Frequently Asked Questions about Chiropractic
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) receives many questions about
chiropractic. Below are their answers to the most commonly asked questions.
Q: What conditions do chiropractors treat?
Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders
of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the
effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is
used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including
but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the
arms or legs, and headaches.
chiropractic treatment require a referral from an MD?
No, a patient does not need referral by an MD before visiting a
doctor of chiropractic. Chiropractors are first contact physicians,
and are so defined in federal and state regulations. Following a
consultation and examination, the doctor of chiropractic will arrive
at a diagnosis under chiropractic care, or refer the patient to the
appropriate health care provider. Dr. Boylan has received many
referrals from medical physicians over the years.
chiropractic treatment safe?
Yes, chiropractic treatment is safe and effective. While any form of
health treatment contains a degree of inherent risk, there is little
danger in chiropractic care when administered by a licensed
practitioner. To assure competency, all states require that DCs be
board-qualified, licensed, and regulated according to stringent
criteria. Statistics show that patient risk is substantially lower
in chiropractic as opposed to medical care, where the use of
prescription drugs and surgery pose a greater risk.
chiropractic treatment appropriate for children?
A: Yes, children can benefit from chiropractic care. Children
are very physically active and experience many types of falls and
blows from activities of daily living as well as from participating
in sports. Injuries such as these may cause many symptoms including
back and neck pain, stiffness, soreness or discomfort. Chiropractic
care is always adapted to the individual patient. It is a highly
skilled treatment, and in the case of children, very gentle.
chiropractors allowed to practice in hospitals or use medical
A: Chiropractors are being recognized to admit and treat
patients in hospitals and to use outpatient clinical facilities
(such as labs, x-rays, etc.) for their non-hospitalized patients.
Hospital privileges were first granted in 1983. But, Chiropractic
care is mostly outpatient facility provided.
insurance plans cover chiropractic?
A: The majority of all insured American workers have coverage
for chiropractic services in their health care plans. For example,
the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management offers
chiropractic coverage for federal employees in both the Mail
Handlers and BCBS benefit plans. In addition, there is a
chiropractic benefit in Federal Workers’ Compensation, and
chiropractic care is available to members of the armed forces at
more than 40 military bases, and is available at nearly 30 veterans’
Q: What type
of education and training do chiropractors have?
A: Chiropractors are educated as primary contact health care
practitioners, with an emphasis on musculoskeletal diagnosis and
treatment. Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are
among the most stringent of any of the health care professions. The
typical applicant at a chiropractic college has already acquired
nearly four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education,
including courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry,
physics, psychology and related lab work. Once accepted into an
accredited chiropractic college, the requirements become even more
demanding — four to five academic years of professional study are
the standard. Because of the hands-on nature of chiropractic, and
the intricate adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is
spent in clinical training. In total, the chiropractic curriculum
includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and
clinical experience. The course of study is approved by an
accrediting agency that is fully recognized by the U.S. Department
Q: How is a
chiropractic adjustment performed?
A: Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is a manual
procedure that utilizes the highly refined skills developed during
the intensive years of chiropractic education. The chiropractic
physician typically uses his/her hands to manipulate the joints of
the body, particularly the spine, in order to reduce pain, and
restore or enhance joint function. Chiropractic manipulation is a
highly controlled procedure that rarely causes discomfort. The
chiropractor adapts the procedure to meet the specific needs of each
patient. Patients often note positive changes in their symptoms
immediately following treatment.
chiropractic treatment ongoing?
A: The hands-on nature of the chiropractic treatment is
essentially what requires patients to visit the specialist a number
of times. To be treated by a chiropractic physician, a patient needs
to be in his or her office. In contrast, a course of treatment from
medical doctors often involves a pre-established plan that is
conducted at home (i.e. taking a course of antibiotics once a day
for a couple of weeks). A chiropractor may provide acute, chronic,
and/or preventive care thus making a certain number of visits
sometimes necessary. Your doctor of chiropractic should tell you the
extent of treatment recommended and how long you can expect it to
Q: Why is
there a popping sound when a joint is adjusted?
A: Adjustment of a joint may result in release of a gas bubble
between the joints that makes a popping sound – it’s exactly the
same as when you “crack” your knuckles. The noise is caused by the
change of pressure within the joint that results in gas bubbles
being released. There is typically no pain involved.
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