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We hope you find our “Ask the Doc” forum educational and beneficial in your exploration and application of chiropractic care.

The primary purpose of this forum is to give people the opportunity to ask chiropractic related questions to real doctors of chiropractic in the spirit of fostering an open exchange of communication between the chiropractic profession and the community we serve.

Below you will find common questions and answers recently submitted to a respectable chiropractic organization, which capture and convey the power of chiropractic, its applications and benefits toward overall health and well being.

You are invited to submit your own questions to us at
We are excited to share the world of chiropractic with you, and are pleased that you have looked to us for information.

Q: Is chiropractic beneficial for overall health?

Chiropractic addresses the health and integrity of the human spinal column. The spinal column provides not only for mobility and structure for human beings but it also contains, within and alongside it, the body's communications system - the nervous system.

Without a properly functioning nervous system, the human body cannot adapt to all of the stress and demands placed upon it that we face throughout our existence. The ability to adapt to all of these different situations that we encounter is called health.

Thus, by ensuring that each person has a healthy and strong spinal column, chiropractors are also ensuring that each person has a fully effective nervous system, that in turn allows us the potential of reaching our optimum level of health and vitality.

Q: A pediatric physician told a 13 year old female that it is OK to have friends stand on her low back for spinal manipulation (cracking). What likely, foreseeable, problems could occur, if any?

NO! The 13 year old should not have anyone walk on her back. Specificity is everything in spinal manipulation. It's knowing where and how to apply pressure that makes a chiropractic adjustment. She can twist and turn through her normal range of motion and get the cracking sound without causing injury, but if she has someone walk on her back they could put pressure in the wrong place and create a problem, such as pain, numbness or complete disuse of a body part, not to mention interference with the function of an organ.

Q: Can chiropractors prescribe medications?

Very simply, no. Chiropractors are a drug free profession, first by philosophy, and then secondly, by law. If a chiropractor feels your condition requires any sort of medication or a second opinion, they will send you to a medical doctor for his advice and prescription. Your chiropractor has developed good relationships with doctors in your area, so don't hesitate to ask your chiropractor for a referral. But...don't be surprised how great chiropractic makes you feel, and quickly! So much so, you may not feel the need to see that medical doctor for the prescription.

Q: Should a chiropractor take x-rays before beginning any manipulations or are x-rays not always necessary?

There are several reasons to take x-rays before a chiropractor works on a patient, especially if they are doing manual adjustments of the spine. The primary reason to take an x-ray is to rule out pathology. Many types of diseases and cancers will cause back pain and may be detected on an x-ray.

I also think it's important to see what condition the spine is in before you put a manual force into the spine. Certain spinal problems such as severe degenerative arthritis or spondylolisthesis (forward slippage of a vertebra relative to the ones above and/or below it) may not be detected without an x-ray. This may alter the doctor's decision as to what type of adjusting technique he may use in that area of your spine.

One other reason that a chiropractor may take an x-ray is because of the adjusting technique he is using. Some techniques base how they are going to adjust the spine by specific analysis of the x-rays that they have taken to determine which direction and the magnitude that the vertebrae are misaligned. In my office, all patients have x-rays taken before we start their chiropractic care. We usually do not x-ray children under the age of 5 unless there are specific indications that warrant an x-ray (i.e. injury).

Q: What is the difference between a Chiropractor and a Physical Therapist and how do you know which you need?

The simple answer is that Chiropractors are doctors whose primary focus is on the functioning of the spinal column, and therefore diagnose and treat mainly spinal subluxations (partial dislocation, as of one of the bones in a joint). They are also trained in examination and diagnosis of all body parts and systems, enabling them to function as primary health care providers.

Physical therapists are providers that treat patients referred to them by doctors including medical doctors(MD), doctors of chiropractic(DC) and doctors of osteopathy(DO). They treat specific physical conditions that have already been diagnosed, with care plans set for them by the referring doctor.

There is, of course, the deeper issue of their differing philosophies in cause and treatment of disease.

A physical therapist can treat patients only with a doctor referral. The patient should first go to a chiropractor's office, where it can be determined if physical therapy is necessary and a referral can be made.

Q: After some neck and back discomfort a few weeks back I sought DC care. X-rays and 4 adjustments later I feel better but still have some occasional discomfort. Now my chiropractor says I need 24 more adjustments over 8 weeks, and then we'll formulate a long-term treatment plan. Does this sound reasonable?

Most patients are interested in short term pain relief. Most chiropractors are interested in long term health. Most patients are much better in 2-4 weeks. Most chiropractors feel that it takes much longer to establish good long term spinal health.

Since insurance companies only pay for short term acute care, leaving patients financially responsible for long term health care. Each patient has to make a decision about how much time and money they are willing to invest in their long term health. Ask your chiropractor to discuss the limits of your insurance coverage and the cost/benefit issues related to long term health care.

Q: My chiropractor has begun "fiddling" with my feet and saying he can tell where I'm "out" by my feet. Then he stopped manually adjusting me and now uses some instrument that feels like a stamp machine to "adjust" me. I don't feel like this is benefiting me and he hasn't really explained the change very well. Is this something new and if so what is your opinion of it?

Your chiropractor is using a technique called Activator Methods Technique. Each test that your chiropractor has you do, i.e. placing one hand on your back or turning your head, stresses a different vertebral level in your spinal column. If that level of your spine is subluxated (misaligned) and it becomes stressed by a particular test, then a reflex occurs in which the muscles on one side of your spine contract more than the muscles on the other side. This unequal contraction of the muscles pulls your hip and leg short.

When the doctor is looking at your feet, he is looking to see if the leg contracts short. If so, then he adjusts that level of your spine with the Activator instrument.

This technique is very well researched and is highly effective. There are many techniques used to adjust the spinal column. One individual may respond better to the Activator technique while another person may respond better to a manual (hands-on) adjustment.

Many times a chiropractor will use the Activator instrument on a patient instead of a manual adjustment if he feels that a low force technique is more appropriate i.e. osteoporosis, severe degenerative disc disease, children, etc.

The two of you should discuss the techniques being used, the reasons why, your preferences, etc. With this information I am confident a beneficial treatment program will be put in place.

Q: What is the average length of chiropractic school, and what is your opinion on the best school?

Most chiropractors go to undergraduate school for 3-4 years depending on the requirements of the school and the state that the person plans on practicing. Some doctors have a Bachelor of Science degree when they enter chiropractic school and take the same courses that you would take in a Pre-Med program.

Then Chiropractic College is generally 5 years of school that can be completed in 3 1/2 years depending on the Chiropractic College. Most students go year round and do not take summers off. This is the most cost effective way of doing it. The sooner that you get into practice the sooner you can begin paying off the student loans.

The total time spent in school (undergraduate plus Chiropractic College) before earning a D.C. (Doctor of Chiropractic degree ranges from 6.5 - 9 years.

Q: What are your views on the at home chiropractic care books and video's that are out there?

To be honest I have never viewed any books or videos myself so I can only tell you what I assume. If the information supplied actually tries to show how to make an adjustment than I think it can be very dangerous to the untrained public.

How can they take into account specificity (which is everything) without extensive training in examination, palpation and diagnostic interpretation skills? I get patients in several times a year who need help undoing what a friend or relative did when they tried to do what the chiropractor does.

The information may show you how to get a pop in the spine but unless all the research is wrong you're doing more harm in the long run. This becomes a freedom of speech issue and I feel strongly in everyone's right to express one self, but it's also a responsibility issue.

An untrained and unlicensed person would not be allowed to set up shop and offer chiropractic care to the general public without the proper education, training and licensure through the state, so why should any such lay person be allowed to perform the skills specific to the chiropractic profession that are learned through such training? It is not logical, safe, or responsible.
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