I have treated many people over the years who had been to other chiropractors and would have to go back for weekly treatments for months on end sometimes the treatment would be so ineffective & symptomatic they would have to go back multiple times a week! When ever I ask them why they kept going, the answer is always the same. They thought it was normal based the information described below and the chiropractor seemed like a really nice and kind person. That’s no different to getting a plumber to fix a simple leak and then have them come back every week for months to keep fixing their own shoddy work because they seemed nice and then getting charged a small fortune for it! It’s not uncommon for me to resolve someone’s pain and tension in only a few treatments despite getting treatment somewhere else for months.
By keeping the things listed below in mind when looking for a chiropractor hopefully you get a chiropractor that genuinely wants to help you. So you can experience the benefits of chiropractic without all the pseudoscience and scams.
Payment Upfront & “Corrective Care Plans”
Upfront payment plans and long term ”corrective care plans” seem to be business plans more than anything else. They often require multiple visits a week for months on end, a car salesy pitch is often used where excessive treatments are paid for upfront at a “reduced rate”. Ultimately they would be hundreds of dollars worse off by getting a years worth of symptomatic treatment in only a couple of months. A years worth of health fund is also used very quickly so they end up paying more out of pocket.
A treatment plan is different and usually involves an accurate and evidence-based diagnosis and prognosis, educating the patient especially on how to avoid or modify aggravating factors. I typically only need to see you 2 or 3 times over a 3-4 week period, as you move into more of a self-management/active care situation and getting treatment as needed. Reassurance and empowering the back pain sufferer is vital for best outcomes.
X-Rays & Scare Tactics
If you’re told you need x-rays, run and don’t look back! There are decades of research showing the vast majority of things found on x-rays have nothing to do with pain and are more just age related ‘wear and tear’, you can take x-rays of people who don’t have back pain vs with back pain and they will be almost identical. Often, x-rays are taken on the first visit (some will even have measurements/lines for greater effect), the patient is told they have a scoliosis, the hip is out by a certain amount of millimeters, their spine has arthritis and/or lost the curve in the neck.
Pain can be confusing at the best of times, to then tell someone who may be feeling a bit anxious or worried about their back pain that it is a result of their spine being broken, out of alignment or degenerated usually serves one purpose, to create more fear and vulnerability so the patient becomes dependent on treatment and much more likely to sign up for a corrective care or payment up front plans. Most people would be hesitant in paying money for a 10 minute treatment if it wasn’t to have their spine realigned, posture corrected etc..
X-rays should only be used when underlying medical conditions are suspected which is about 5% of people.
Cookie Cutter Treatments
Short 10-15 treatments, where you get the same treatment every time you go and the same treatment everybody else gets. It usually involves the same two adjustments on the low back, mid back and neck or a slight variation of this . It may include a 5 or 10 minute massage which is pointless considering the amount of chronic tension people hold in their muscles. As well as being a chiropractor, I am a massage and muscle therapist with over 15 years experience, despite this I still need 30-45 minutes to make long term changes to the muscles, what can someone who has minimal training/experience in treating muscles achieve in 10 minutes?
The ironic thing is, the same chiropractor that claims pain is due to these ‘significant” findings on x-rays will also give a 10 minute, cookie cutter treatment that addresses nothing actually found on the x-rays.
Subluxations, Misalignments & “Pinched Nerves”
Some chiropractors will claim that misalignments in the spine will put pressure or “pinch” the nerves and cause pain and/or reduced function. which is where the nerve exists the spine, is relatively larger than the exiting nerves, in order for two adjacent vertebra to be compressing the nerves there needs to be a serious structural deformity and would require emergency spinal surgery.
The misalignments seen on x-rays are just normal wear and tear and actually cannot be reversed, you can see on this x-ray the shape of the bones have formed a wedge shape
Some will even take it a step further and claim these misalignments cause’s where the nerve innervates leading to decreased function to that organ, causing things such as digestive problems, asthma etc… and even poor immunity.
How To Avoid Getting Scammed
If you have any doubt or queries it’s usually best to call in advance and ask if x-rays are usually required, they may say that it depends on a case by case basis which is usually means yes. Check and see how long a typical appointment is and if it’s mainly just adjustments or is it a multidisciplinary approach. On the first appointment ask generally how many treatments will be required, I typically see someone 2 or 3 times then as needed there after, what I do isn’t magic I just use a multidisciplinary and patient focused approach. Avoid chiropractors who use terms like misalignments or subluxations their understanding of the spine, nervous system and pain is rudimentary at best.
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