Finding a Chiropractor Near You: How to Access Quality Care
If you're dealing with chronic muscle and joint pain, chiropractic care may be a good option. But how do you find the right chiropractor for your body, pain, and lifestyle? This article will help you determine if chiropractic care can help you live a happier, healthier life, and explain how to find the best chiropractor for your needs.
Table of contentsHow Do I Know If a Chiropractor Could Help Me?I Want to Find a Chiropractor: How? Who?I’m Ready to Make a Chiropractic AppointmentTakeaways
How Do I Know If a Chiropractor Could Help Me?
If you experience lower back pain, neck pain, or headaches, a chiropractor could be a good addition to your pain management team (1). Research on chiropractic care is mixed, but surveys indicate high consumer satisfaction (2, 3).
Chiropractors treat pain by manipulating the spine. They usually use their hands to perform adjustments, but may also apply instruments such as activator adjustment tools. Chiropractors can also perform spinal tissue therapy, mobilization techniques, and massages (4, 5, 6).
Chiropractors May Help with Back, Neck, and Head Pain
- Acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain
- Acute and subacute neck pain
- Acute whiplash
- Mid-back pain
- Cervicogenic headache
- Shoulder girdle pain
- Adhesive capsulitis
- Lateral epicondylitis
- Cervicogenic dizziness
- Hip and knee osteoarthritis
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome
- Plantar fasciitis
- Tension headache
- Generalized shoulder pain
Chiropractic Care May Not Be for You If...
Clinical practice guidelines advise patients to consider the following list of conditions and disorders to be “red flags” when it comes to chiropractic care (10). If you have or could have any of the below conditions, be sure to consult your doctor to discuss whether implementations of chiropractic care carry too much potential risk.
- Severe osteoporosis
- Multiple myeloma
- Bone tumors
- Paget’s disease
- Progressive or sudden neurologic deficit
- Spinal cord tumors
- Active or inflamed rheumatoid arthritis
- Inflamed ankylosing spondylitis
- Inflamed psoriatic arthritis
- Reactive arthritis (also known as Reiter’s syndrome)
- Bleeding disorders
- General structural instability
Even if you have one of the above conditions, your doctor may determine that certain types of chiropractic care could be helpful to you. Talk with your doctor before you schedule an appointment with a chiropractor or rule out the possibility.
Scientific evidence around the efficacy of chiropractic care is mixed, but patients generally report satisfaction with their experiences. Joint conditions (e. g. arthritis) increase the risks associated with chiropractic interventions and you should consider the benefits and drawbacks of chiropractic treatment with your doctor.
I Want to Find a Chiropractor: How? Who?
It’s important to find a chiropractor who fits your needs and lifestyle.
- Only consider chiropractors who are properly trained.
- Effective chiropractic care relies upon recurring visits, so geographic proximity to your home or workplace is important.
- Ask some simple but important questions to find a cost-effective option.
The Federation of Chiropractic Licensing boards offers a database of information for determining if a chiropractor in your area is properly licensed, has restrictions on his or her practice, or has been subject to any board actions (11). You may also want to look into your prospective chiropractors’ educational backgrounds and patient reviews. Once you feel confident in the quality of chiropractors you’ve found, then you’re ready to determine which chiropractor’s location is most convenient for you.
Patients often experience the most pain relief after six to ten chiropractic appointments (12). Some chiropractors see patients twice a week at first, then once a week, then progressively less frequently as time goes on (13). Ask chiropractic offices in your area what their hours are so that you can determine the time and distance that will best work.
Not all chiropractors accept private insurance or Medicare/Medicaid. Some will offer payment plans or discount programs while others will have flat fees. These are all questions you’ll want to ask a chiropractic office by phone or online. If you have health insurance, you can also check your insurance company’s website for information about chiropractic coverage and potential providers who would be covered.
A Little Research Goes a Long Way
A simple Google search of “chiropractor + (your area)” or a similar query on your health insurance provider’s website can help you jumpstart your search for a chiropractor. By calling a few chiropractic offices to ask about location, hours, and payment details, you can have the information you need to assess the potential care providers in your area and choose the best option for you.
When choosing a chiropractor, carefully consider cost, convenience, and quality of care. Past patient reviews and basic online research can help you make the right decision.
I’m Ready to Make a Chiropractic Appointment
Once you’ve assessed who the right chiropractor is for you, you’re ready to make a phone call and schedule your first appointment. Some chiropractors may send you paperwork to fill out manually or online before you come into the office. The paperwork will likely ask about medical history, current pain, and other treatments you have tried.
You will most likely not need to do anything physically—other than wear comfortable clothing for lying on a table—to prepare for a chiropractic appointment. Some initial appointments will be purely conversational and diagnostic. Depending on the nature of your pain and potential diagnosis, chiropractor may order or conduct imaging, such as an MRI, an X-ray, or a CT scan (14).
Take the opportunity at your first appointment to ask your chiropractor about their success in treating other patients with pain similar to yours. You may also want to ask how long the chiropractor expects your course of treatment to last () and if there are activities you should undertake (such as stretching) or avoid during your treatment (15, 16).
If your chiropractor performs manual therapy on you at your first appointment, they will likely have you lie face down on a table. The chiropractor will assess your spine with their hands, and may ask you to take a deep breath before they press down on your back. You may hear a popping sound, known as “cavitation”, during the adjustment (17). The chiropractor may also adjust your neck, which will involve touching and moving your head, and your lower back via manipulations as you lie on your side. You should feel free to ask any questions that come to mind during the treatment session.
If you don’t feel comfortable with a provider, don’t be afraid to try another. It’s important that you trust your chiropractor, as this can have a direct impact on your body’s response to the manipulations, your motivation to complete any stretches or exercises assigned to you, and your diligence in keeping future appointments.
Ask lots of questions in your first appointment! Be sure to discuss goals and expectations for the treatment program with your chiropractor, and only commit to a program if you feel completely comfortable with your provider.
The decision to pursue chiropractic treatment can lead to pain relief and a higher quality of life. While chiropractic care can be similar to physical therapy, research is mixed when it comes to the effectiveness of chiropractors. So, talk to your doctor about the idea of adding chiropractic care to your health and wellness plan.
If you do choose to pursue chiropractic care, be sure to research multiple providers, ask about their successes with your specific type of pain, and select a chiropractor who you’ll find yourself wanting to see again.