What Does A Chiropractor Do?

What does a chiropractor do to fix your back problems and should you see one?

When you hear the word chiropractor you might immediately think of the word "quack". There is a great deal of disagreement about the effectiveness of chiropractors and what they can and can't do to help improve your health. Chiropractors are most commonly associated with relieving back pain. Some chiropractors may claim to be able to improve other health conditions such as asthma, chronic ear infections, and a myriad of other common medical conditions. You probably either love chiropractors or think that they use their techniques to keep reeling patients back into their office for repeated treatments. There may be truth to both of these schools of thought.

There is great evidence that chiropractors can help improve back pain and other musculoskeletal problems by realigning the vertebrae of the patient's spine. A chiropractor can manipulate vertebrae and cause them to move back into place. Repeated manipulations may be necessary because the vertebrae want to slip back into their old positions. A good chiropractor will use his hands to manipulate the vertebrae back into alignment. Some chiropractors use mechanical devices or small hammer-like tools to tap vertebrae back into place.

Some chiropractors subscribe to the theory of subluxation. Subluxation theory supposes that the misalignment of vertebrae puts pressure on components of the nervous system that in turn causes all sorts of health problems within the body. These chiropractors will tell you that chiropractic care is a necessary part of your health and well being. If you visit a chiropractor that subscribes to subluxation theory you will most likely be put on a regimen of regular chiropractic care indefinitely. There has not been any significant scientific proof that chiropractic care provides any improvement in non-musculoskeletal problems but it may provide a strong placebo effect to patients who are suffering from them.



A chiropractor may often point to the "˜popping' noise that occurs when he adjusts your vertebrae as evidence of misalignment. Chiropractors often use this sound to reinforce your belief that you need ongoing care. What many patients don't know is that it is possible to make this "˜popping' noise by manipulating normal aligned vertebrae.

Your first visit to a chiropractor can include any number of tests. A chiropractor will first ask you for your medical history and an indication of where you are experiencing pain. Some chiropractors will perform x-rays on your spine to check of misalignments and specific problems. Chiropractors who subscribe to the theory of subluxation may have special sensor scopes that they use on your spine to detect areas of warmth that would indicate restriction of nerves. Once your trouble areas are determined you may undergo a series of adjustments to your spine. Spinal adjustments are usually not painful.

You will probably be asked to return for a number of regular visits for continued manipulation. The chiropractor may take additional x-rays to determine the status of your condition. If you are visiting a chiropractor for pain in your back you should stop your treatment as soon as you are feeling better. Repeated chiropractic care has not been shown to be of benefit unless the patient is still having pain.

Many insurance companies are now covering chiropractic visits. Chiropractic care can be an effective tool for relieving back pain without medication just as physical and occupational therapy can be. Be wary of chiropractors that subscribe to the theory of subluxation and those that indicate the need for indefinite repeat visits. Check with your family doctor about the effectiveness of chiropractic treatments for conditions other than mechanical musculoskeletal pain.

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