Doctors of Chiropractic Medicine (DCs) are healthcare professionals who have completed extensive schooling and ongoing training, including passing four national board exams, as well as a state licensing exam. Chiropractors are not Medical Doctors (MDs) though they study many of the same premedical subjects to earn their certification; they do not prescribe medication or perform surgery, instead specializing in the treatment of neuromuscular disorders and injuries through the use of controlled force.
What does a Chiropractor do?
Chiropractors provide a number of services including comprehensive patient examinations and the pain relieving adjustments they are best known for, but their practices extend far beyond that. Common additional therapies include hot and cold treatments, soft tissue massage, electrical muscle stimulation, prescribed exercise regimens, and dietary counseling.
Do I need a Doctor’s referral to see a Chiropractor?
You do not require a Doctor’s referral to see a Chiropractor, in fact, if you are experiencing joint pain or persistent aches in your neck or back it is recommended that you consult with a Chiropractor right away. However, if your pain levels are severe, consider visiting your regular Doctor anyways as they can provide you with pain relief medication that your Chiropractor cannot.
What will happen at my first appointment?
At your first Chiropractic appointment you will be given paperwork to fill out describing your medical history and explaining the reason for your visit, a more in depth history will later be taken by your Chiropractor detailing your regular activities and anything that may be relevant to your injury. You will then receive a comprehensive full body exam, including orthopedic tests and evaluating your active range of motion. Your Chiropractor may request x-rays based on your initial exam which will allow them more insight into your problem, enabling them to diagnose the issue and move forward with treatment if appropriate. If there are no concerns that prevent them from doing so, you may receive your first or multiple adjustments at this appointment.
What happens during an adjustment?
There are several types of adjustments though most involve similar techniques, if you have questions specific to your treatment, you should ask your Chiropractor before you begin. A typical adjustment will take around 10 minutes and involve your Chiropractor using their hands to apply short but firm bursts of pressure to the affected or referring area of your body. You will likely hear a popping or crunching sound immediately following the application of pressure, this is not cause for alarm, and is actually a sign that the treatment is working. The noise is created by joint cavitation, which is gas being released between your joints and relieving pressure, it is the same thing that happens when you crack your knuckles. After the adjustment, many patients feel an immediate relief.
Is getting an adjustment painful?
Adjustments are not typically painful, however first time patients may experience some slight muscle aches in the day following their treatment, as spasmed muscles return to their natural relaxed state. Warm baths and gentle stretching can help alleviate this ache.