Why Chiropractic Might Be the Future of Holistic Health

Chiropractic care embodies holistic health, providing natural avenues for bone, joint, and muscle wellness. Self healing therapy for musculoskeletal issues.

Table of Contents

Chiropractors are licensed health professionals who emphasize the body’s self-healing abilities. They focus on the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes bones, nerves, and muscles.

Common reasons to visit a chiropractor include:

    • Lower back pain

    • Neck pain

    • Whiplash and Accidental Injuries

    • Arthritis

    • Sciatica

    • Muscle discomfort

    • Headaches

Additionally, they can alleviate pain anywhere in the body, from the head and jaw to the knees and ankles. By adjusting the spine and realigning joints, they aim to improve overall bodily functions. A common technique they employ is the “high velocity thrust,” a rapid motion applied to the spine. Diagnostics can involve X-rays, and treatments often span six sessions, starting frequently and then tapering to weekly visits.

What does a chiropractor do?

Chiropractors examine patients’ spine alignment and muscle reflexes to diagnose and devise a treatment plan. They believe in the body’s natural healing ability, focusing mainly on hands-on spinal adjustments.

Treatment options include:

    • Spinal realignment to enhance mobility and reduce pain.

    • Suggested exercises for joint flexibility.

    • Soft tissue treatments for muscle relief.

    • Kinesio taping for injured muscles or joints.

Some may also use heat/cold therapies, dietary advice, massage, ultrasound, or orthotic inserts. If necessary, they might refer patients to holistic health specialists for further care.

What certifications must chiropractors have?

Contrary to popular belief, chiropractors undergo extensive training before obtaining their license. They typically pursue about 8 years of higher education.

Most chiropractors start with 4 years of undergraduate studies, often majoring in fields like biology or kinesiology, where they study biology, chemistry, psychology, and physics.

Following this, they embark on a 4-year chiropractic graduate program totaling around 4,200 instructional hours. Here’s a brief overview:

    • First Year: General anatomy, chiropractic principles, biochemistry, spinal anatomy.

    • Second Year: Chiropractic procedures, pathology, clinical orthopedics, imaging, research methods.

    • Third Year: Clinical internships, integrated care, pediatrics, dermatology, ethics, and practice management.

    • Fourth Year: A hands-on clinical internship under an experienced chiropractor, including hospital or clinic rotations.

After their education, they take the state licensing exam in the U.S. Once licensed and certified, they earn the title “doctor of chiropractic”. Many chiropractors also pursue further training in specialties like nutrition, sports medicine, or orthopedic rehabilitation.

Salary for Chiropractor 

As of August 27, 2023, chiropractors earned a median annual salary of $162,807, which equates to $78.27 per hour.

Are Chiropractors Doctors?

Chiropractors, while not medical doctors (MDs), are doctors in the realm of chiropractic care. Though they don’t have an MD degree, their education covers many subjects that medical students study, such as anatomy, physiology, radiology, and more. Their classroom, lab, and patient interaction hours are comparable to those of medical school students.

What do chiropractors attempt to heal?

Chiropractors primarily focus on diagnosing and treating neuromusculoskeletal disorders, emphasizing treatments involving manual adjustment and manipulation of the spine. They aim to:

Alleviate Pain: Especially related to the back, neck, and joints.

Restore Mobility: Improving range of motion hampered by spinal misalignments.

Enhance Function: Addressing issues of the musculoskeletal system to ensure optimal functioning.

Promote Natural Healing: Encouraging the body’s innate capacity to heal without surgery or medication.

Preventative Care: Offering guidance on posture, exercise, and ergonomics to prevent future issues.

Apart from these, chiropractors also provide care for headaches, certain types of migraines, and pain related to accidents or injuries. They may also give advice on nutrition, exercise, and overall wellness.

Conditions a chiropractor can treat

Chiropractors treat various musculoskeletal conditions, including:

    • Low Back Pain: From misalignments or muscle strains.

    • Neck Pain: Due to posture, injuries, or degeneration.

    • Headaches and Migraines: Often linked to neck issues.

    • Sciatica: Pain from a pinched nerve in the lower back.

    • Whiplash: Resulting from sudden neck movements.

    • Scoliosis: Abnormal spinal curvature.

    • Joint Pain: In areas like shoulders, knees, and hips.

    • Sports Injuries: Such as sprains and strains.

    • Osteoarthritis: A degenerative joint condition.

    • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Nerve compression in the wrist.

    • Plantar Fasciitis: Heel pain from foot inflammation.

    • Fibromyalgia: Chronic pain and fatigue.

Chiropractic care involves manual adjustments, exercises, and lifestyle recommendations.

Who can get a chiropractic adjustment?

People most commonly seek chiropractic care for low back pain, neck pain, and headaches. It’s a valuable tool for pain management, with chiropractors ensuring optimal muscle function around joints. They can also address arthritis-related joint issues, enhancing range of motion and alleviating muscle spasms through gentle manipulation. Additionally, chiropractors can assist with:

    • Post-accident pain or whiplash complications

    • Malfunctioning or painful joints

    • Muscle stiffness or discomfort.

Chiropractic care can help alleviate pain and discomfort for certain acute and chronic conditions:

    • Low Back Pain: Studies suggest chiropractic therapy is effective for acute low back pain. Adding chiropractic care to regular medical treatment has shown moderate improvements in pain intensity and functionality.

    • Neck Pain: Neck pain is a common reason people seek chiropractic care. Research indicates it can offer relief for both chronic and acute neck pain. Chiropractors employ various techniques, including thoracic manipulation and neck mobilization. It’s most effective when combined with manual therapy and exercise.

    • Headaches: Evidence suggests that chiropractic therapy, especially spinal manipulation, can benefit migraine and cervicogenic headache sufferers.

    • Osteoarthritis: While chiropractic therapy is safe for osteoarthritis-related back and neck pain, it shouldn’t be applied to actively inflamed joints.

    • Asthma: Chiropractic treatment can complement traditional asthma treatment, but shouldn’t replace it.

What does a chiropractic adjustment do for you?

A chiropractic adjustment involves:

    • A quick, precise thrust to a vertebra.

    • An audible release of gas (joint cavitation) due to the expulsion of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, reducing joint pressure.

    • Usually, patients feel relief, though some might experience brief discomfort, especially if muscles are tense or in spasm.

Occasionally, no joint cavitation occurs, often due to muscle tension or the patient not being relaxed. In such cases, chiropractors might use ice, rest, electrical stimulation, or massage before attempting another adjustment.

Spinal manipulation

Chiropractors frequently use spinal manipulation, also known as a ‘chiropractic adjustment’, a technique also employed by osteopaths and physiotherapists. The goal is to enhance joint mobility by targeting joints hindered by tissue injuries. Such injuries might arise from one-off events, like lifting a heavy item improperly, or from ongoing strains, such as maintaining poor posture for prolonged periods. These injuries can trigger inflammation, pain, and reduced function.

Through adjustments, chiropractors aim to improve mobility, mitigate pain, and foster tissue healing. When executed by qualified professionals, spinal manipulation is generally safe. Some might feel minor discomfort post-treatment, usually subsiding within 12 to 48 hours. Chiropractors ensure patients are informed about potential effects beforehand.

Can chiropractor help sciatica?

Chiropractic care offers an effective, non-invasive treatment for sciatica by aiding the body’s self-healing process. Key chiropractic treatments for sciatica include:

    • Adjustments: Spinal realignments alleviate pain tied to nerve inflammation and enhance overall bodily function.

    • Ultrasound: Sound waves produce mild heat deep within tissues, promoting circulation and easing muscle spasms and pain.

    • Ice or Cold Therapy: Helps control pain and reduce inflammation.

    • TENS: Portable devices deliver electrical currents to control pain and prevent muscle spasms.

    • Medications: They might advise consulting your doctor for muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, or steroids.

    • Imaging Scans: X-rays or MRIs could be necessary for a deeper assessment.

Chiropractors may also recommend exercises, dietary advice, and employ various techniques tailored to individual patient needs. By understanding a patient’s daily activities and potential pain triggers, chiropractors personalize treatment plans for optimal relief.

Risks and side effects of chiropractic

Following a chiropractic adjustment, it’s common to feel fatigue or soreness, and some might experience mild headaches. These effects are usually short-lived.

However, rare but serious complications can arise from chiropractic care, including:

    • Herniated disks.

    • Lower spine pinched nerves (cauda equina syndrome).

    • Stroke.

Many individuals have found significant relief through chiropractic care. A 2015 study indicated that patients initially felt greater pain reduction with chiropractic care than traditional medical care, though pain levels evened out between the two groups after four months.

However, there are risks with chiropractic care. While rare, the most severe is the potential risk of stroke, especially after neck manipulations. Some patients might also experience injuries due to forceful adjustments.

To minimize risks, always seek treatments from licensed and trained chiropractors.

How much does a chiropractic visit typically cost?

The cost of a chiropractic adjustment can fluctuate based on factors such as location, the nature of care, the chiropractor, and the treatment plan. Prices can range from $30 to $300 per session.

Below is a comprehensive breakdown of the usual out-of-pocket expenses you might encounter at a chiropractic clinic.

Prestige Health & Wellness New York, NY Initial visit: $125 (consultation and treatments included) Follow-up visit with massage: $75 Follow-up visit without massage: $50 All visit prices include consultation, treatments, and tests.
The LA Chiropractor Los Angeles, CA Initial visit: $250 (consultation and X-rays included) Follow-up visit: $90 – $135 (price varies by treatment)   Only the follow-up visit includes treatment and a complimentary X-ray report.
Chicago Chiropractor Chicago, IL Initial visit: $75 (consultation and treatment included) Follow-up visit: $60 – $75 (price varies by treatment)   Each visit consists of a 10-minute consultation and 30-45 minutes of treatment.
Whole Health Chiropractic Boston, MA Initial visit: $145 (includes consultation, test reports, and first treatment) Follow-up visit: $85 (1 treatment session)   The initial visit is 45 minutes, and follow-ups are 15-25 minutes based on treatment.

Does Medicare pay for chiropractic services?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program primarily for those 65 and older, covering certain chiropractic services like spinal manipulations for back pain. The American Chiropractic Association notes that about 80% of people will experience back pain during their lives.

Chiropractors specialize in treating musculoskeletal issues, including neck, joint, and back pain, and some types of headaches. While chiropractic care has been beneficial for specific pain points, there have been instances where practitioners made unsupported claims about its benefits for non-spinal conditions. However, by 2016, guidelines were proposed to bolster its scientific credibility, leading most chiropractors to focus on spine-related treatments.

What parts of Medicare cover chiropractic care?

Medicare Part B covers some chiropractic care expenses, funding 80% of the treatment cost once the annual deductible is met. Medicare Advantage (Part C), offered by private insurers as an alternative to traditional Medicare, may provide varied coverage depending on the specific plan and region. With Medicare Advantage, plans like health maintenance organizations or preferred provider organizations necessitate using in-network providers for full reimbursement. Before seeking chiropractic care, it’s essential to ensure the practitioner is in-network. For those on traditional Medicare, Medigap plans can help cover chiropractic care copayments, but these are not available to Medicare Advantage subscribers.

Regulation of chiropractic

The regulation of chiropractic varies across countries, reflecting different histories, philosophies, and approaches to healthcare. Here’s a general overview of the regulation in the USA, Australia, UK, and Canada:

1. USA:

    • Regulatory Body: Every state has its own Chiropractic Board.

    • Licensing: Chiropractors are required to have a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and must pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exam. Licensure is state-specific; chiropractors must be licensed in each state they practice.

    • Scope of Practice: Varies by state but generally includes the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, primarily through spinal manipulation.

2. Australia:

    • Regulatory Body: The Chiropractic Board of Australia, under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

    • Scope of Practice: Emphasizes the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

3. UK:

    • Regulatory Body: The General Chiropractic Council (GCC).

    • Licensing: Chiropractors must be registered with the GCC to practice in the UK. They usually have a degree in accredited by the GCC.

    • Scope of Practice: Focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing musculoskeletal issues, with an emphasis on spinal adjustments.

4. Canada:

    • Regulatory Body: Every province has its own regulatory board, like the College of Chiropractors of Ontario.

    • Licensing: Chiropractors need to complete a degree from an accredited institution and must pass national and provincial board exams to practice in a specific province.

    • Scope of Practice: Similar to the US, it generally revolves around the diagnosis and treatment of neuromusculoskeletal disorders, primarily via spinal manipulation, but the exact scope can vary by province.

In all these countries, regulations aim to ensure the safety and efficacy of chiropractic care, protect patient rights, and uphold high standards of professional conduct.

Conclusion

Chiropractors are healthcare professionals trained to diagnose, treat, and prevent neuromusculoskeletal issues primarily through manual adjustments or spinal manipulations. A certified chiropractor usually possesses a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and must pass national and/or state board exams, depending on the country’s regulations.

Central to their approach is the belief in the body’s innate ability to heal itself, given the right conditions. By adjusting the spine, chiropractors aim to ensure the optimal function of the nervous system, thus alleviating conditions like back pain, neck pain, and headaches. Notably, many individuals suffering from sciatica, a painful condition stemming from nerve compression, have found relief through chiropractic care.

Almost anyone can benefit from a chiropractic adjustment, unless contra-indicated due to certain medical conditions. Chiropractors treat a range of conditions including, but not limited to, muscle strains, joint pains, and postural imbalances. Spinal manipulation is a cornerstone technique used, but many chiropractors incorporate holistic approaches, considering lifestyle, nutrition, and exercise in their treatment plans.

However, like any medical treatment, there are associated risks. These might range from temporary soreness to, in very rare cases, complications like stroke. Hence, the significance of seeking care from a regulated, licensed practitioner.

Cost and insurance coverage for chiropractic care vary widely. In the U.S., for instance, parts of Medicare do cover some services, although out-of-pocket costs can differ broadly. Globally, the cost fluctuates based on factors like location and the nature of the treatment.

Regarding regulation, specific boards or councils in countries like the USA, Australia, UK, and Canada, ensuring that practitioners maintain high standards of care and ethical conduct.

In conclusion, chiropractic care, rooted in a holistic philosophy, offers a drug-free alternative for those grappling with musculoskeletal issues. While it provides relief to many, it’s imperative to approach it informed, understanding both its potential benefits and risks, and to consult regulated professionals to ensure the best care.

FAQs

Chiropractors diagnose and treat musculoskeletal conditions, primarily through spinal adjustments and manipulation.

Chiropractors are trained healthcare professionals, but it’s essential to choose a licensed practitioner for safe treatment.

Chiropractors can offer treatments that may help alleviate sciatica symptoms, but results vary among individuals.

Chiropractors use detailed examinations, patient history, and sometimes imaging tests to pinpoint areas requiring adjustment.