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Chiropractic FAQ

1. How many years of school does it take to be a Doctor of Chiropractic?
2. What do chiropractors do?
3. How does chiropractic work?
4. What is a "subluxation"?
5. What causes subluxation?
6. What can a subluxation cause?
7. What is an adjustment?
8. Does the adjustment hurt?
9. Is chiropractic adjustment safe?
10. What causing the "popping or cracking" sound when I get an adjustment?
11. What if I don't like that "popping or cracking" sound?  Are there different types of adjustments?
12. When can I expect to feel better?
13. I've heard that once I start care, I'll have to go forever.  Is that true?
14. My friend went to a chiropractor and didn't get any results.
15. Do Chiropractor believe in drugs (pharmaceutical)?
16. What kind of problems do chiropractors treat?
17. Does chiropractic straightening my spine?
18. Does chiropractic cure cancer or other diseases?
19. Do chiropractors treat pinched nerves?
20. Should I get my spine checked even if I don't have any back pain?
21. Is chiropractic good for children or elderly people?
22. Should my pregnant wife get adjusted?
23. Will chiropractic improve my posture?
24. Do I have to have x-rays?
25. If I bring my own, fairly recent x-rays, do I have to take new one?
26. What happens on the first visit?
27. What to do if you are in an auto accident?
28. What if I have a slipped disc?
29. Can I just drop in without a scheduled appointment?
30. Does the doctor get adjusted?
31. Will my insurance cover chiropractic?

How many years of school does it take to be a Doctor of Chiropractic?
Most chiropractic colleges require 4 years of undergraduate college with a strong emphasis on the sciences courses.  Most chiropractic colleges take just 4 years.  All chiropractic colleges teach year round; therefore many students complete their studies in just three and a half calendar years.  Chiropractic receives an education that emphasizes neuromuscular diagnosis and treatment.  The courses of study in a chiropractic college include the same basic courses as in medical and dental colleges: anatomy, physiology, histology, biochemistry, clinical, and radiological diagnosis, etc.  In chiropractic colleges there is a heavy emphasis on biomechanics, X-ray interpreting, physical therapy, adjusting, and extensive clinical training.  Each student must also pass the demanding National Board Examination throughout their years in school.  After graduation, the chiropractor must take a separate state board exam of each state in which the chiropractor may want to practice. All chiropractors must continue with their post graduate courses (continuing education-CE) to stay abreast of current research and for license renewal.

What do chiropractors do?
Chiropractic is a health care system which involves correcting biomechanical deficiencies in the joints of the body, especially in the spine, to return the body to normal homeostasis.  In addition, many doctors of chiropractic, use adjunctive therapy to accelerate the body's natural healing process.  This may include (but is not limited to) physiotherapy modalities (i.e. ultrasound, hot/cold packs, electrical stimulation, etc.) traction, corrective exercise, vitamin/mineral therapy, bracing, and in some states, acupuncture.

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How does chiropractic work?
Chiropractic works through restoring the normal function of the spine (and other) joints of the body and allowing the body's natural healing processes to take effect.  In essence, we remove the restrictions to healing.  (When caused at the spine, this is often referred to as the Vertebral Subluxation Complex).  It is not fully determined HOW this process works, but it is speculated that it has to do with removal of interference to nerve fibers through proprioceptive response to the chiropractic therapy.  This proprioceptive response creates measurable chemical changes in the body which affects the spinal nerves, spinal discs, muscles, ligaments and tendons.  There may be also some effect to the autonomic nervous system through this response, but as yet this is not reproducible by scientific method, even though clinical response has been positive.

What is a "subluxation"?
A subluxation is a misalignment of the two or more vertebrae(s) (bones of the spine) that house and protect the spinal cord. Any misalignment of the vertebrae(s) puts unnecessary pressure on the nerve system and can become irritated and inflame the nerve supply to different parts of the organ(s) to the body.  The organ(s) that are supplied by the nerve don't work up to their full potential, and thus suffer a loss of health.

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What causes subluxation?
A person can become subluxated in a wide variety of ways.  Some sort of fall or jarring to the spine.  Examples of this are: falling out of bed, getting tackled in football, falling off a bicycle, missing the curb as you walk down the street, automobile accidents (whiplash).  Other physical causes include:  improper sleeping (sleeping on the stomach), sitting, carrying, lifting, standing, and prolonged activities (e.g. cleaning overhead too long), sudden, and abrupt motions.  Often, people develop their first subluxation during birth when the doctors use forces of up to 60 to 100 lbs to aid the delivery.

What can a subluxation cause?
The most noted effects of a subluxation are:  headaches, neck pain, mid back pain, hip pain, low back pain, shoulder, elbow, wrist, arm, hand, knee, ankle, and leg (pain, tingling, numbness, weakness).

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What is an adjustment?
An adjustment is the term used to describe what chiropractors do to the joints of the body, especially those of the spine.  It is known in the medical community as spinal manipulation.  To give an adjustment the chiropractor will place his/her hands along the spine and give a short and quick "push" or thrust.  This helps to loosen the joint and/or restore the vertebra to its proper position.  This reduces or eliminates the irritation to the nerves that exit the spine at that location.

Does the adjustment hurt?
Under normal circumstances, adjustment doesn't hurt.  The patient may experience a minor amount of discomfort during the adjustment that lasts only seconds, but if a person is already in pain any movement of course can be uncomfortable.  It's like if you have "cracked" your knuckles, then you've experience the same feeling as an adjustment.  The adjustment is designed to ultimately reduce or eliminate the pain.

Is chiropractic adjustment safe?
Chiropractic adjustments or manipulations are extremely safe.  The risk factor is estimated to be in excess of one million to one.

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What causing the "popping or cracking" sound when I get an adjustment?
The "popping or cracking" sound is a gas bubble escaping from the joint.  It is the same thing that happens when you crack your knuckles.  It's of no consequence, since the gas is dissolved back into the lubricating fluid in the joint in about 20 minutes.  The patient's bones do not crack.

What if I don't like that "popping or cracking" sound?  Are there different types of adjustments?
Yes, there are many different types of chiropractic techniques such as activator, Thompson drops, or Cox flexion and distraction to adjust the spine.

When can I expect to feel better?
Obviously, no doctor can accurately answer this question.  Different patients have different healing times. However, chiropractic is known for its fast results.  Many of our patients feel better right away.  The majority feel better within  a few days.  Very few notice a change before the end of the first month.  Healing is dependant on the length of time a patient has had the subluxations, the severity of their problem, and how well they follow the doctor's advice.

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I've heard that once I start care, I'll have to go forever.  Is that true?
No, in our office we generally give the patients choices in three types of care:  Relief care, i.e. care to get rid of the pain.  Corrective care, i.e. care to correct the cause of the problem.  Maintenance care, i.e. care to maintain the gain that has been made.  However, correcting the cause of a problem takes longer.  The patient has an option of discontinuing care when the pain subsides, when the patient completes the corrective care, or the patient can continue with what we call maintenance care.  It is completely up to the patient.  The purpose of maintenance care is to keep the spine healthy and to avoid a reoccurrence of a spinal-related problems.  Just as you go to the dentist for regular checkups, having your spine checked by the doctor is as important, if not more so.  But the choice is always yours.

My friend went to a chiropractor and didn't get any results.
That's too bad, and sometimes that happens.  This also happens when people see medical doctors, dentists, acupuncturists, etc.  However, most people get a second opinion from another doctor.  The same is true in chiropractic.   Chiropractic care is known for its quick results, and sometimes a change in technique, i.e. adjusting method, from another chiropractor will accomplish the job.  Your friend might have been a few visits away from relief had he/she sought a second opinion.

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Do Chiropractor believe in drugs (pharmaceutical)?
There are many conditions which require drugs, diabetes, for example.  For these conditions people should and must take their medication.  But it can be harmful when it masks the symptoms instead of taking care of the problem that is causing the patient discomfort or disease.  There are times when access to pain killers would be beneficial to alleviate a patient's "unbearable" pain; however I find that I just work harder to get the patient past the "unbearable" stage.  For many others the answer to health could be lying within their own body.  Chiropractors believe that the body can heal itself.  Chiropractic was designed from the outset to be drugless, as an alternative to allopathic medicine.  Many conditions respond to chiropractic care after the nervous system has been restored to normal function.  The chiropractic approach to health is this:  First: chiropractic, Second: drugs, and Third: Surgery.

What kind of problems do chiropractors treat?
Doctors of chiropractic treat neuro-musculo-skeletal problems (nerve, muscle, bone) such as neck pain, low back pain, and pain involved after accidents.  Chiropractic care is also very effective in the treatment of headaches, especially tension headaches.  Chiropractic doctors should not treat, and should refer to proper physicians, cancers, bone infections, HIV, fractures, or any neurologic active lesion (i.e. neuroblastoma).  However, this does not mean if patients with these problems present with chiropractic problems also, that they cannot receive chiropractic treatment.  (This is a problem that some insurance companies and some medical physicians do not understand).

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Does chiropractic straightening my spine?
It depends on what is causing the spine to NOT be straight.  If the cause is a lot of arthritis and degeneration, it is unlikely that the spine can be straightened.  If the cause is related to muscle tightness, there is a much greater chance that the spine can be straightened.

Does chiropractic cure cancer or other diseases?
Chiropractic treats the misalignments of the spine and the interferences in the nervous system caused by the misalignments.  Chiropractic does not cure cancer or any other diseases.  The chiropractic adjustment can help relieve the pain associated with different diseases.  There are a number of different health conditions which have been helped through chiropractic care.  As a result of chiropractic care, many patients experience improvement due to the body's innate ability to heal itself.

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Do chiropractors treat pinched nerves?
Pinched nerves are usually characterized by numbness, burning, or "pins and needles" feeling.  They are caused by direct pressure from vertebrae on the nerves.  These sensations usually respond very well to chiropractic care.  Only 10-15% of spine-related problems are caused by vertebrae putting direct pressure on the nerves.  Most of the time, problems are due to the nerves becoming irritated by being stretched, rubbed, or scraped, no pinched.

Should I get my spine checked even if I don't have any back pain?
Of course you should!  Do you go to the dentist every 6 months to get cleaning?  Do you take your car in for its 10,000 miles check up?  So getting your spine checked is not only an idea whose time has come, it can go a long way to keeping you healthy.

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Is chiropractic good for children or elderly people?
Chiropractic is good for all patients, because chiropractic care centers on the spine.  Different techniques are used for children and the elderly due to their spine's delicate nature.  Children need chiropractic care so they do not develop the problems we see in most adults, like nerve compression and arthritis.  It is especially important to have children checked by the doctor after they have had a fall.  Chiropractic care can help the elderly from developing more serious complications from their longstanding spinal and nerve related conditions.  Personally I have treated babies a few days old to patients 90 years old.

Should my pregnant wife get adjusted?
Yes, adjustments during pregnancy to remove subluxations can help ease the discomforts of pregnancy and labor, not to mention ensuring a healthier mother.  Naturally, the procedures used to adjust a pregnant woman will vary depending on her condition.

Will chiropractic improve my posture?
Most patients have seen their posture improve as a result of chiropractic care.

Do I have to have x-rays?
The doctor will determine if x-rays are necessary during the examination and then will discuss this with you.

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If I bring my own, fairly recent x-rays, do I have to take new one?
If you have them, please DO bring them, as they will help the doctor with his examination.  If doctor determines at the end of the examination that new films are necessary, he will advise you and discuss why he feels they are necessary.

What happens on the first visit?
On the first visit, the chiropractor will ask you about your health complaints and you are chiefly concerned.  The chiropractor will also ask about your family history, dietary habits, other care you may have had (chiropractic, osteopathic, medical, etc.), your job, and other questions designed to help determine the nature of your illness and the best way to go about treating the problem.    After the doctor reviews this with you, he will perform a physical examination.  Depending on the results of the exam and your history, he may or may not take X-rays.  Also, depending on the severity of the findings, he may treat you on the first visit.

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What to do if you are in an auto accident?
If you are involved in an auto accident or other type of accident that causes immediate pain or immobility, call my office immediately to set up an appointment.  So I can do a thorough physical examination and take your x-ray if needed.  Many persons come to my office for care long after an accident, making the symptoms more difficult to treat, and a correction and proper healing much more difficult to accomplish.  Injuries are best treated within the first 5-7 days with chiropractic care.  If the only care you getting is painkillers, hot packs and massage, you are missing an important part of getting well.  Correcting the spine is just as important as any other thing you may do to get well.

What if I have a slipped disc?
There is actually no such thing as a "slipped" disc.  The spinal discs are a cushioning piece of tissue that lie between each bone of the spine.  There are two parts to the disc, the annulus (the tough part, like gristle) and the nucleus (a soft center, about the consistency of peanut butter).  If the spinal vertebra tilt and create a wedge, the nucleus can bulge toward the open end of the wedge area.  This can cause undue pressure on the spinal nerve roots or on the spinal cord.  If the annulus becomes torn (partially or fully) the nucleus can migrate into the tear, putting even more pressure on spinal nerves or on the cord.  The correct terminology for this is "herniated" disc.  Chiropractors can (gently) treat a herniated disc, within all but the most severe tears.

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Can I just drop in without a scheduled appointment?
The doctor is available to see a patient in an emergency; otherwise, the patient should follow the schedule that the doctor has prescribed.

Does the doctor get adjusted?
Yes.  As a practitioner of chiropractic, the doctor is also a patient of chiropractic.

Will my insurance cover chiropractic?
About 80% of insurance plans cover chiropractic.  We will verify your benefits when you come to our office for the first visit.

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