There is a debate as old as time in the medical community about the benefits and risks of chiropractic care. Some of the questions are based on the principles of chiropractic care, and some on the practices. Regardless, it is a polarizing topic, despite being the most widely used form of Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM).
I have been in and out of chiropractic care for almost half my life (I’m pushing 30!). What I believe is that the debate lies in the practice, not of chiropractic techniques themselves, but in the delivery of care. I have experienced 2 general types of chiropractors:
1) Those that see several patients an hour, sometimes callously referred to as the “Rack and Crack” doctors, and
2) Those that spend significant time (whatever is needed) with a patient one-on-one.
My first chiropractors, a married couple in my hometown, were the latter type, and I continue to travel 2 hours home to see them when I have any issues. Sadly, of all the cities I have lived in and all the chiropractors I have met throughout the years, I only encountered this style 2 more times, once in Arizona and once in my current town of residence. What this signals to me, sadly, is that this is not the most profitable form of care for chiropractors, since any treatments beyond spinal adjustment and traction, such as soft tissue, electric stimulation, ultrasound, and adjustments of other joints take time to perform. My hometown chiropractors place a great deal of emphasis on nutrition, exercise, stress management, and medication-free living. They also stressed returning when it was needed, on a case-by-case basis. It is easy to understand why, at a young age, I developed such a positive view of chiropractic care.
The high-volume chiropractor will see several patients an hour in an open-room setting, which may eliminate a sense of privacy and one-on-one attention from a health care provider. These chiropractors will almost always take X-rays of your spine (which I’ve found are never normal despite the presence or absence of pain) then insist you sign up for a minimum of 25 adjustment appointments, sometimes paid in advance. This is one of the most common criticisms of chiropractors – that patients end up relying on coming regularly to feel well. I am sure countless people have been relieved of their pain and dysfunction with this model, but it is easy to see where the may controversy arise when comparing these 2 styles.
If you are considering chiropractic care for ANY musculoskeletal condition, consider asking a few questions about their style of care. Do they see patients one-on-one in private rooms? Do they see patients as needed, or do they emphasize X amount of visits? If you have a simple to treat condition, this question may be less important, but it is certainly worth asking. Personally, I never see a new medical doctor without reading every review on health grades I can find. Practitioners of complementary medicine should be held to the same standards.
Best of health to you!