When should I see my chiropractor?

Women at chiropractor appointment

About 22 million Americans visit chiropractors annually. Of these, 7.7 million, or 35%, are seeking relief from back pain from various causes, including accidents, sports injuries, and muscle strains1. Chiropractic care is a great way to address these issues.

There are many different treatment options for joint and muscle injuries. Chiropractic is just one of them and if often a very effective option. But when is it appropriate for you to see a chiropractor? Well, the answer to that question depends on you. For example, what is the nature of your injury? How long have you had it? What other treatments have you tried? These are all questions ask yourself before seeing a chiropractor but as a general guideline, here are a few things to think about.

What are the benefits of chiropractic care?

There are many benefits provided by chiropractic care. A chiropractor’s overall goal is to help ease your discomfort and pain and help you recover from injury. Your body is capable of a lot, including healing. Chiropractors work to create an environment where the body is best able to recover.

Not only can chiropractic care reduce pain and discomfort, but it can also help improve posture and prevent further musculoskeletal problems.

How long have you had your injury for?

When it comes to things like spinal pain, the sooner you see a chiropractor, the better. Chiropractors have the best chance of success with acute problems. This means injuries that have happened within the past few weeks. In general, chiropractic care is often beneficial for acute pain (pain you’ve had for 1-2 weeks).

When it comes to chronic pain, chiropractic care can also be beneficial but you still may need additional treatments.

Can a chiropractor treat your injury?

Chiropractic care is generally considered a safe, effective treatment for acute low back pain and some of the following conditions1:

  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Ear infections
  • Neurological conditions
  • Sciatica
  • Scoliosis

However, people with the medical conditions below should not see a chiropractor before meeting with their physician because spinal manipulation may have consequences1:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Spinal chord compression
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • People who take blood-thinning medications
  • Cancer – patients with a history of cancer should first obtain clearance from their medical doctor before undergoing spinal manipulation.

To find out if you’re an appropriate candidate for chiropractic care, your first step should be to have a brief consultation with a chiropractor. The chiropractor will take a medical history, carry out a brief exam, and possibly have some imaging tests done. Following that, they’ll be able to assess whether it’s appropriate for you to receive care from them.

Are you looking for a medication-free treatment alternative?

Chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments to help manage patients injuries. The theory is that proper alignment of the body’s musculoskeletal structure, (particularly the spine) will enable the body to heal itself without surgery or medication1.

Seeing a chiropractor does not mean that you have to stop taking pain medications. Many people do both. However, some people specifically seek out a chiropractor as an exclusive means of avoiding pills.

Have you checked with your doctor?

You usually don’t need a doctors referral to see a chiropractor but speaking to one beforehand is a really good idea. To be safe, always check with your medical doctor to make sure your condition will benefit from chiropractic or other pain relief alternatives1.

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1- WebMD. Chiropractic Care for Back Pain. Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on January 22, 2015. http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/chiropractic-pain-relief#1

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