How Do You Find A Good Chiropractor?
The ultimate guide to finding a chiropractor!
If you’re suffering from back pain, neck pain, or headaches, a good chiropractor can provide much-needed relief. The thousands of patients we’ve seen at our chiropractic clinic in Brookfield can tell you that there’s no doubt that chiropractic works. And when it’s done right, research has shown it’s hands-down the most effective treatment for musculoskeletal back and neck conditions.
But how do you find a good chiropractor?
Let’s be straight: not all chiropractors are equal. In the world of healthcare, there’s likely no other profession with such a vast discrepancy between one doctor and the next as there is in chiropractic. And like many of our patients at Ascent Chiropractic in Brookfield know firsthand, the results they get can vary just as much as the techniques they use.
Trust me, it frustrates me even more than it does my patients.
I recently had a patient – who lives several states away but was visiting family in Milwaukee for a month – referred into our office with chronic debilitating low back pain. After two weeks of care her pain was significantly improved. After a month she was moving better and experiencing less pain than she had in a decade.
When it came time for her to fly back home, we both agreed she needed a chiropractor in her hometown who she could see for ongoing maintenance care. She made appointments at three different local chiropractors that, to make a long story short, eventually culminated in this text message:
Sure, it’s flattering, but it’s also maddening that she has to fly 1,500 miles when she tweaks her back because she can’t find a local chiropractor near her who can get her out of pain.
So with so many chiropractors out there, here are the questions it seems everyone has a hard time answering: How do you know which one’s actually going to get you relief? What should you look for when choosing a chiropractor? And how can you tell if they’re qualified, experienced, and trustworthy?
What is Chiropractic Care and How Does It Work?
Before we dive into how to find a good chiropractor, let’s first explain what chiropractic care is and how it works.
Chiropractic is a field of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine. Chiropractors use hands-on treatment to manipulate specific joints of the spine or other parts of the body.
At Brookfield chiropractor Ascent Chiropractic, we go a step further by combining chiropractic adjustments with myofascial release techniques and soft tissue therapy – and there’s good reason for that.
Truly fixing a musculoskeletal problem is a two-part process: restoring proper motion to joint(s) and restoring the support of the muscle and soft tissues surrounding those joints. If you’re only focusing on the joint motion, neglecting the muscles, ligaments, and soft tissues that control and support the joint, you’re essentially chasing your own tail. You’ll never achieve long-term stability, no matter how much you try.
On the other hand, soft tissue rehab is essential. Tight muscles and ligaments need to be stretched, while weak and lengthened muscles need strengthening. But again, don’t think for a moment that muscle and soft tissue work alone will cut it. If you’re not addressing the root cause of the problem – the joint dysfunction – you’ll be dealing with low-level chronic joint inflammation forever.
The ultimate goal of chiropractic care is to restore normal joint, muscle, and ligament function, reduce nerve irritation and inflammation, and improve the communication between the brain and the body. It’s based on the principle that the body has an innate ability to heal itself when it’s working without interference.
What are the Benefits of Chiropractic Care?
So what are the benefits to seeing a chiropractor?
Pain relief without drugs or surgery
Chiropractic can address the root cause of your pain without medications or surgery. It can also reduce inflammation, muscle spasms, and nerve compression that can contribute to pain.
A 2013 study from Spine journal found that 43% of low back pain patients who saw a surgeon as their first point of contact had surgery within 3 years. In contrast, of those who saw a chiropractor first, only 1.5% needed surgery. The bottom line: seeing a chiropractor first for a back complaint hugely reduces the likelihood that you’ll eventually end up in surgery.
While most research is focused on chiropractic care’s effectiveness for back and neck pain, they’re not the only conditions chiropractors can help. The 2010 UK Evidence Report found sufficient data to recommend chiropractic care for all of the conditions listed below.
- Acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain
- Migraine headaches
- Tension headaches
- Acute and subacute neck pain
- Whiplash injuries
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Hip and knee osteoarthritis
- Ankle sprains
- Plantar fasciitis
- TMJ disorders (jaw pain)
Better joint function and mobility
Chiropractic care has also been shown to improve range of motion and flexibility, allowing you to perform better in your daily activities, hobbies, sports, and work.
Better mood and mental health
Chiropractic care can reduce stress hormones and stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood boosters. It can also help balance your nervous system, which can have a positive effect your emotions, cognition, memory, and sleep.
A better use of your healthcare dollars
Chiropractic care can be more cost-effective than conventional medicine in the long run, helping you avoid expensive drugs, surgeries, hospitalizations, and complications. A study by Oakland University of nearly 400 thousand people with back or neck pain compared the health care costs of patients who received chiropractic treatment to those treated solely by medical physicians. The results showed that patients receiving chiropractic care experienced significantly lower health care costs. Chiropractic patients saved an average of over $1000 out-of-pocket costs per patient over the two-year study.
A separate review of over 2,000,000 chiropractic patients by the Journal of American Health Policy concluded that “chiropractic users tend to have substantially lower total health care costs,” and “chiropractic care reduces the use of both physician and hospital care.”
How to Find a Good Chiropractor: 6 Steps
Now that you know what chiropractic care is and how it can benefit you, here’s how you can find a good chiropractor.
Step 1: Ask for Recommendations
One of the best ways to find a good chiropractor is to ask for referrals from people you trust. This could be your family, friends, or your primary care physician. Ask them about their experiences with chiropractors in the area and if they would recommend anyone in particular.
Your other healthcare providers may also have a network of reputable chiropractors that they work with or know.
As a Brookfield chiropractor I work with an extensive network of medical doctors, osteopaths, physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons nearly every day in the co-management of my patients. They refer to us because we get long-term results and help their patients reduce reliance on medication and avoid invasive surgical procedures.
Failing that, use the Forward Thinking Chiropractic Alliance provider search tool. Being an FTCA member is usually a good sign that a chiropractor approaches their practice in an evidence-based, patient-first way. However, being listed in their directory is simply a membership and doesn’t require anything concrete – but it’s not a bad place to start if you don’t have a recommendation from someone you trust.
Step 2: Check Online Reviews
In addition to asking for referrals, it’s also a good idea to check online reviews in your search for a chiropractor. Websites like Google and HealthGrades can provide you with valuable information about a chiropractor’s reputation and quality of care. Look for chiropractors with high ratings and positive reviews from patients.
Step 3: Call Or Meet With The Doctor
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential chiropractors, it’s a good idea to call or schedule a consultation to meet with them before your first appointment. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions and get a sense of their personality and approach to treatment. Ask about their experience, education, and any specialized training they may have. Use this time to evaluate whether the chiropractor is a good fit for you.
Step 4: Ask About Techniques
Chiropractors use a variety of chiropractic techniques and soft tissue therapies to treat their patients. Ask the chiropractor about the techniques they use to treat their patients and how they can benefit your specific condition.
Step 5: Check On Insurance Coverage
Before you start treatment with a new chiropractor, make sure to check if they accept your insurance and what your out-of-pocket costs may be.
Step 6: Ask About Treatment Plans
A good chiropractor will create a personalized treatment plan for you based on your specific needs and goals. Avoid chiropractors pushing a one-size-fits-all treatment. Your chiropractor should be your teammate, and work with you to specifically address what’s going on in your body. They should be able to provide you with a clear, individualized, and realistic plan of treatment that’s centered around restoring function and reducing pain.
Step 7: Trust Your Instincts
Ultimately, the best way to find a good chiropractor is to trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable with a particular chiropractor or treatment plan, don’t hesitate to seek out a second opinion.
One final note: even though it’s frustrating to have to wait when you’re in pain, it’s generally a good sign if a chiropractor doesn’t have immediate availability for new patients. One of my patient’s daughters recently (hilariously) explained why my schedule at Ascent Chiropractic is always so busy:
Here are a few red flags to look out for when choosing a chiropractor:
- Promising a cure for non-neuromusculoskeletal conditions: Chiropractic care can be incredibly effective for a wide range of problems, but it’s not a cure-all. There is NO evidence to support that chiropractic care can cure ADHD, cancer, diabetes, or other internal medical disorders. Avoid chiropractors that claim that they can directly treat these issues.
- Pushing long-term contracts: If a chiropractor pressures you to sign a long-term treatment contract or tries to hard sell you a large package of visits upfront, walk back out the door. While some conditions may require ongoing treatment, this should be discussed with you on a case-by-case basis and treatment frequency should be frequently re-evaluated as your condition improves.
- Lack of clear communication: A good chiropractor should be able to communicate clearly and effectively with you about your condition and treatment plan. If you feel like your chiropractor is not listening to your concerns or is not explaining things clearly, it’s a good indicator you should keep searching.
- Pushing unnecessary supplements or products: If a chiropractor tries to sell you unnecessary supplements or products, it’s a definite red flag. While some supplements may be helpful for certain conditions, a chiropractor shouldn’t be pushing these products on you unless they are specifically relevant to your treatment plan.
The Bottom Line
Finding the right chiropractor might seem like a challenging task, but doing your research, asking for recommendations, and trusting your instincts will put you on the right path.
Looking for a chiropractor in the Milwaukee area? We’d love for you to find out why both the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Milwaukee Shepherd Express named us their top Milwaukee chiropractor of 2022. To get started, make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic by calling 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.