Is a chiropractor a REAL doctor? YES!! A chiropractor is indeed a REAL doctor, investing slightly more hours of study than a medical school student. The official degree for a chiropractor is a D.C. degree, or Doctor of Chiropractic degree.
To become a Doctor of Chiropractic, a prospective student must be accepted to an accredited school of chiropractic, just as he or she would have to be accepted to an accredited medical school. Most chiropractic students are required to have a Bachelor's degree for admission to chiropractic school. Once admitted to chiropractic school, the student must study most of the same courses required in medical school; the main exception is that medical school students study more pharmacology (the science of drugs) while chiropractic students study more anatomy. Chiropractic school is typically 3.5 - 4 years long. To obtain a professional license to practice in the United States, chiropractic students must also take and pass four separate national board certification exams. In addition, some states require an exam especially designed for that particular state.
On your very first visit, the doctor will obtain your history, including your personal, occupational and medical information. The doctor will then go over what has brought you to the office, listening and taking notes. After that, you will undergo a postural analysis, ranges of motion tests and several orthopedic and chiropractic exams. Additional tests may be given to you for a specific suspected condition. X-rays or other advanced imaging may be indicated for you. The doctor will sit down with you and explain the results of all tests and exams, and then he or she will determine if you can benefit from chiropractic care. If so, your doctor will explain how chiropractic care can help you and will tell you what you can expect from your care.
A chiropractic adjustment is a carefully applied, gentle force that moves a bone or bones within a joint that the doctor has assessed and determined to be misaligned. The adjustment moves the bone or bones back into proper alignment. It takes skillful knowledge, precision and accurate application of force to properly perform an adjustment.
When a bone or bones become misaligned, the surrounding soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons, etc.) become accustomed and accommodate to the misaligned position. Even though the misaligned bone or bones have been put back into alignment, the soft tissues that surround the area will tend to pull the bone(s) back into misalignment, because the soft tissues have remained adapted to the misalignment and not yet adapted to the proper alignment. The soft tissues have to be "re-trained" to accept the proper bone alignment, and this is done by adjusting the area until the soft tissues have adapted to the proper alignment of the bone(s).
Although extensive research has been done to answer this question, it is not fully known or understood why this happens. The most common belief is that the gases trapped inside the surrounding ligaments are released with a popping sound when the nearby bone is adjusted. The absence of a popping sound does not mean that a bone has not been adjusted; some adjustments on some patients cause no sound at all, although the bone or bones have been moved.
An adjustment is meant to be a gentle, yet skillfully applied force to correct a bone misalignment, and it should not be painful. The patient may feel a pressure, but most patients experience a sense of instant relief when the adjustment is delivered.
Different chiropractic techniques use different methods and tools. The most commonly used adjustment tools are the doctor's hands. This is called manual adjusting. Sometimes, a doctor will use a special table with movable parts that assist in the adjustment's ease and effectiveness. Other doctors use an adjusting tool that is hand-held by the doctor and that can move one specific bone in a specific direction with very minimal force. Your doctor will explain what he or she uses to adjust with and will certainly consider your particular needs, progress and feedback with any adjustment technique or tool.
There are basically 3 reactions to a chiropractic adjustment. One is that you will feel great, energized, and almost euphoric. Another is that you will feel no differently at all. The third reaction is that you will feel some soreness in the area or areas that were adjusted. Another common reaction is that you will feel sleepy. Chiropractic adjustments, in most people, release endorphins, which are chemicals that the body releases into the blood to make you feel good. It is normal to feel sleepy after an adjustment, as it is your body's way of telling you that your inner healing power has been released and the body needs rest to properly take care of the healing process. It is also normal to feel some soreness in your adjusted areas as the soft tissues become adapted to the proper alignment of the nearby bones. Any sharp pains following an adjustment should be immediately reported to your doctor.
Sometimes, people think that when they pop their neck or back or fingers, this is an adjustment. This is not true. With very few exceptions, it is almost impossible to adjust yourself. Even chiropractors themselves go to other chiropractors for their adjustments. It is also not a good idea to get a friend or relative to jump up and down on your sore back or to twist your aching neck in an attempt to find relief. Chiropractors have been intensely and extensively trained in proper chiropractic assessment and technique. You wouldn't allow your hair stylist to work on your teeth, would you?
This is a very common concern and has a mixed answer. On your first visit to your chiropractor, you will be examined and assessed. The doctor will explain to you the care plan that he or she has determined will best work for you. If your condition is very painful and interferes with your quality of everyday life, you will most likely be advised to see your chiropractor several times a week until you are out of pain and better able to function. THIS TAKES TIME!! The longer you have had a painful condition, the longer it will usually take to resolve it. Also, every human being has different rates of healing and response to care. A good chiropractic doctor will do what is best FOR YOU. Just as you would carefully follow the advice of a heart surgeon, you should listen to and work with your chiropractor to get and stay well. How many times in your life have you been to your dentist? You go every six months to have a checkup for your teeth. If you are having problems, you will see your dentist more often. The same concerns should be addressed for your spine. In fact, you can live without teeth. You cannot live without a spine.
Extensive research into pain and causes of pain show that pain is often the last symptom that a person experiences when something is wrong. It is a big red flag that there is a problem and serves to get your attention focused on the problem area so that you will have it taken care of soon. Conversely, pain is often the first symptom to go away when chiropractic care is given. Because of this, most people believe they are "cured" or "healed" and no longer seek care when they are out of pain. Unfortunately, only the pain symptom has disappeared. The CAUSE of the problem may still be present and needs to be addressed because it can make the same problem appear again, and you will feel pain again, as a result. For example, if you were sitting at home and your fire alarm went off, would you simply get up, turn off the fire alarm, and go sit back down? NO, not if you care about your home, your loved ones and your life!! You would investigate and deal with the CAUSE of the problem before doing anything else. It is the same with pain. Work with your chiropractor to figure out what the CAUSE of your pain is, and help your doctor to address it so that your healing can be complete. It is the same as when your medical doctors advises you to take an antibiotic for the full 10-day course of treatment, even if you feel better before the treatment course is complete, chiropractors advise their patients to continue their care until assessments and tests show that the body has effectively healed.
Chiropractors can have specialties just like some medical doctors do. Some chiropractors focus on treating professional athletes, some focus on treating babies and young children, families or certain types of problems such as a reversed curvature in the neck, whiplash or migraine headaches. Chiropractors are taught many basic techniques that can be applied to most patients' problems, and some chiropractors also adjust special areas such as extremities (shoulders, feet, hands, knees, ankles and feet). Interestingly enough, chiropractors can also adjust parts of the body such as the jaw (for TMJ relief) and the sinuses (for relief of congestion). There are chiropractors that can help a woman to become more fertile so that she can get pregnant and others that can use a "Webster technique" to help turn an unborn baby into proper position for being born. Chiropractors can also help with children who have been diagnosed with scoliosis. There are many conditions that chiropractors can help with, and they do it without drugs, needles or surgery!
The quick and simple answer to this question is, "Anybody with a spine can see a chiropractor." However, your reasons for seeing a chiropractor should go deeper than that. Perhaps you want healthcare for yourself and your family that does not use invasive or sometimes unsafe methods, such as drugs with adverse side effects or surgery that does not always work the way it is supposed to or has high risks. Chiropractic delivers healthcare that is proven to be safe, non-invasive and effective for many conditions. You also do not need to be referred to a chiropractor. Chiropractors are primary health care providers, which means that anybody can go see a chiropractor if they so wish; they do not need to have a referral from a medical doctor to do so (as is the case with a physical therapist).
Of course! There are many, many patients that have more than one doctor that co-manage their condition, such as cancer patients. For example, an oncologist (cancer specialist) takes care of a patient's cancer treatment, while a chiropractor can help the same patient find drug-free pain relief and enable the spine to be properly aligned so that the medications the patient must take can work more effectively.
It depends upon the medication. For example, there are certain blood thinners that thin the blood too much for the patient to be adjusted with certain chiropractic techniques. It is important for you to provide your chiropractor with a complete list of all your medications so that your doctor can decide upon the best course of chiropractic adjustment for you.
NO!! A conscientious chiropractor will never tell you to stop taking medication that your medical doctor has prescribed for you. While it is your chiropractor's hope and goal that your chiropractic care will result in you being taken off your medication by your medical doctor, only you and your medical doctor together can make the determination for you to stop taking prescribed medication.
Donna Bowie Goodwin, D.C.
As human beings, we all have a Divine right to enjoy good health. Our bodies have an Innate ability to adapt and to heal. Chiropractors enable that healing to occur naturally and without harmful drugs or surgery. I truly love it when patients get better very quickly under my care.
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