Return to Chiropractic

Chiropractic Questions and Answers Page

Frequently Asked Questions About Chiropractic

Q: What conditions do chiropractors treat?

A: Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) care for patients of all ages, with a variety of health conditions.  They are especially well known for their expertise with back pain, neck pain and headaches.  Doctors of Chiropractic are well trained professionals who provide patients with safe, effective care for a wide range of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system, involving the muscles, ligaments and joints.  These painful conditions often involve or impact the nervous system and can cause referred pain and dysfunctions.  The benefits of chiropractic care extend to general health issues, as well, since our body structure affects our overall function.  DCs also counsel patients on diet, nutrition, exercise, healthy habits, and occupational and lifestyle modification.

Q: How do I select a doctor of chiropractic?

A: One of the best ways to select a DC is by getting a referral from a friend, family member, colleague, or another health care provider.  

Q: Is chiropractic treatment safe?

A: YES.  As well trained professionals, Doctors of chiropractic provide patients with safe, effective care for a variety of common conditions. Their extensive education has prepared them to identify patients who have special risk factors and to get those patients the most appropriate care, even if that requires referral to another medical specialist.

Chiropractic is one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies 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.

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 health care provider.

Moreover, the number of prescriptions for powerful drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone have tripled in the past 12 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that abuse of these commonly prescribed painkillers are among the leading causes of accidental death in the United States. Overdoses of opioid painkillers are responsible for some 15,000 deaths per year; that’s more than the number of deaths from cocaine and heroin combined.

Q: Does chiropractic treatment require a referral from an MD?

A: No.  However, your health plan may have specific referral requirements. You may want to contact your employer’s human resources department—or the insurance plan directly—to ask questions about any referral requirements. Most plans allow you to call and schedule an appointment with a DC. 

Q: Is chiropractic treatment appropriate for children?

A: Yes, children can benefit from chiropractic care. Children are very physically active and experience many types of falls and blows from activities of daily living as well as from participating in sports.  Injuries such as these may cause many symptoms including back and neck pain, stiffness, soreness or discomfort.    

Q: Can chiropractors practice in hospitals or use medical outpatient         facilities?

A: Chiropractors can treat patients in hospitals and are able to use outpatient clinical facilities (such as labs, x-rays, etc.).  Hospital privileges were first granted in 1983.

Q: Do insurance plans cover chiropractic?

A: Yes.  Most major medical plans, workers’ compensation, Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross Blue Shield cover Chiropractic care.  Chiropractic care is also available to active-duty members of the armed forces at military bases and veterans medical facilities.  We are happy to help you verify your insurance coverage.

Q: What type of education and training do chiropractors have?

A: Doctors of chiropractic are primary care providers.  Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions.  Their scope of practice includes an emphasis on diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to the Body’s frame.  This includes the muscles, ligaments and joints of the spine and extremities and the nerves that supply them.  The typical applicant for chiropractic college has already acquired four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education.  College courses include biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related lab work. Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college, 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.  A significant portion of time is spent in clinical technique training to master these important manipulative procedures because chiropractic care requires skilled manipulation/adjusting techniques.  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 fully recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Q: How does a chiropractic perform an adjustment ?

A: A chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is a skilled manual procedure that is developed during the doctor’s intensive years of chiropractic education. The chiropractic physician uses his or her hands, or an instrument, to manipulate the joints of the body in order to restore or enhance joint function. This often helps resolve joint inflammation and reduces the patient’s pain. The chiropractor adapts the procedure to meet the specific needs of each patient.  Patients often note positive changes in their symptoms immediately following treatment. 

Q: Is chiropractic treatment ongoing?

A: The hands-on nature of the chiropractic treatment requires patients to visit the chiropractor a number of times.  A patient needs to be in the office to be treated by a chiropractor.  A chiropractor may provide acute, chronic, and/or preventive care thus making a certain number of visits sometimes necessary. Your doctor should tell you the extent of treatment recommended and how long you can expect it to last.

Q: When a joint is adjusted, why is there a popping sound ?

A: Adjustment (or manipulation) 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.  There is usually minimal, if any, discomfort involved.