Have you ever wondered, “should I see a chiropractor?” or, “why a chiropractor and not someone else?” From my biased perspective the answer is obviously “yes, if you want to get better, see a chiropractor!!” However, there is always some self-management one can try at home before booking an appointment. Try to do some stretching (here’s some low back stretches , or neck stretches ) for some temporary relief. Perhaps applying heat or ice to the sore area, taking it easy and not stressing the area with vigorous exercise or work, or even over-the-counter medication can all be tried. If and when this fails, the next step becomes asking around for who to see for their backache, or searching on Google for a good chiropractor. Chiropractors all work a little (some a lot) differently, so no two are exactly the same in their techniques. Some will only work on the upper neck believing all problems stem from there, others will only use a spring-loaded instrument to make their spine adjustment, others adjust the problem-area by hand and then work on the muscles as well, either by hand or with a stainless steel tool. Yet still others will only put you on a spinal decompression table and let it do the work. The key is finding what works for you and not giving up if after seeing one you have poor results. Not all dentists, lawyers, or medical doctors are the same, and chiropractors are no different. In your search you basically want someone who will have pursued post-graduate education on a regular basis and works with all age ranges of people; this ought to ensure you find someone well-rounded and up-to-date. Chiropractors who have worked at high-profile events with elite level athletes can generally be trusted to practice in an evidence-based and patient-centred manner because it takes that to be involved in the athletic world. Any kind of controversial or un-tested methods would not be accepted where million dollar athlete’s careers hang in the balance.
A competent chiropractic doctor will have you fill-out forms detailing your medical history and then go over it with you and ask questions to round it out to get an idea what is going-on. Next you will be given a physical, orthopedic and neurologic exam to try and mesh together the history with the exam findings to find the exact cause of your discomfort and determine the best back pain treatment for you. Finally is the treatment plan, whose goal is to get you back to “pre-injury status.” The treatment plan will vary depending upon several factors, but generally speaking, you should be at least 50% improved after four weeks of care (if it takes that long). An ethical chiropractor will not hesitate to refer you to someone else if they feel they could be of more help, nor will they discourage you from seeing other health practitioners. Much controversy exists within the profession for duration of care with some recommending a long treatment program after just seeing you for one or two visits. There is essentially no evidence for this and for this reason I work mostly on a visit-by-visit basis in determining how long you will need care for. I have also seen patients who already have a chiropractor they see periodically and they ask if they can return to me, my response is that their health choices are always their decision and I would be happy to help them as frequently, or in-frequently, as they’d like. Patient confidentiality ensures that not only is it unethical to discuss who we treat in our offices, but it is also the law, so there should never be any fear that it will be awkward for them to return to who they had seen previously.
So to sum, should you see a chiropractor? If you want a proper diagnosis of what is occurring, home-care is not helping, you want to use a scientifically-valid therapy and you want to feel better ASAP, then the answer is yes!