropractors are interested in moving primarily the bones that are “stuck” or not moving properly. This minimizes any risk of the joint becoming too loose. Also, because adjustments are given at a quick speed, the joint doesn’t always have to move much to get back to the right motion and position.
This sound, known as a cavitation, is just gas escaping from the fluid that lubricates the joint. In reality, it is not of much more important than the sound of a bubble popping. There is one mild benefit when the sound occurs. The body sends down natural pain killers to the area that last about 20 minutes. During this time, the joint won’t “crack” again, but the body feels a little better. Several people describe their friends or family “cracking” their back for them and how good it feels. This is only due to the natural pain killers. You could have a monkey jump on your back and you may feel a little better for 20 minutes. A Chiropractic adjustment is specific in direction, force and time, allowing the joint moved to get to a better place.
While seeing someone else getting adjusted may look similar to how the next person gets adjusted, there are distinct differences. Keep in mind that the moveable bones of the spine have several individual joints with up to seven different directions that they can move. Subtle differences in hand position, amount or direction of force, and spinal regions make each adjustment process unique for that specific person.
No. It doesn’t work. Even Chiropractors do not adjust themselves. They have to visit another Doctor of Chiropractic to adjust them, too. Ask your doctor how often he gets adjusted. Most will tell you that they get adjusted once every couple weeks at least due to the physical nature of their own job!
This depends not only on your unique condition, but what your ultimate goal is. In our office, we like to not only get our patients out of pain, but we want to get as much correction to their spine as possible. A highly functional spine (and therefore nervous system) can help you reach your peak health potential. If Chiropractic care were just about controlling your symptoms, we would be no more effective than pain medication in helping to restore health.
From the minute they travel down the birth canal, children are exposed to the physical demands of growth and development. It is so vital that children develop appropriately. A minor misalignment during youth can set the stage for advanced degeneration and higher potential for illness and injury. Children must also be checked for devastating problems such as scoliosis and torticollis. Kids who receive Chiropractic care are reported to have a lower rate of illness and infection by many parents. Keep in mind that children do not get adjusted the same way as adults do. The adjustments are much lighter and delicate.
Yes. After a period of time after surgery (usually about eight weeks), your doctor may begin to adjust you. Even with spinal fusion surgeries, your Chiropractor can get to work creating the best possible motion for the areas above and below the fusion. These areas after surgery are the most important, as they will be making up for the lost motion of the fused area and are subject to advanced degenerative change.
Yes. Gentle techniques are used, and a great emphasis is placed on restoring proper posture with rehabilitation exercises with the adjustments. The “granny hump” is not just an effect of osteoporosis, but equally a problem associated with poor posture, which causes compression fractures in the middle spinal bones.
This answer varies among patients. Most people start to see relief from their symptoms within a few visits. In our office, the doctor will explain the estimated amount of time it will take for you to get rid of most of your symptoms. You must also understand that without the corrective and stabilization portion of care, the symptoms are much more likely to reoccur.
Again, this answer depends on the individual patient. A fifteen year old who injured his back playing football will likely need a shorter course of care than a seventy year old who has had low back pain for twenty years and visits the office after two unsuccessful surgeries. We like to encourage wellness care after your course of corrective care. Just like you see your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings. Chiropractic works similarly. However, you can always get dentures. It is impossible to replace your spine!
Chiropractors do not prescribe medicine. Often, if your doctor feels that he needs to control your pain, he can teach you how to use ice as an effective pain killer. Other options include topical pain creams, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, heat and possibly even a referral to a different physician who can co-manage you through the use of medication.
Chiropractors and D.O.s are both licensed physicians, each going through intense schooling and training in their particular fields. While D.O.s are much like M.D.s using medication as their primary tool, some may incorporate manipulation in their practices. Originally, they thought that manipulation was an effective way to control the circulation of blood, but most D.O.s have abandoned this theory. Their training in manipulation is nowhere near as extensive as that of a Chiropractor. Newer generations of D.O.s get not much training in this area. Chiropractors use adjustments, exercise, physical modalities and health advice as their primary tools for health. Chiropractors also prefer the term “Adjustment” over “Manipulation” to describe the amount of specificity in its delivery.
In the past, their was a high amount of animosity between M.D.s and D.C.s. This was spurred by a general lack of knowledge of the science behind Chiropractic. Also, the two groups tend to approach health in a different way. While most M.D.s approach their patients with control of symptoms using an “outside-in” philosophy, D.C.s look at their patients as healing themselves from the inside out. They also try to promote true health, not just eliminate symptoms. True health is indeed much more than just a lack of symptoms. Today, many M.D.s and Chiropractors do get along very well. In our office, we regularly give and receive referrals from M.D.s, as they greatly recognize the effectiveness of Chiropractic care. It is when all health professionals are able to work as a team to do what’s best for the patient that the world may move to a better state of health.
While several insurances do cover chiropractic, most have limited coverage. Insurance is for catastrophes, and is only meant to be a supplement. While we accept almost all insurances, including Workers’ Compensation, there are times when insurance will not cover your care, or stop covering prior to your full recovery. Rest assured that the doctor will work out a financial plan in these situations that will make Chiropractic care extremely affordable with your budget. For more information, see our “Insurance Info” section.
The doctor will be sure to set certain benchmarks to determine whether your care is going as planned. If he feels that you are not progressing as planned, he may change his plan, refer you for additional diagnostic testing, or refer you to a colleague. This colleague may be a specialist or even another Chiropractor who uses a different technique.
I’m sure that at some point, you went into a grocery store, bank, dental or medical office and had a bad experience. While you might have never gone back to that particular location, I bet you went to a different one! Why? Because these places are necessities in life, and although one place’s way of doing things may not work for you, sure enough another place’s will. This should apply to Chiropractic care as well. It is all too often said, “I tried chiropractic. I went a few times and it didn’t help.” This could have been for several reasons. Did you follow the doctor’s recommendation completely? Were there outside aggravations to your condition that you forgot to mention? Did you commit yourself to getting better, no matter what? Sometimes, we are partially responsible for our lack of results. However, as with any profession, sometimes one individual’s skill and competency is not the same as another’s. Please keep this in mind and remember that it may not have actually been “Chiropractic” that didn’t work for you, but the manner in which it was used. There have been several patients who have found satisfaction in one office after having little or no success in a different office. We will always look forward to making your experience here a positive one!