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.
July 11, 2017
This article was so informative on what to do when choosing a chiropractor. My back has been in a lot of pain ever since I got a new mattress. We just threw the mattress out but I need to get spine fixed and have never been to a chiropractor. My favorite advice you gave was to ask the question on how much experience the doctor had and what they would recommend before doing anything since they may specialize in a practice. I never would have thought to ask that since I assume the doctor would be general in chiropractic knowledge. Thanks for the tips.
Dr. Ronald "Chip" Weisel, II
July 11, 2017
I am glad you found the article helpful, Barbara.
July 13, 2017
My wife is visiting her chiropractor for the first time tomorrow and isn’t sure what to expect, so this article was incredibly helpful. I really like that you recommend asking if the chiropractor will respect your treatment preferences. In my opinion, I think medical professionals should always respect the wishes of patients if they aren’t comfortable with certain treatments. Communication is key! Thanks for sharing.
Dr. Ronald "Chip" Weisel, II
July 13, 2017
I am glad you found the article helpful, Derek. Regards, Dr. Weisel
August 1, 2017
I’ve been struggling with back pain for a little over a week, and my wife wants me to go check out some chiropractic services. I think that being able to be well informed about what to expect at a chiropractic appointment would be helpful, so I’m glad I found your article! You talked about finding a chiropractor who offers adjunctive services, and I think that being able to get that kind of help is exactly what I’m looking for! Thank you!
March 10, 2019
I’m a bit late on this post but i’m so glad that I have found it. I have been having excruciating back pain for the last two weeks and my multiple visits to the doctors have not been able to relieve it. Now i know where I should be going instead and hopefully we can get this fixed! Appreciate your time in creating this for people like me.
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