Chiropractic helps make good connections
Warning signs can tell you who not to trust
Megan Hart, Contributing writer
Many people know that chiropractic medicine involves "cracking" the back and neck in order to adjust the body and provide health benefits.
But a more appropriate definition, according to Timothy J. Feuling in the Chiropractic Journal, a publication of the World Chiropractic Alliance, is that "chiropractic medicine is the health care field dedicated to the detection and correction of vertebral subluxation in order to eliminate nerve interference that can adversely affect health."
Dr. Mike Treichler says that a good spinal alignment is like "a good cell phone connection," allowing the nerves that carry signals from the brain to organs and extremities to send those signals clearly, a process which is interrupted when the spinal vertebrae get pulled out of alignment due to accident or injury. When vertebrae aren't aligned, nerves can also become pinched, a condition chiropractors describe as joint dysfunction, restrictions or subluxations.
"Chiropractic medicine works based on the human nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. Some chiropractors follow only the nervous system path and others subscribe to musculoskeletal system/ nervous system combination," Treichler says.
Chiropractic providers are trained to evaluate, diagnose and treat conditions the same as any healthcare provider, through the use of full patient histories and exams which can include examinations of the orthopedic, neurological and vascular systems. They also do a specialized chiropractic evaluation of spinal or joint movement and posture.
If necessary, the doctor may recommend X-rays or another diagnostic tests to obtain further information to find causes that are treatable by a chiropractor or other problems that the chiropractor may refer you to another, more appropriate healthcare provider.
Doctors of chiropractic must complete an undergraduate degree in core sciences such as chemistry, anatomy, physiology and physics before applying to a chiropractic medical school.
"The ... degree requires a minimum of ten, 15-week trimesters (three years and four months, total) of full-time resident study, including a clinical internship. This is the equivalent of five academic years," Treichler says. Courses required during chiropractic school include anatomy, biochemistry, physiopathology, microbiology and public health, diagnosis, diagnostic imaging and chiropractic philosophy, as well as clinical experience.
Doctors of chiropractic must also pass national board and state exams.
If you want to make sure you go to someone safe and effective for treatment, Treichler suggests asking if the doctor spends time examining patients or if he just gets people in and out fast, like an assembly line?
Patients should also think about if a care plan makes sense. Treichler's approach looks at it weekly to see how patients feel. He says that many conditions have estimated times for recovery, but many people get better more quickly, especially if they follow the advice given to them.
He said that people should be cautious if a doctor tries to sell hundrends of dollars worth of supplements. Another warning sign is a doctor who says she can "cure" a patient of major health issues such as cancer or HIV.
Also, a doctor of chiropractic shouldn't tell you to stop taking major medications without encouraging you to speak to a primary care physician or specialist first or about other options.
You should also find another doctor if yours constantly harasses you for names and numbers of others for chiropractic care or requires you to bring the whole family in to be treated.
Finally, if you don't seem to be getting any better and constantly do the same treatment for more than another month, find another doctor.
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