How Much Does a Chiropractor Cost?
If you are comparing treatments for various conditions, you may be considering visiting a chiropractor as an alternative or adjunct to your medical doctor. However, if the chiropractor cost is leaving you mystified, keep reading, so you can learn more about the topic and plan accordingly. There are many factors that go into how much a chiropractor costs and many things you can do that may affect the amount you pay.
A Range of Fees
To ask what a chiropractor costs is a bit like asking what it costs to go to the doctor. Everyone’s situation is different, and of course, chiropractors are different too.
In general, chiropractic services can cost anywhere from about $30 to several hundred dollars per appointment. The average fee to see a chiropractor is approximately $65 per visit. Certain treatments may be more expensive, and the overall cost may be more if your chiropractor recommends that you need to return for repeat appointments periodically for a certain amount of time.
Let’s take a look at factors that affect the cost of a chiropractic treatment so you’ll have a better idea where your money is going.
Just like when you go to your regular doctor, a visit to the chiropractor can require different diagnostic and treatment equipment. And just like at the doctor’s office, you will pay for these various services whether directly or as part of your total visit cost.
MRI scanning, also known as magnetic resonance imaging, gives a chiropractor in-depth information about your health, particularly your musculoskeletal system. While an MRI is more costly than many other diagnostic tools, it is very thorough and is often the gold standard for diagnosing numerous conditions. Your chiropractor will probably outsource the MRI scanning to an MRI center near you. MRI tests typically run between $100 and $400, although they may cost more than that in some areas.
Surface electromyography, also known as EMG or SMG, measures your muscles’ electrical activity. This can give the chiropractor vital information about how your muscles are used or even muscle atrophy or reduced function due to joint or spinal problems. Electromyography tests usually cost at least $200 and may cost more.
Thermography measures the heat and energy that your nerves and other soft tissues give off. The results appear on a map of the body and can indicate certain disorders or corroborate pain and discomfort. For people who cannot be exposed to radiation, such as with x-rays, thermography is a good alternative. A typical thermograph will cost between $200 and $500.
Radiography is a general term that often includes several types of medical imaging, from traditional x-rays that are still in use today to CT scans, also known as computerized tomography. Radiography is an ideal way to get a baseline image of your musculoskeletal system for comparison purposes to use as your treatment progresses. One advantage to x-rays is that they tend to be less expensive, between $50 and $150.
Adjustment tables look a bit like special massage tables, and they’re used by chiropractors to both perform diagnostic procedures and adjustments (treatments) during appointments. Different techniques can be used while the patient rests on an adjustment table, such as massage and manipulation of the joints. While many chiropractors still use basic manual tables, some use more advanced computerized adjustment tables, which may result in a larger cost for your treatment.
Diathermy uses electromagnetic therapy to heat tissue in the body and help it relax. Often chiropractors use diathermy at the end of treatment after an adjustment as an extra therapy to enhance their work. Heated pads are placed on the skin, much like electrodes for an EKG. Some chiropractors include diathermy in their total treatment cost, while others charge extra for it. Diathermy is generally quite reasonable, and you can expect to pay between $10 and $50 per treatment.
Some chiropractors like to use handheld digital devices that offer minute adjustments for ultra-accurate therapy. These computerized adjustment tools can help your chiropractor zero in on precise treatment areas and provide just the right amount of adjustment or other care. Like diathermy, computerized adjustment is sometimes included in the overall cost of care paid by the patient, but the total cost per appointment may be higher to reflect the use of this type of advanced instrument.
Hydrotherapy is water therapy, given most frequently in a pool or special bath. Sometimes hydrotherapy can be applied with special wraps as well. Some chiropractors alternate using hot and cold water to boost the circulation and provide pain relief. Hydrotherapy systems run the gamut of price and can cost anywhere from $50 to $500 depending on the treatment you receive.
Ultrasound therapy is an inexpensive treatment that provides great relief for many patients. By passing ultrasonic waves through the body, ultrasound therapy can relieve muscle spasms and even improve how your joints function. Ultrasound therapy is perfect for when you have tight muscle pain, inflammation or poor circulation. The cost of adding ultrasound therapy to an appointment is generally about $20 or $25 per session.
A chiropractic roller table can offer different treatment from the regular adjustment table, and some doctors use it for massage or to provide traction. Although chiropractors generally don’t charge per use for it, chiropractic roller table equipment may be reflected in the chiropractor’s total fee.
Laser treatment is often used in the chiropractor’s office for sports injuries where there is pain or swelling. The advantage of laser treatment is that the chiropractor can direct pulses of light from the laser to highly specific areas of the body to provide targeted relief. Laser systems are generally pricey, so expect laser therapy to cost at least $200 per treatment.
Electrical muscular stimulation
Electrical muscular stimulation is another treatment that uses electrodes on the skin to transmit energy to the body from a machine. Like some other chiropractic treatments, electrical muscular stimulation can alleviate muscle spasms and help with swelling and pain. You may have heard of a TENS unit which stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulators. A TENS unit is the most widely used form of electrical muscular stimulation. Electrical muscular stimulation can be expensive, up to $250 per treatment, but it can also be as little as $20 per application.
Chiropractor Experience and Credentials
In addition to the various equipment used, the experience and credentials of a chiropractor can also be reflected in their fees, much like going to other health practitioners.
All chiropractors are required to do a certain amount of training, followed by practical work to become accredited. Many chiropractors go on to complete continuing education and updates to their initial training, which may allow them to charge more to their patients. Chiropractors who charge more typically also have more years of experience in treating patients, excellent patient reviews, the recommendation of their peers, and a greater investment in their office equipment and chiropractic technology.
While some patients may balk at paying more to see a chiropractor, remember these practitioners have put in years of education and hours of time learning about new chiropractic diagnostic and treatment modalities. A chiropractor who doesn’t charge much per session but who doesn’t give you any relief from your chief complaint isn’t really a bargain, whereas a chiropractor who charges a bit more per session but who alleviates discomfort or improves the quality of your life is usually well worth it.
Just like with any other health profession, chiropractic costs are also affected by geography. If you live in an affluent area, expect chiropractic treatments near you to cost more. If you live in a rural area with only one or two chiropractors, you can likewise expect the price to be a little higher because they are in greater demand with little competition.
In urban areas where there are many chiropractors available in a small area, you may find chiropractors competing slightly for price. Where the chiropractor’s clinic is located within any given city or town is another factor that influences how much they charge. Depending on your area, it may be more or less expensive to operate a chiropractic clinic in conjunction with a hospital or medical center versus privately in their own office.
Believe it or not, your lifestyle can also affect what you wind up paying a chiropractor. For example, if you adhere to the recommendations that your chiropractor makes and take good care of your health, you may not need as many appointments as someone who is less vigilant about their own well-being.
In addition to chronic conditions that may require long-term chiropractic care, there are certain lifestyles or professions that may also lend themselves the chiropractic treatments that stretch over the course of months or even years, such as dancers, athletes, or other people who make their living engaging in physical labor.
Nowadays many insurance plans cover at least part of chiropractic care because it has become an accepted form of complementary medicine. Even Medicaid, Medicare and federal health plans for the military typically cover chiropractic care, and if you have workers compensation programs on the job, they may also cover chiropractic.
It’s a good idea before getting any chiropractic treatments to speak with your insurance provider to find out exactly what’s covered and what is not. Questions to ask your insurance provider include:
- Is there a limit to how many chiropractic visits are covered by the insurance policy?
- Does the insurance policy pay for all of a chiropractic visit or only a certain percentage?
- Will chiropractic treatment paid by you out-of-pocket go towards your deductible?
- Do the same copayment rules apply at the chiropractor’s office?
- What elements of chiropractic care are covered by insurance, such as initial appointments, imaging, and other diagnostics?
- If your chiropractor recommends certain special tools, such supportive pillows or physical therapy gear, is that covered by insurance?
- Can you go to a chiropractor of choice, or does your plan have a network of chiropractors that limits your choice of practitioner?
While it’s nice to have your insurance cover chiropractic care under most circumstances, the benefit of paying out-of-pocket is that you can choose the provider you like most and even try several chiropractors to find the one that’s best for you.
As you can see, there are many factors that influence the cost of chiropractic care. In general always ask first, so you know what to expect when it’s time to pay. Know what your first appointment will cost, and at the end of that appointment ask your chiropractor what you can expect to pay for subsequent treatments and how often you will need to return.
If your insurance does not cover chiropractic care, and you are paying out-of-pocket, will you be required to pay for care upfront at each appointment, or will the chiropractor invoice you and if so at what intervals? What payment methods, such as checks, cash, debit cards, and credit cards, does the chiropractor accept?
If the chiropractor you really want to see is outside your budget, or if you have a limited selection of chiropractors available in your area, and you simply can’t afford them, it’s advisable to ask if the chiropractor offers services on a sliding scale or offers payment plans. For really expensive or long-term treatment some chiropractors have financing, much as you might pay for expensive elective dental procedures or orthodontic care. For this type of financing, expect to fill out some paperwork and to disclose some basic financial information. You may also need to verify your employment, particularly if the chiropractor is using a third party to provide financing.
It’s great if a chiropractor can offer you affordable care, but be wary of discount chiropractors who provide cheap coverage to everyone. Always ask about a prospective chiropractor’s credentials (any good chiropractor will readily provide them), and avoid chiropractors who may be unqualified or even dangerous. Still have questions about how much seeing a chiropractor costs? Contact us at True Spine Chiropractic today, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.