Chicago chiropractors give relief to many, pain for some

Chicago chiropractors give relief to many, pain for some

Angie's List member Garry Parks of Buffalo Grove couldn't find relief fast enough after badly straining his back last summer doing yardwork, and decided to visit highly rated chiropractor Ralph Kruse Jr. at Chiropractic Care in Chicago. He got in the same day and hasn't looked back since the first adjustment. "I haven't had any issues all year," Parks says. "I'm like, wow."

Parks' experience mirrors most member reports on Chicago chiropractors, but others say they're frustrated by some who push upfront payments or unnecessary treatments.

Angie's List member Susan Calabria of Elgin says she took out a $3,500 loan - on Lake in the Hills-based chiropractor Alok Trivedi's recommendation - to pay in advance for about 20 visits to adjust vertebrae in her neck. "I thought it was wrong - that you should pay as you go," Calabria says, but adds she was desperate to alleviate pain.

William Lauretti, spokesman for the American Chiropractic Association, advises against paying upfront for a treatment program since it's difficult to predict how many visits a patient will require. But even some highly rated chiropractors offer a discount to pay in advance, and say it's easy to get a refund for unused visits.

Trivedi says he recommends patients pay upfront to alleviate billing surprises; patients also typically get a 5 percent discount. "You know what the exact bill is," he says. Patients may also pay per visit, he says, but it typically costs more.

After Calabria paid in advance and started treatment, her pain only worsened. "I started getting really terrible headaches and neck pain," she says, adding that she had concerns about using a decompression machine due to a plate in her neck from a previous herniation.

Trivedi says he sees many patients with plates and that some pain is normal. But Calabria says the pain became intolerable and she stopped going after 13 visits, giving Trivedi a grade of F, his only report on the List. Trivedi says he's stopped working on patients who failed to show improvement, but he believes Calabria would've improved if she'd continued treatment. Calabria says it took about two months to recoup an $845 refund; Trivedi says six to eight weeks is standard, and adds that most patients see results..

While outcomes and techniques differ, all chiropractors receive training to manipulate joints by hand or instrument to enhance or restore joint function. Illinois requires all chiropractors to be licensed, and they must complete a minimum four-year, full-time graduate program. Insurance coverage varies as does treatment efficacy.

Besides joint manipulation, highly rated chiropractor Richard Ezgur at Progressive Chiropractic Wellness Center in Chicago says his practice offers acupuncture, massage therapy, physical therapy, nutrition and homeopathy. "A lot of my patients tell me they prefer a more holistic and comprehensive approach," he says. One of his patients, Chicago Angie's List member Barb Carr, says Ezgur's treatments help relieve her back pain. "Keeping up with the exercises and getting some adjustments and treatments [including acupuncture] is keeping me on horseback - and that's a passion of mine," she says.

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