What does a chiropractor do?

A chiropractor deals with the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, which comprise bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons.

A chiropractic doctor will work with patients of all ages, including infants and the elderly. He or she can also see pregnant women, but always check with your primary care physician first before receiving treatment.

Chiropractic doctors can also specialize in specific areas such as neurology, sports medicine, pediatrics, nutrition and rehabilitation. Chiropractic doctors receive extensive training, including eight years of higher education. Chiropractic colleges generally offer four years of specialized training.

Chiropractors can work in their own office or with others as part of a group practice.

Many people confuse chiropractors with massage therapists. Whereas a chiropractor deals with the hard tissues in your spine and manipulates your skeletal structure, a massage therapist works with the soft tissues in your back to achieve pain relief.

What to expect from a chiropractor

A chiropractor can use various techniques to help you deal with back and neck pain, including spinal manipulation and lifestyle counseling in order to take care of the entire body. Chiropractors do not perform surgery; instead, they align your vertebrae to release pressure that has built up on your nerves.

It is this pressure that causes problems.

The chiropractic doctor will manipulate the vertebrae in your back to help your nervous system communicate properly with your brain. While manipulating your vertebrae and muscles, you might hear a crack, which is believed to come from the release of the pressure between two vertebrae.

Not every chiropractor will use the same techniques to achieve results as chiropracty employs a variety of techniques.

The use of the hands is the primary method of treatment, but some practitioners may use new technology, including ultrasound machines, in their treatments.

When visiting an office of this type, be prepared for a medical visit. You'll give your medical history and undergo a physical exam and possibly some tests.

How to find the right chiropractor

Don't take the task of finding a chiropractic doctor lightly. You'll want to find the right person and treatment for you. If traditional medical treatments fail to relieve your pain, you might consider a chiropractic doctor as an option. First, ask your primary care physician for a recommendation. Next, you should investigate whether your insurance carrier covers chiropracty.

Chiropractic care is included in most health insurance plans, including major medical plans, workers’ compensation, Medicare, some Medicaid plans, and Blue Cross Blue Shield plans for federal employees, among others, according to the American Chiropractic Association.

Check out Angie's List for a list of member-rated and reviewed chiropractors in your area in addition to licensing and insurance information.

Once you find a chiropractic doctor, it's important to be happy with the treatment he or she provides. Not every specialist is right for everyone, and different chiropractors will use different methods and techniques.

If the treatment isn't working, you have the right to look for treatment elsewhere. In the end, you need to be happy with the results.

You also need to be willing to follow the treatment plan in full if it is working. Working with any doctor, traditional or chiropractic, is a partnership. You are working with this person to take care of your body.

The treatment in office is only one part of the process. If medications are prescribed or lifestyle modifications recommended, your responsibility as a patient is to follow through.

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