As the opioid epidemic rages on, people with chronic pain are left with a dilemma: how to manage pain at a time when medication is being limited due to increasing problems with addiction and abuse. If you suffer from chronic pain, there is another option in chiropractic care, which can help you get off your opioid prescriptions.

The Dangers of Opioid Medications

If you take opioid medications for chronic pain, you know they work to help you function and live a normal life. People who take pain medication can parent children, go to work every day, and even exercise, which they typically cannot do without pharmaceutical help. Common opioid medications, also known as narcotics, include:

Codeine

Fentanyl

Hydrocodone/hydrocodone combinations

Hydromorphone

Meperidine

Methadone

Morphine

Oxycodone/oxycodone combinations

These are the generic names for these medications, which also go by numerous trade names. However, the generic is always listed on the bottle and in the package insert along with the trade name, for your information.

The problem with opioids is their relief can come at a cost. Users of opioid medications frequently develop a tolerance to them, where they need more and more of a drug to get the same effect from it.

This results in people taking unsafe levels of these medications, which increases the side effects. Common opioid side effects include:

Liver damage (especially if the opioid is paired with acetaminophen, AKA Tylenol, for increased efficacy)

Nausea and vomiting

Constipation, abdominal distention, and bloating

Itching

Respiratory depression and subsequent brain damage from hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain)

Hypotension (low blood pressure)

Bradycardia (slow heart rate)

Dizziness

Extreme fatigue and sedation

Physical and psychological dependence

The very drugs that are supposed to help restore some semblance of a normal life wind up inhibiting it when taken to excess. In extreme cases, overdose can occur, the signs of which include:

Pinpoint pupils

Extreme confusion and slurred speech

Slack muscles and inability to move

Inability to react to stimulus

Loss of consciousness

Slow or stopped breathing or respiratory “rattles” (may be confused with snoring)

Purple or ashy skin

Blue or black lips and fingernails

Clammy skin

Vomiting

Slow or absent pulse

If a loved one shows any of the signs above, it’s vital to call an ambulance via 911 and get them to the emergency room immediately. There are drugs that can reverse the effects of opioids but they need to be administered within a certain time frame to be effective in order for the recipient to survive.

People die every day in the United States from opioid overdoses, including accidental overdoses. In 2016, over 42,000 deaths in the US were due to opioid overdoses.

Opioid tolerance also greatly increases the expense of these prescriptions. If your doctor or pharmacist feels you are taking too high a dose of your medication, you may be told to reduce the dose. This causes embarrassment, and you can be left with a suboptimal dose that doesn’t relieve your pain any longer.

Other negatives of taking prescription opioid medications include:

Pharmacies often run out of these drugs because they stock them in limited amounts due to theft.

It can be difficult to travel with opioid medications, even with a prescription, because they are considered a controlled narcotic substance.

Employers who conduct drug screens may not want workers who take narcotic substances of any kind.

Taking high doses of opioid pain medications can mask other pain, which is there to alert you to a serious problem.

Taking opioid medications can result in social stigmatizing, where people who don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the opioid epidemic don’t realize that you need help for chronic pain. People who take opioids can even come under fire from medical professionals who see them as “drug seekers” when they are seen for pain in urgent care or the emergency room.

Opioids can interfere with other medications and supplements you take for conditions not related to pain by competing for metabolic pathways in the body, thereby either increasing or decreasing the effect of the opioid.

Taking opioid pain medications leaves you few alternatives if you require pain medication for another condition because you may already be maxing out your body’s ability to metabolize pain pills.

Keeping prescription opioids in the home means they could be found and taken by children or teens, which could result in accidental poisoning or recreational abuse.

People who know you take opioid drugs can make you a target for theft, either in your home or from your purse.

The side effects of opioids can be so severe that you wind up taking other drugs to manage them, including antihistamines, anti-nausea medications, and stool softeners. These drugs can have their own side effects, and of course increase your bill at the pharmacy.

The cost of taking opioid medications over time can be significant, especially if the medication that works for you isn’t on your health plan’s formulary and you have to pay out of pocket for a different drug.

Prescription pain medications may make life more manageable, but they mask pain instead of getting to the root cause of it, which may be fixable.

Signs of Opioid Addiction and Abuse

As noted above, physical and psychological dependence can develop as a result of long-term use of opioids, even at reasonable, safe doses. While it makes sense that your body craves a substance that provides relief from pain, you do not want to become addicted to any opioid medication.

Addiction can lead to abuse and can result in a host of undesirable consequences because people who are addicted to a medication will essentially do anything to get it. Signs of opioid addiction and abuse include:

Taking more than the prescribed amount of medication

Taking the medication for recreational use to feel relaxed or to get high

Constant pinpoint pupils

Inability to function due to extreme side effects, especially sedation

Slips, falls, and accidents, including motor vehicle accidents, due to sedation

Social withdrawal

Poor work or school performance

Lack of interest in hobbies and normal pleasures

Dramatic mood swings

Increased risky behavior

Using multiple doctors or pharmacies and multiple opioid prescriptions

Stealing opioids or money for opioids

Buying opioids on the street

Hiding medications

Taking opioid medications in a different way than how they are prescribed, such snorting them

Withdrawal symptoms when unable to obtain medication within six to 72 hours (nausea, cramping, agitation, anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, racing heart, sweating, shivers, tremors, and drug cravings)

If you yourself show these signs or you notice them in a loved one, it’s time to get help from professionals, either to greatly reduce your opioid medication or to eliminate it altogether.

Options for Eliminating Opioid Prescriptions

Fortunately, there are many resources at your disposal to help with opioid tolerance, dependence, addiction, and abuse. Typically, there are detox measures you can undergo to end addiction:

Medical detoxification at a rehab center

Counseling

Family therapy

Support groups and 12-step programs

These programs can be effective at eliminating opioid medications from the participant’s life. But what are they going to do for their lingering chronic pain? Usually, muscle relaxers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen weren’t effective, which is why the individual started taking an opioid in the first place.

Chiropractic careChiropractic Care and Alternative Medicine for Chronic Pain

Luckily for chronic pain sufferers, chiropractic care and other forms of complementary medicine can help people get off their opioid prescriptions. To understand how chiropractic is beneficial in this situation, it helps to first learn how opioid medications work.

Your body has opioid receptors in your brain, spinal cord, and other areas of the body, such as the digestive system. Opioid receptors exist outside the nervous system because those parts of the body were once part of your developing brain and spinal cord, until the different body parts separated during fetal development. When an opioid drug binds with your opioid receptors, it shuts off your pain mechanism.

Opioids also produce a “high” feeling of great calm and relaxation, which is why they are often abused as street drugs and why they easily become addictive. They are in the same broad class as heroin. Your brain gets a tiny chemical reward every time you feel good when taking an opioid, until you no longer want to go without that elated feeling, another reason opioids are so addictive.

In order to replace opioid medications for chronic pain sufferers, complementary medicine techniques need to provide the same level of relief, either by reducing how much pain someone feels or by treating the root cause of the pain. Alternative medicine non-drug techniques that help to relieve pain, albeit usually temporarily, include:

Massage

Acupuncture

Heat therapy

Essential oils

Chiropractic care, however, helps get at the root cause of chronic pain, while also providing relief in the moment. While spinal manipulation is the mainstay of chiropractic treatment, chiropractic care has expanded greatly over the last two decades to include other diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. Other elements of chiropractic that assist with pain include:

NUCCA adjustment that focuses on the neck

Manipulation of the body outside of the spine

Roller therapy

Ultrasound

Laser therapy

Massage

Postural education

Recommendations for sleeping surfaces (mattress and pillows)

Ergonomic training to educate patients on proper sitting, lifting, etc.

In fact, chiropractic is so effective that it is now recommended by conventional Western medicine practitioners and is included in the American College of Physicians’ guidelines for treating nonradicular low back pain.

Why does chiropractic care work so well for chronic pain? First, it addresses postural and alignment problems that could be causing or exacerbating pain. Because all your nerves stem from your spinal cord, any misalignment there can affect your whole body, especially your arms and legs.

Adjustments to the neck can relieve pain lower on the body, as well as headaches, shoulder pain, and jaw pain. After a thorough physical exam to determine the cause of pain and any other resulting pain problems, a chiropractor will use various chiropractic techniques to realign the spine and eliminate misalignment as a cause of pain.

Chiropractic care also helps relieve muscle tension, stiffness, spasms, and a reduced range of motion that comes from bracing against chronic pain or compensating for one part of the body being constantly in pain. For example, if you have a sore right hip due to severe osteoarthritis, your right leg may become sore as well from taking more of your weight, whether you’re walking or lying on your side sleeping.

Treating pain through chiropractic care triggers a domino effect of positive benefits for patients. When they feel less pain, they sleep better and suffer from less depression. That in turns helps relieve even more pain because both insomnia and depression contribute to pain.

A 2012 US study that is highly referenced showed that roughly one-third of patients who elected to try chiropractic care instead of medication for neck pain became pain-free as opposed to just 13 percent who became pain-free with only medication. This is significant because it shows that chiropractic care can actually relieve pain better than drugs in some cases.

If you suffer from chronic pain and take opioid medication, it’s wise to consider other non-pharmaceutical options to manage your pain. Never give up taking prescription opioids cold turkey. Talk to your health care provider about how you could step down to a lower dose while starting chiropractic care. Eventually, you may be able to discontinue your opioid pain medications completely with alternative therapies.

To find out more about how chiropractic care can help with your chronic pain, contact True Spine Chiropractic today. Our goal is to help patients get rid of pain and live fuller lives. We want your brain and your body to communicate properly so we strive to remove stresses to the body that impede that. With our expert chiropractic care, you may be able to live pain free and stop taking opioid medications that put your health in danger. Take the first step and get in touch for a free consultation!

You may have heard doctors and chiropractors take about spinal subluxation, but do you know what it really is? If not, we're going to cover what it is, the different broad categories that chiropractors use to describe it, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatments below.

Defining Spinal Subluxation

When people talk about subluxation, they're talking about the vertebra in your spine being in abnormal positions or misaligned. In turn, you experience loss of function due to the different pressure points on your spinal column. This can come from a traumatic event or certain aspects of your lifestyle. For example, if you have bad posture, it can slowly start to shift your spine out of the natural alignment, particularly in the soft tissue areas between your vertebra.

This condition can steadily get worse over time. If you get into some type of accident that directly impacts your neck or back, like a fall, car accident, or another traumatic event that jolts your spine, it can kickstart the process. It can interfere with the natural healing process of the surrounding muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues as well.

This is why so many people have lifelong issues with their back or neck once they injure it. Common tasks can aggravate the surrounding tissues as well, and this can cause inflammation that pushes on the spinal column.

Four Spinal Subluxation Categories

To make it slightly more complicated, there are four broad categories that encompass different types of spinal subluxation. Each category has several subcategories, and this is why it can take a while to get a concrete diagnosis.

subluxation

Category One - Static Intersegmental Subluxation

This category refers to spinal subluxation that a chiropractor can detect by feeling along your spine to determine your spine's mobility. It includes:

Altered Interosseous Spacing (either decreased or increased)

Anterolesthesis

Extension abnormalities

Flexion abnormalities

Lateral flexion abnormalities

Osseous Foraminal encroachment

Retrolisthesis

Rotation abnormalities

Category Two - Kinetic Intersegmental Subluxation

If you have this type of spinal subluxation, your chiropractor is able to detect movement between the normal sections of your spinal column. There are three possible subcategories, and they include:

Aberrant motion (contradicting movement)

Hypermobility (joints move far beyond their normal range)

Hypomobility (joints are rigid and unmoving)

Category Three - Sectional Subluxation

This category of spinal subluxation refers to subluxation that takes place in one specific area of your spine. It could involve a portion of your spine curving or listing to one side. This might include:

Abnormalities of motion (sections of your spine move in odd ways)

Decompensation of adaptational curves (spine starts to deteriorate at any curved areas)

Scoliosis and/or curve alteration secondary to a muscle imbalance

Scoliosis and/or curve alteration secondary to any structural asymmetries

Category Four - Paravertebral Subluxation

This type of spinal subluxation directly impacts the spinal muscles that run the length of the spine. It can also impact any of the soft tissues along the spine, like ligaments and tendons. For example:

Costovertebral or costotransverse separation (joints that connect your ribs to the spine)

Sacroiliac subluxation (deterioration of a joint in your pelvis)

Causes of Spinal Subluxation

If your spine comes under a force that is strong enough to overcome the natural amount of resistance of your body's tendons, ligaments, and muscles, the spine could get out of alignment. There are dozens of possible causes of spinal subluxation, but you can define them under three broad categories. They include:

1. Chemical Causes

It is widely studied and accepted that chemicals can have a negative impact on your muscle and muscle tone. Since your spine depends on strong muscles to keep it in place, losing muscle tone can allow it to shift. For example, people who don't get enough calcium in their systems can experience muscle spasms.

Additionally, prescription drugs can negatively impact a person's natural body chemistry. You also get chemicals in the food you eat if you eat ultra-processed foods. All of these things can cause your system to get overwhelmed and not function as well as it could. In turn, you experience weakening muscles.

2. Emotional Causes

Your emotions can play a huge role in your overall health, and being exposed to constant stress can have a negative impact on your physical health. Stress causes your muscles to constantly tighten up, and this increases your risk of having muscle spasms or fatigue.

If your muscles get fatigued, they can lose some of their ability to keep your spine in alignment. Subluxation occurs when your tendon and muscles can't keep your spine straight. They'll slowly start to allow your vertebra to shift one way or the other.

3. Physical Causes

Although a sudden onset of spinal subluxation is rare, it can happen. It's usually the result of some form of traumatic event that jolted your spine or caused injuries to the muscles or tendons in your back. For example, a car accident can cause whiplash. This results in muscle spasms, tightness and back pain that can cause misalignment.

Constant and repeated trauma could also play a part in spinal subluxation. For example, if you carry a heavy bag on one shoulder every day, or if you sit at a desk a certain way. This could cause a slow and gradual shift in your spine's natural alignment.

Changes That Can Come With Spinal Subluxation

In general, most chiropractors believe that spinal subluxation is a process that negatively impacts an individual as their tissues undergo constant and steady changes, rather than being from a sudden jolt or traumatic injury. However, several things that chiropractors widely believe can come with spinal subluxation include but are not limited to:

Atrophy of the Muscles

Muscle atrophy is common in people who have suffered a traumatic injury and aren't able to move. It's also common in elderly people who aren't as active, or people who have certain diseases, and certain conditions. The muscles around and in the spine shrink or waste away, and this can cause the spine to misalign.

Congestion

When you have joint dysfunction, it can spread out to other areas around the impacted joint. Some muscles around your spine can develop pockets of congestion where toxins build up and irritate the nerve endings. As a result, you get pain.

Edema

Your body has millions of tiny blood vessels all over. When they are pressured or damaged, it can allow fluid to leak from them into the surrounding tissues. When this happens, you end up with swelling and fluid retention called edema. This swelling can further shift your spine's alignment.

Fibrosis

People who have recurrent back problems often develop thicker scar tissue on their muscles and between the vertebra. This process, where scar tissue slowly starts to replace your normal muscle tissue, is a condition called fibrosis.

Hyperemia

If your spinal subluxation causes an interruption of the normal blood flow around your body, you can develop hyperemia. This condition means that there is an excess amount of blood pooling in one area of your body due to a blockage.

Local Ischemia

This condition refers to an extremely specific type of muscle pain. There is a lack of blood flow to the muscle due to increasing spasms, and this leaves your muscles very tender and painful to the touch.

Minute Hemorrhages

A minute hemorrhage is a condition where you have small amounts of abnormal blood flow or bleeding inside your body's blood vessels. Underlying conditions like spinal subluxation and certain triggers can cause it.

Tissue Rigidity

As your spinal subluxation starts to get worse, you can experience tissue rigidity. This can impact your joint capsules, tendons, ligaments, and the muscles themselves around your spine.

Symptoms of Spinal Subluxation

No matter which type of spinal subluxation you have, the symptoms are typically the same. You may experience some of these symptoms, and they can vary in severity from person to person depending on the person's health and how advanced the subluxation is.

Abnormal Blood Pressure

Digestive Issues

Dizziness, loss of balance, lack of coordination

Headaches

Impaired immune function

Impaired lung function, including asthma

Low energy

Lower back pain

Menstrual and fertility problems

Neck pain

Pain in the legs and feet, including sciatic nerve pain

Swelling and fluid retention

Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet.

TMJ

Trouble sleeping

chiropractor

Diagnosing Spinal Subluxation

The diagnosis process can be slightly longer and more drawn out than other types of back or spine issues. However, it all usually starts with a person detailing their symptoms and noting if they get worse or better over time.

You typically go into your chiropractor with a list of your symptoms and explain what you've experienced over the past few weeks or months. they'll ask whether or not you've had any changes in your lifestyle or accidents and physical injuries. Once they go through your history, they'll typically perform a physical exam.

This physical exam usually involves feeling the areas along your spine for any noticeable abnormalities or swelling. If they find them, they'll usually request that you have an x-ray or two of your spine taken. This x-ray will be able to show any curvatures or abnormalities in your spine and in the surrounding bones or joints.

They'll take note of any tenderness or pain you may have, abnormalities in your range of motion, tissue or muscle tone changes, and any obvious misalignment or asymmetry. Based on their findings, they may choose to monitor these symptoms for a few months to see if they get more pronounced before they decide on a treatment plan.

Treating Spinal Subluxation

Your treatment plan for your spinal subluxation will depend on your health and lifestyle factors as well as how severe your case is. Common treatment plans include but are not limited to:

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractors focus on the underlying cause of your symptoms and work to treat it. They can perform a variety of chiropractic adjustments to help restore your spine's natural alignment. They apply force to specific parts of the spine to help slide it back into place. They may also recommend that you take part in rehabilitation to help strengthen your back muscles, and heat or cold therapy can also help to alleviate any pain or tenderness you may experience.

Manual Therapy

You may get assigned homework once you leave your chiropractor's office in order to help you strengthen your muscles and improve your posture. Rolfing, massage therapy, and active release techniques can help you remove some of the tension from your back and neck. It helps to address things you may be dong to make your subluxation worse, like poor posture or stress.

Diet Changes

Eating a healthier diet can help to reduce the inflammation levels you have throughout your body, and this can help your body function better as a whole. You want to concentrate on staying hydrated because this can help prevent muscle cramping, fatigue, and spasms. You should also work on cutting out ultra-refined foods that have a lot of carbohydrates and sugars.

Exercise

Starting an exercise routine can help you strengthen your muscles and tendons to help keep your spine in proper alignment. You want to focus on a mix of strength training and cardio to help you improve your flexibility, build muscle, tone muscle, and improve your posture. It's best to start out slow and build your way up. Enlisting the help of a personal trainer can help motivate you.

Mind-Body Treatment

Along with improving your physical health, you really want to focus on your mental health as well. You can try to reduce the stress levels that are present in your life or learn how to cope with it better. You can take up some stress-relieving activities like going for a walk, journaling, meditating, yoga, acupuncture, or low-impact exercise. Additionally, you may want to set up an appointment with a counselor to help you improve your mental health.

Contact True Spine Today!

Are you having symptoms that may point to spinal subluxation? Maybe you've had a traumatic event that is causing a variety of issues, and all of these issues tie back to your spine or back. If so, contact us! Our staff are ready and willing to answer any questions, address any concerns, and set up a consultation for you today!

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.

chiropractor fees

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.

Chiropractor Services

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

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.

Electromyography (EMG)

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

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

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

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

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.

Computerized adjustment

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

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

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.

Chiropractic roller

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

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.

Geography

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.

Your Lifestyle

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.

Insurance

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:

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

If you're thinking about going to a chiropractor for care, you may wonder: does chiropractic work? You may have heard people telling you about wonderful experiences with their chiropractor, or conversely, you may have heard negative things about chiropractic. Some physicians recommend chiropractors and work well in concert with them, while others have negative things to say about this type of healthcare. Here's a deeper dive into the question, so you can decide for yourself if going to a chiropractor really works.

Wide Range of Services

Asking if Chiropractic really works in today's modern world is a bit like asking if medicine really works. There is a broad range of services offered by chiropractors, and it goes beyond the basics that make up the initial essentials of chiropractic care.

Chiropractic originated as a way to ameliorate or cure various conditions in the body that were related to problems with the spine, posture, and related joints. Depending on how they were trained and their experience as clinicians, chiropractors can use a range of different techniques to manipulate the body, particularly the neck and back, to relieve pain, eliminate numbness and tingling in the arms and hands, and improve range of motion, among other things.

Many chiropractors do this every day, and their patients swear by the results. There were chiropractors, however, especially in the early days of chiropractic popularity, who took this too far and attempted to use chiropractic to treat conditions that in most cases cannot be affected by true traditional chiropractic treatment modalities.

Additionally, even when using chiropractic methods to treat issues that do respond to chiropractic care, some chiropractors are not careful in their handling of the body and may be too rough or too forceful. Because they are not medical doctors, they may not be aware of other conditions affecting the patient, and in some instances, chiropractic treatment can actually have harmful or even fatal effects on the patient. It is largely for these reasons that chiropractic has earned a negative reputation in some quarters.

Beyond traditional chiropractic treatment that involves manipulating the spine, chiropractors today use a range of other technologies (see below) to enhance their patient care. While some of these advances are really based on ancient methods of care, like hydrotherapy, there are others, like electrical muscular stimulation, that are based on current scientific research and that are well-studied. When applied properly, these new treatments add another level of relief for patients and are quite effective. Some of them are used in conventional medicine by practitioners like orthopaedists as well.

Assessing the efficacy of chiropractors as an entire group is, therefore, a bit like comparing general practitioners in conventional medicine to specialists, such as sports medicine doctors or rheumatologists. You can't simply lump them all into one group and say they all work or they all do not.

Are there studies that evaluate the efficacy of chiropractic care? Yes, but the data is conflicting. While there are studies that concluded that chiropractic was not effective, there are just as many that show it does work. One area of chiropractic studies that is often overlooked is the cost-effectiveness of chiropractic versus more traditional treatments, and in many cases, chiropractic is more economical for the patient.

As well as studies the demonstrated that chiropractic was not effective in some instances, there have been legal cases that have shown that chiropractic was actually harmful to certain patients. In these instances, it was not necessarily the technique itself that was harmful, but rather the extreme degree to which it was practiced, lack of education on the part of the chiropractor, or incomplete assessment or lack of knowledge about the patient, who had another condition unknown to the chiropractor that was exacerbated in a negative way by chiropractic treatment.

In some instances, the results of studies about chiropractic depended on what type of symptoms were being treated by the chiropractor being evaluated. If you are looking for a chiropractor to treat a particular condition, it makes sense then to both talk to any prospective chiropractors and ask them about their experience with your condition and if possible, to do a little bit of reading on your own to see if you can find literature that backs up the efficacy of chiropractic to treat your particular problem.

does chiropractic work

Broad Spectrum of Qualifications

Just like in the medical world, chiropractors are required to complete certain basic training and perform a practicum in which they learn how to apply their training to live patients. And just like with conventional medical doctors, some chiropractors extend their training by completing continuing education courses, reading new research, and learning about new diagnostic and treatment technology.

Sadly, there are some chiropractors in practice today who have not completed the required education for their profession but who have set up shop and continue to see patients. These are the most egregious violators of both legal and moral rules surrounding patient care.

As a patient considering chiropractic care, it is advisable to do your due diligence and check out the credentials of any chiropractor you wish to see. Ask about their training and how they stay current with their profession, and whenever possible look for patient reviews or word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and even physicians or other practitioners in conventional medicine. A chiropractor who is highly recommended or affiliated with a hospital or medical center is always a better bet than someone you don't know or a discount chiropractor who may have a sketchy educational background.

New Technology

As mentioned above, there is a wealth of new technology available to chiropractors today, just as there is in conventional medicine. Depending on what is being treated, the efficacy of chiropractic may be enhanced by using some of these new technologies.

Additionally, diagnostic methods that were previously only available to traditional medical doctors are now being widely used by chiropractors. The beauty of these diagnostic technologies is that they can give chiropractors a baseline for comparison purposes.

For example, taking medical images, such as radiographs or an MRI scan, when the patient first arrives for treatment lets the chiropractor know what they are dealing with. Then, as treatment progresses, subsequent images can be taken to see if chiropractic treatment has been effective and to assess changes in the body that would indicate positive progress for the patient. Just as an orthopedist might take an x-ray of a broken arm when the patient first presents, and another x-ray a few months later to see if the bone has healed, a chiropractor can use similar images to check the alignment of the spine for things like herniated discs causing unpleasant symptoms for the patient.

Some of the new technology available to chiropractors, or technology that has been around for a while but is now considered more standard in chiropractic include:

Radiography

Radiography can include traditional x-rays as well as CT scans, also known as computerized tomography. These images are ideal for getting a baseline when you first start chiropractic treatment, so your chiropractor can assess progress by comparing your first images to ones taken later.

MRI scans

MRI scans, as you probably know, are more expensive in most instances than radiography, however, they generally give a more complete image and can be used for a wider range of patient conditions. In some cases, an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is the only way to diagnose the problem, which isn't visible on traditional radiographs.

Thermography

Chiropractors often use thermography as an alternative to x-rays and CT scans for patients who prefer not to be exposed to radiation. Thermography essentially creates a heat map of the body and can be used to assess problems with nerves and soft tissue.

Electromyography

If you're having a muscular problem, your chiropractor may recommend electromyography. This diagnostic technique examines electrical activity in the muscles of the body, which can be helpful if you have had a loss of function due to spinal problems, either through nerve injury or irritation or reduced mobility due to pain.

Electrical muscular stimulation

The most popular form of electrical muscular stimulation is the TENS unit, which is a portable device that attaches to the body and provides a small amount of stimulation to soft tissue to alleviate pain and improve range of motion. This type of treatment is frequently used in conventional medicine as well, often by physical therapists who work alongside orthopaedists, rheumatologists, and neurologists.

Diathermy

Diathermy is a type of heat therapy that some chiropractors use to augment standard treatment at the end of the session. Heat therapy is very well studied and is considered effective for many types of musculoskeletal problems. In this instance, electrodes are placed on the body to conduct heat from a machine, so that the heat can be directed to specific areas, usually on the back. Diathermy is simply a high-tech way to deliver heat In a targeted way.

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is a generic term for any type of water therapy, which has been well-studied for centuries and which many people find therapeutic. Your chiropractor may recommend hydrotherapy in the form of baths, wraps, or saunas.

Ultrasound therapy

Ultrasound therapy directs ultrasonic waves at the body to relieve muscle tension, stiffness, and pain. Like electrical muscular stimulation, ultrasound therapy is also used in conventional medicine. You may have had ultrasound therapy if you've ever visited a sports medicine doctor.

Laser treatment

Laser treatment is a newer therapy that, as the name implies, uses lasers directed at very small areas of the body. Because lasers can be adjusted to direct a pulse of light within fractions of an inch, laser treatment is highly targeted therapy for tough-to-reach areas, especially joints.

Adjustment tables

Chiropractors have been using adjustment tables for decades, much like massage therapists. However, new adjustment tables have features that allow chiropractors to not only make patients more comfortable but to improve their treatment. Some tables are equipped with special rollers, while others allow chiropractors to measure adjustments within a very small range for highly specific treatment.

Computerized adjustment

In addition to computerized adjustment tables, there are handheld adjustment tools that chiropractors can use that also allow them to make adjustments within a minute range of measurement. The benefit of computerized adjustment, when used properly, is that your chiropractor can provide just the amount of adjustment that you need without over manipulating the body, thereby reducing the risk of injury.

Many of the above technologies are very well studied within traditional medicine, so we know that when used properly, they work. If your chiropractor suggests using one of these diagnostic or treatment elements for you, ask why and what the benefits are. While they may cost extra, in addition to enhanced treatment, you may be getting the benefit of well-researched technology, so you can rest assured that your treatment will be as effective as possible for your particular condition.

Personal Response

Of course, your personal response to chiropractic treatment is the most important determinant of whether it works or not. If you respond well to chiropractic care, it works for you. If you experience any negative effects from chiropractic, it's important to tell your chiropractor right away. If your chiropractor is not responsive to your complaints, it's time to find a new practitioner or to perhaps use a different treatment method.

Be sure to give your chiropractic treatments long enough to work. In most cases, chiropractic isn't an instant fix for what's bothering you, and you will need to have at least several treatments to experience relief. Because progress can be slow sometimes, it can be hard to tell if you're getting better. So, it can be helpful to keep a log or journal, noting your symptoms and even using a pain scale of one to 10 to see if you're feeling better. You may find that, as the weeks go on, you are indeed experiencing less pain or other symptoms.

In Summary

Just like with conventional medicine, chiropractic offers a wide range of services given by practitioners with varying degrees of skill, education, and technology. To see if chiropractic might be the right therapy for you, get in touch with True Spine Chiropractic today. We will answer your questions about chiropractic care and tell you about how our particular methods might benefit your condition. Does seeing a chiropractor really work? You may want to try it for yourself to see.

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