Is Chiropractic Safe?
Yes, chiropractic treatment is safe and effective. While all forms of healthcare involve a certain amount of inherent risk, there is little danger with chiropractic treatment when administered by a licenced chiropractor. To ensure competency, all Doctors of Chiropractic (or DC's) are required to be board-qualified on a national level, and licensed by state, according to stringent criteria. Chiropractic care is a conservative approach to healthcare, without the use of prescription drugs and surgery, therefore, statistics show that patient risk is substantially lower than the alternative.
Self-adjusting: Is it safe or harmful?
Lots of people click, pop, or adjust their own necks; sometimes for relief, sometimes for dramatic effect, sometime just because they can, often without trying to. But what is the difference between adjusting yourself and a Chiropractor doing it?
The need to click one’s own neck is potentially a sign of an underlying problem. Often the need to do it is down to poor posture putting excess stress on the joints in the cervical spine (neck).
Due to the stresses on the spine, the joints become restricted and uncomfortable. If an on-going problem, it may lead to nerve impingement! When you click your own neck (self manipulating) you are mostly ‘clicking’ either the joint above or below the restricted one that needs to move properly. Chiropractors train over 4-5 years to adjust the right joint in the right way.
This relieves the restricted joint and frees up any trapped nerves.
Is there anything wrong with "popping"/adjusting my own neck?
The danger of doing it yourself is you’re moving the wrong joints. When you self manipulate it may make the same ‘popping’ noise (air being released from the joint) as a Chiropractic adjustment; it might provide some short-term relief, due to the natural release of a pain-relieving chemical called endorphins. But it can cause damage.
When a joint is restricted, the joints above and below work harder to compensate for the lack of movement in the stiff joint. So these joints are moving too much already and when you self adjust you are forcing them to move even further (see picture below)
Over time, this often leads to stretching of the over stretching of the ligaments that support the spine, potentially leading to instability and future joint problems.
So what should I do if I have the habit of clicking or adjusting my own neck?
Chances are you have an underlying problem causing damage to the ligaments of your spine. The first thing is to look at your posture to prevent unnecessary stress on your neck and shoulders. The next thing is to have a full examination with a Chiropractor to assess the movement and function of the individual joints of the spine. The Chiropractor will then be able to recommend stretches, postural advice, and, if necessary, a course of a Chiropractic adjustments to restore the correct movement to the spine.
How much time should I anticipate spending at an appointment?
During your initial office visit, the doctors will typically spend about 30 minutes with you, depending on the severity of the case. They take a thorough medical history, and educating you about chiropractic care and what to expect during a course of treatment. If medically necessary, x-rays may be ordered as well. If x-rays are not necessary, a Physical Examination, including orthopedic and neurological testing will also take place during the first visit.
Follow-up appointments require about 15 minutes or less, again depending on the severity of the case.
Do I have to disrobe during my appointment?
No, you do not have to disrobe during a chiropractic treatment. However, wearing looser fitting clothes, like sweat pants for example, tend to be more comfortable for the patient during a treatment. Patient gowns are also provided, if necessary.
Once I start seeing a chiropractor, do I have to continue the rest of my life?
Your treatment plan from a chiropractor is much like a prescription from your medical doctor when you are sick. It is prescribed for a reason, and that is to help you return to optimal health and function as soon as possible. Sticking to the entire treatment plan (including at home recommendations) or prescription is the BEST way to get your body feeling better, fast.
Once your symptoms improve, both subjectively and objectively, then whether or not you decide to continue care at a wellness level, becomes your choice. Wellness care means that you are taking a proactive, or preventative approach to your healthcare in an effort to remain pain-free, avoid future exacerbations or flare-ups, and maintain optimal health and well-being. Similar to seeing your dentist every six months or so for a check-up and routine cleaning, regardless of the presence of pain, seeing your chiropractor regularly helps you to maintain your spinal hygiene.
*It is important to note, however, that currently most insurance companies deny coverage for "wellness/maintenance care". Therefore, chiropractic treatment becomes an out-of-pocket expense when no longer deemed medically necessary.