If you’ve never been to a chiropractor before, you may have a lot of questions about your first visit, what to expect, and what kind of care you should receive. Chiropractic care has been maligned in some traditional medical circles, despite overwhelming evidence that it can improve your overall health, manage back problems, help with pain, and address chronic health issues: All without invasive surgery or habit-forming opioid pain pills.
With all of the promising benefits of chiropractic care, you will likely wonder why you didn’t start going sooner. The following covers some of the questions of first-time patients, which your chiropractor will also go over with you before beginning your care.
1.) What is a chiropractor?
A chiropractor is a healthcare practitioner who focuses on improving the health and well-being of their patients primarily through gentle spinal manipulation. They are trained to deal with the neuromuscular system, which can become faulty and slow patients down when the spine and other areas of the body are out of alignment. With regular adjustments, a chiropractor can restore blood flow and nerve activity to the spinal cord, muscles, and internal organs which promotes healing to injured areas, increased mobility, and improved overall health.
2.) Is a chiropractor a doctor?
A chiropractor is not a medical doctor, but they’ve attended school for about the same amount of time. There are currently 18 chiropractic colleges in the United States which are fully accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education. After receiving their 4-year undergraduate degree, students are accepted to 4-year programs at these institutions where they receive intensive classroom and field training to understand the many processes within the human body. In total, students spend about 4,200 hours in training and education. Most chiropractors spend additional time receiving more certifications after they’ve graduated.
3.) Is chiropractic care safe?
Chiropractic care is so safe that it is highly recommended for pregnant women and babies. Chiropractic care can alleviate pain, discomfort, and acid reflux in pregnant women, and even reduce the amount of labor time during birth. In babies suffering from colic, ear infections, and misalignments from birth, chiropractic’s gentle manipulation of the spine and nerves can alleviate symptoms and reduce general fussiness in babies.
Chiropractic care is non-invasive and drug-free, and with time, most patients see a marked improvement in their flexibility, mobility, immune system, and general well-being. Chiropractic is appropriate for all ages, and all stages of life.
4.) Will my insurance or Medicare pay for chiropractic care?
It depends on your insurance company. Some insurance companies cover a certain number of visits per calendar year, while others will cover care for acute injuries such as injuries sustained in a car accident. Some insurance plans, seeing the financial benefits of chiropractic care over surgical interventions, opt to cover chiropractic care completely.
Medicare Part B will cover 80% of chiropractic costs for subluxation in areas of the spine, but it does not cover diagnostic tests and services. Part C may cover more chiropractic services.
If you are concerned about paying for your care, many chiropractors will work out monthly payment plans with their patients for their ongoing care.
5.) What will happen on my first visit?
You will probably find your first visit to your chiropractor informative and interesting. You will begin by filling out a medical history and questionnaire, which will ask you about your reason for visiting and any current symptoms you are experiencing. Your chiropractor will come in and meet with you to discuss your questions and concerns.
Next, your chiropractor will probably want imaging of your spine to determine what could be contributing to the cause of your pain. He or she will have a technical assistant take X-rays of your neck and spine. Your chiropractor will review the results and ask you to perform a series of diagnostic tasks, such as bending over to touch your toes or bending side-to-side. Your chiropractor will then deliver their diagnosis, along with their recommended course of care.
Some chiropractors will begin treatment that day, while others will have you return the following day to go over the results and begin adjustments.
6.) What is an adjustment?
While spinal manipulation can sound slightly Medieval, in reality, most of the work is done by specially designed tables which move your spine for you with the force of your chiropractor’s hands. You will lie face-down on this table, and your chiropractor will run their hand over your vertebrae to check for misalignments.
Your practitioner will then lift the sections of the table where your spine is misaligned, and gently press down on your back to push down the section of the table. As the table moves, your spine will shift slightly in the direction your chiropractor pushes with their hands. Adjustment will realign the nerves and promote blood flow throughout the spine, reducing inflammation and inducing tissue regeneration.
7.) What conditions will chiropractic treat?
Chiropractic care is used to treat a number of conditions, many of them beyond back and neck injuries. Chiropractic care can also treat:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Knee pain
- Digestive issues
- Acid reflux
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Scar tissue break-up
- Plantar fasciitis
- Fertility issues
- Weak immune system
8.) How many chiropractic sessions will I need?
It depends on your reason for visiting. If you have an acute injury, or pain, which is the result of a degenerative condition, it may take several sessions to get your spine fully realigned. Chiropractors do their best to get their patients feeling better as quickly as possible. Your chiropractor will outline their recommended treatment plan for you, and you’ll probably see frequent visits in the first few weeks, which will taper off to fewer visits.
Many people love their chiropractic adjustments so much that even after they have been successfully healed, they continue to go for the benefits for their sleep, immune system, and energy.