Is it time to call a chiropractor? The right doctor can help you get better faster when you have back and neck pain, but don’t assume that just any chiropractor is the right one for you. These suggestions will help you find the right doctor and get the most out of your chiropractic visits.
Ask these questions at the first visit or consultation:
- Do you offer any type of free consultation? I’m not referring to gimmicks like giving away free services, but rather an initial consultation with the chiropractor, when he or she will answer your questions before you agree or consent to treatment. If your chiropractor does not offer a complimentary consultation, it isn’t necessarily a reason to cross him or her off your list, but it never hurts to ask.
- What is your primary treatment technique? All chiropractors have preferred methods of treatment. Some chiropractors prefer more forceful manual-thrust manipulation, while others prefer to use more gentle and standardized techniques like the Activator Method. Neither approach is necessarily better, but you may be more comfortable with one or the other. And, use caution with any chiropractor who claims proficiency in all techniques.
- How much experience do you have using the treatment technique you are recommending? If your chiropractor states that he or she specializes in a specific technique, e.g. Activator Technique, ask about the training they have received (and go online to see if this is the recommended amount of training).
- Will you respect my preferences for a treatment plan? For example, if you prefer Activator Method spinal manipulation (with an instrument), will you get any pushback from the chiropractor? Or, if you are an experienced chiropractic patient and prefer to return for treatments as needed at your discretion, will the chiropractor respect your wishes?
- How long will my treatment plan last? Be wary of chiropractors who put you on an ongoing treatment plan with no specific answer as to how long they think your treatment will take. This may be a sign that they are more interested in making appointments than helping you heal. The concept of wellness and/or maintenance care may make sense, but the evidence just isn’t there yet. Also, be aware of any chiropractor who asks for an up-front lump-sum payment.
- Do you use x-rays in the course of treatment? Be careful of chiropractors who take x-rays in the office regardless of the problem. X-rays used to be the standard of care, but treatment plans for lower back pain and neck pain no longer require routine x-ray imaging.
- What services do you provide? Ideally, the chiropractor can provide adjunctive services, such as massage therapy, laser therapy, and nutritional advice, all under one roof. If these services are not available in the actual clinic, ask the chiropractor if he or she works with other professionals in these areas and if you will have help coordinating your care.
- What are the top 3 things I can do to get the best results? A good chiropractor will have an effective, personalized treatment plan designed just for you. Make sure your chiropractor has your best interest in mind by asking him or her to outline a specific and detailed plan of action.
- Under what circumstances would I need to see a different practitioner or spine specialist? If you fail to improve under the chiropractor’s care, you may need to see a specialist. Does your chiropractor acknowledge this and agree? At what point will he or she decide it’s time to refer you to a specialist? Will they help you arrange an appointment to see a spine specialist?
- Google the chiropractor. Hopefully, all you will see are his or her published 5K times, but if he or she has been in trouble with the law, you will most certainly find it on Google.
And one more thing…
Check if the chiropractor is licensed to practice by your state. Before a chiropractor can become licensed to practice, he or she must pass rigorous state and national exams. Go to the state license web site (e.g. Ohio eLicense Center) to look up a chiropractor by name and confirm he or she has an active license to provide chiropractic care.