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What Do Chiropractors Do?

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Your back is one of the most important parts of your body, but many people don’t pay it much attention until something goes wrong. Since back pain is often debilitating and can negatively impact all aspects of your life, it’s critical to seek out a health care professional who can correctly diagnose and treat the condition. That’s where chiropractors come in.

What is a chiropractor?

Chiropractors work to treat mechanical disorders of the spine and other areas of the back through spinal adjustment. Their treatment method emphasizes manual therapy—the use of their hands as an alternative to drugs or surgery. If your condition requires surgery, that’ll generally be an orthopedic surgeon’s domain instead of a chiropractor’s.

Different chiropractic philosophies

There are two primary schools of thought in chiropractic treatment that you’ll want to take into account when choosing who to go to.

  • Chiropractors who focus entirely on spinal manipulation and the treatment of symptoms that are present right now. In some cases, this can involve something as relatively simple as consistent massage treatments rather than outright spinal manipulation. 
  • Chiropractors who focus on the traditional method of the practice; they emphasize correcting misalignments in the spine instead of the direct symptoms you’re feeling and believe spinal misalignment is related to your entire health.

Your referral to a chiropractor

Your primary care physician (PCP) is in charge of your everyday care, but there are inevitably some conditions you need a specialist for. When you first come to your PCP with back pain, he or she may decide to refer you to a chiropractor for you to receive proper treatment.

One of the most important things to do at this stage is to research the chiropractor you’re being referred to. The American Chiropractic Association maintains an updated listing of certified chiropractors across the country. Chiropractors must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree from an accredited school, which is a four-year program that emphasizes anatomy and spinal health within the context of chiropractic treatment. You can check whether your chiropractor’s school is accredited by visiting the Council on Chiropractic Education.

Asking the right questions

In order to know whether the chiropractor you’re seeing is right for you, consider asking him or her some of the following questions:

  • Do you perform x-rays?

Before initiating standard chiropractic treatment, it’s important to confirm that you don’t have some other condition that could be causing your discomfort—and might even require a different kind of treatment entirely.

  • How much will insurance cover?

Since the cost of treatment is likely to be a point of concern, it’s best to get this out of the way. Once you know what your treatment might cost you, you can begin budgeting around it in the way that’s best for you.

  • What is your treatment philosophy?

As stated, different chiropractors approach this matter in different ways. The important thing to learn is whether the chiropractor you’re seeing takes an approach that’s based on scientific evidence and is willing to provide that evidence on request.

  • How long will treatment last?

Will you be seeing this person for the next year or just a few weeks? How many times per week? You have your own schedule to keep after all, so this is an important issue to clarify.

Reasons to see a chiropractor

Chiropractors primarily deal with spinal health, but there are other health issues that are either directly or indirectly related to a chiropractor’s line of work. In addition to expected issues like back pain, people often see chiropractors when they’ve been experiencing…



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Xavier Galindo

freelance healthcare copywriter
& content marketing strategist