by Marlaina Donato
Chiropractic medicine is known for its non-surgical approach to chronic pain and other musculoskeletal conditions, but also has much more to offer. However, finding the right doctor can be as daunting as shopping for a comfortable pair of shoes. Here, three reputable practitioners talk about securing individualized care and getting the most out of chiropractic.
Address Specific Needs
Clarifying the desired outcome is helpful, because some clients are just looking for a quick fix to reduce pain, while others may be seeking overall better health, lasting wellness and an improved quality of life.
“Due to insurance issues, we’ve become known as pain doctors, but that’s not the full extent of chiropractic,” says Dr. Michelle Robin, owner of Your Wellness Connection and the educational DrMichelleRobin.com website, in Shawnee, Kansas. “Also, you can see more than one chiropractor, as each has their own strength.”
Dr. Michael Aho, of Crosstown Chiropractic, in Chicago, agrees. “Chiropractic care encompasses many styles, so one of the biggest variables is the type of treatment the doctor uses. Most offices commonly treat neck, mid-back and low back pain.
“If you have a specific shoulder, knee or foot problem, you may want to find a doctor that frequently treats those issues. If you are pregnant, choose a chiropractor that has experience working with pregnant women.”
“There are more than 140 different chiropractic techniques. Some are light touch, while others are aggressive. Some are hands-on and some use instruments for adjusting. It’s important that the doctor’s approach resonates with your nature,” says Dr. Jackie St.Cyr of the Innate Chiropractic Healing Arts Center, in Houston.
Robin advises that sitting in a doctor’s reception room to just observe and trusting our intuition is helpful before moving forward with a consultation.
First, find out if a chiropractor has embraced either a conventional medical or holistic model, and then delve more deeply to find the right approach and level of care. “Ask how long a doctor has practiced and their governing philosophy. Do they treat the full spine or focus on the point of pain, and what range of techniques do they apply? You want them to know your spine before they adjust it; make sure they conduct a new patient exam,” says St.Cyr. An exam may include a thermography scan and X-rays.
Helpful questions include what to expect during the initial visit, recommended frequency of treatment, the desired doctor’s office hours and how treatment might benefit a particular condition. Because most chiropractic offices offer compatible treatments, also ask about complementary modalities such as acupuncture, massage therapy, heat therapy, and interferential current therapy using minute electrical pulses for deep tissue pain relief.
“You shouldn’t expect instant results,” says Aho. “You’ll benefit the most if you don’t wait too long after first experiencing symptoms of a problem before starting treatment, and are consistent with your treatment.” Being proactive can foster good results.
St.Cyr concurs, stating, “When patients follow their chiropractor’s recommended routine of regular corrective care, they get the best results.
Be consistent with visits and do your customized spinal exercises; they’ve been proven to work.”
Robin says that not following through with homecare is a common pitfall for patients. “Like dental care, you always need to do something for your spine every day, be it stretching, other exercise or good nutrition.”
She notes that everyone’s response to chiropractic is different. “Be realistic. If you’ve experienced injuries or accidents, it will take longer, and your healing might look different from that of someone else that is free of injuries and follows a healthier diet. Sometimes people give up on chiropractic instead of finding a chiropractor that is good for them. You wouldn’t give up going to the dentist, and the same should apply to chiropractic care.”
Marlaina Donato is a freelance writer, author and multimedia artist. Connect at MarlainaDonato.com.