An estimated 15 percent of U.S. adults received chiropractic care in 2015, compared to only 8 percent in 2012. Nearly seven in 10 adults believe it’s effective for treating back and neck pain, and more than 50 percent have visited a chiropractor themselves.
Still, many patients are unsure about chiropractic care until they’ve tried it. As a practicing doctor of chiropractic, it will be up to you to answer their questions. Here are some of the most common inquiries you’ll encounter:
How does chiropractic work?
Chiropractic care involves the use of spinal manipulation, or adjustments, to correct misalignments of the spine. When vertebrae become misaligned, they can cause neuromusculoskeletal complaints such as back pain, neck pain, headaches and a host of other symptoms.
Chiropractors use a hands-on, drug-free approach—often consisting of adjustments combined with hot and cold treatments or therapeutic exercise—to help heal injuries, relieve pain, restore joint mobility and strengthen the musculoskeletal system.
Is there an age limit on chiropractic treatment?
Many patients wonder: “How young is too young?” The answer is that there’s no such thing. Chiropractors often check babies who are just moments old for spinal misalignments caused by the birthing process. As children become older, parents may seek chiropractic care to encourage a healthy nervous system and assist with a range of problems, from behavioral disorders and sleeping problems to allergies and asthma.
It’s helpful for seniors, as well. Chiropractic care can provide pain relief from arthritis and other conditions while also decreasing joint degeneration and increasing range of motion, balance and coordination.
What else do chiropractors do besides adjustments?
Many people think chiropractors focus solely on the spine. They’re often surprised to learn that we’re also trained to advise our patients on nutrition, fitness and lifestyle changes. We can even screen for conditions outside the musculoskeletal system, referring patients to other specialists when needed.
Chiropractors also specialize in areas such as sports rehabilitation, clinical nutrition, neurology, pediatrics, and geriatrics.
What causes the sound during an adjustment?
Sometimes, the vertebrae make a popping sound during adjustments. Some patients assume it means the adjustment worked, while others might interpret it more negatively. In truth, the sound is meaningless, painless and harmless.
When the joints are separated slightly during manipulation, it creates a partial vacuum. As gas rushes in to fill the space it can make a sound—much like when you pop the cork on a bottle of champagne.
Why do chiropractors take X-rays?
Some chiropractors X-ray every patient to set a baseline for treatment. Others are more selective, X-raying only when necessary.
Taking X-rays can help the chiropractor determine where to adjust the spine and rule out other problems such as broken bones, dislocated joints, infection and cancer. Looking at the spine’s internal structure and alignment can also reveal conditions such as bone spurs, disc disorders, deterioration, abnormal development and arthritis.
Can chiropractic care help with fibromyalgia?
Doctors don’t know what causes fibromyalgia—a condition marked by body-wide pain, tingling and exhaustion—but they believe it has to do with repeated nerve stimulation, which causes the brain’s pain receptors to become more sensitive. Patients with this condition often seek chiropractic treatment for relief from their neck, back and leg pain.
Chiropractic care can help with fibromyalgia pain by improving the functioning of the nervous system, which in turn boosts the immune system. It can also relieve compression of the upper spine, which often accompanies the condition and can amplify pain across the entire body.
Do sports chiropractors do more than just treat injuries?
There’s a reason most professional sports teams have a chiropractor on staff—and it’s not just to treat the occasional injury. Chiropractic care can help athletes improve their performance, prevent injuries and maximize their training. Its benefits also include better balance and coordination, giving athletes a competitive edge.
These are just a few of the questions you can expect to answer as a doctor of chiropractic. By arming your patients with knowledge about the profession, you can help them make more informed decisions about their care.