Frequently Asked Questions
- What is chiropractic?
- What does the adjustment or manipulation of the vertebrae actually do?
- Will I have to keep going to the chiropractor forever?
- Is a chiropractor a "real" doctor?
- Are X-Rays required?
- What causes that "popping or cracking noise" after an adjustment/manipulation?
- Do chiropractors presribe medications?
- Can I adjust or "crack" my own neck?
- How often do I need treatment?
- Does the adjustment hurt?
- Are chiropractic adjustments safe?
- Do I have a pinched nerve?
- Do I have a slipped disc?
- Can I have chiropractic care after back surgery?
- How old should a person be before he or she begins chiropractic care?
- How does chiropractic care help during pregnancy?
What is chiropractic?
Chiropractic is based on the relationship between the spine and nervous system. When the bones in your spine are not moving properly, or are out of their proper position, irritation to the nerve of a joint may occur. This can manifest in the form of numbness, tingling, pain or burning. Chiropractic care and the adjustment/manipulation of the spine restores the proper position and movement of the bones and joints within the spinal column and/or extremities.
Chiropractic is a drug-free method of health care that emphasizes locating and treating areas of spinal misalignment, improving the functioning of the body, thereby eliminating pain. The symptom of pain is how your body communicates to let you know that something is wrong. Chiropractors deliver 94% of all spinal manipulations/adjustments in the United States.
Doctors of Chiropractic are specialists in neuromusculoskeletal conditions. They are trained to restore the misaligned vertebrae to their proper position in the spinal column. They do this manually, utilizing the chiropractic procedure known as the "spinal adjustment or spinal manipulation." Usually, we will use our hands in applying corrective pressure to the spine in a specific direction and location. The manual force or thrust helps restore the alignment and mobility of the vertebrae.
- It separates the joint briefly, which stretches it and brings in joint fluid to promote normal motion.
- It stimulates receptors in the spine, which help block pain and normalize nerve signals.
- The adjustment increases blood flow to that area, which promotes healing.
- The muscles around the joint are stretched, which relieves muscle spasm and restores joint motion.
- Improves motion and decreases pain
Will I have to keep going to the chiropractor forever?
No. Most cases seen by doctors of chiropractic will respond in a relatively short period of time. In certain cases, longer treatment will be recommended, but on average it may take 12-16 visits. Once the original condition that caused the pain and discomfort has been resolved, it may still be necessary for you to return from time to time for supportive care.
Our goal is to get you out of the office and to return you to the activities you were doing prior to your injury. Some conditions however, which have been present years may take longer to heal and correct. An example of this may be the person who has a 20-year history of low back pain with arthritic changes in that region. Four weeks of care will not be able to "undue" the years of damage, hence, a longer period of treatment may be prescribed. The fact is, some people have neglected their ailment for years and hence, their condition may take a while to correct.
Is a chiropractor a "real" doctor?
A chiropractor is not a medical doctor (M.D.), but rather a doctor of chiropractic (D.C.). A student of chiropractic is required to have a Bachelor's degree from an undergraduate college prior to entering into Chiropractic College. Before graduating from chiropractic college and earning the doctor of chiropractic degree, the student will have completed more than 4,500 hours of classroom study. Also, before becoming licensed to practice, four separate national board exams are required and in Massachusetts a Jurisprudence exam is required before licensure. Please see the link to a chiropractor's education.
Are X-Rays required?
Not every patient needs to have x-rays taken. It will depend on your condition and information obtained from your examination. If there has been a recent injury such as a car accident, or fall, x-rays will usually be taken to make sure nothing has been broken.
What causes that "popping or cracking noise" after an adjustment/manipulation?
Not all adjusting techniques cause the "popping sound", however this has been researched and compared to popping your knuckles. British research shows that the sound is caused by gas rushing in to fill the partial vacuum created when the joints are slightly separated. There is a release of C02 and nitrogen gasses, much like opening a can of soda.
Do chiropractors presribe medications?
No. Sometimes, a phone call to your primary care doctor is made if we feel you may benefit from an anti-inflammatory or pain killer. This is ultimately left up to your primary care doctor however. It is important to remember that many medications just cover up the pain. This is misleading because the problem still exists.
Can I adjust or "crack" my own neck?
Some people can move their own joints until they hear a popping sound, as during an adjustment. This is because they have joints that are highly moveable (hypermobile). This is the body's way of compensating for the other joints in the body that don't move properly. Where there is a highly moveable joint, usually a "stuck" vertebrae can be found either above or below that site. So, if you are making your joints pop, you are not actually adjusting yourself. You are only making the joints that move too much move more.
How often do I need treatment?
Again, chiropractic treatment may involve multiple visits to move you from pain relief, to rehabilitation and stabilization. Many times, you need more than an adjustment or spinal manipulation. We use many other techniques and therapies to get you well.
Modalities like ultrasound and electrical stimulation are often employed. Muscle techniques using stretching, or myofascial release to help restore the normal length and elasticity to the muscles, ligaments and tendons. Rehabilitative exercises to improve coordination and strength. Diagnostic testing such x-ray or MRI may be ordered. Education in lifestyle changes and ergonomics. Sometimes a referral to an appropriate specialist is warranted.
Does the adjustment hurt?
Under normal circumstances, chiropractic adjustments/manipulations are painless. In cases of recent trauma, such as whiplash, mild discomfort may be experienced due to inflammation. It is also common to feel a brief sensation in the extremities immediately following an adjustment due to the sudden decompression of the affected nerve root. Most people feel an immediate relief and increased mobility following a treatment.
Are chiropractic adjustments safe?
Yes. A New Zealand government study found that adjustments are "remarkably safe." By avoiding drugs and risky surgery, chiropractic care enjoys an excellent track record. A thorough exam can identify the rare person for whom chiropractic care might be unsuited. Compare the statistics. Adjustments are about 100 times safer than taking an over-the-counter pain reliever.
Do I have a slipped disc?
The disc is a soft pulpy "shock absorber." It has a fibrous outer ring which holds in a jelly-like material. A "slipped disc" is a common way to refer to a wide variety of disc problems. However, a disc can't slip because of the way it attaches to the spinal bones above and below it. A disc can bulge. It can tear. It can herniate. It can thin. It can dry out. And it can collapse. But it can't slip.
Can I have chiropractic care after back surgery?
Yes. Rest assured that your chiropractic doctor will avoid the surgically modified areas of your spine. Surgery often causes instability above or below the involved level. These areas will be the focus of your chiropractic care.
How old should a person be before he or she begins chiropractic care?
Chiropractic patients range in years from birth to old age. The spinal adjustment and treatment approaches are tailored to each individual patient. For example, a 300 pound truck driver's treatment will differ form a treatment to an elderly person. Chiropractors are well trained to tailor their approach based on the individual.
How does chiropractic care help during pregnancy?
Structurally, as the uterus expands during pregnancy, the abdominal muscles are stretched and they lose their ability to help maintain good posture. The curve in the low back increases and the center of gravity is moved forward. This causes increased strain on the muscles and ligaments in the low back leading to pressure and pain. Chiropractic adjustments can help lower the incidence of pain in the low back and legs, and between the shoulder blades. Women also report fewer headaches and often less nausea or easier bowel movements. We have a specially designed table that allows pregnant women to lie face down comfortably even into their ninth month!