A Beginner’s Guide to Navigating the World of Chiropractic
If you’ve ever moved to a new town or city, you’ve probably had the thrilling yet terrifying realization that you basically, to some extent, get to “start over”. You get to choose a new grocery store, a new gym, new friends, your new favorite coffee shop…the list goes on. I’ve moved cities enough times to know that this is equal parts exciting and overwhelming. Why? Because there are so many dang choices out there, and if you’re like me, you want to make the most out of your time and money. And some of these choices involve less risk than others. For example, it’s usually not too intimidating to try out a new coffee shop. You can go in and out as you please, buy a $4 cup of coffee, and if you hate it, well, then you’re out four bucks and a few minutes of your time. On the other hand, if you try out a new hair stylist who butchers your hair, well, that’s a different story. Some choices involve more risk, more time, and more dollars.
I personally feel this way about healthcare and think that navigating the healthcare system is one of the most overwhelming tasks out there. There are SO many options, the financial investment can be significant, and it involves decisions surrounding some of the most precious things we have—our health and our bodies.
Since chiropractic/rehab is my own little corner within the healthcare world, and since it’s such an unknown and misunderstood topic for a lot of people, I’ve compiled a brief guide on how to make an informed decision about if chiropractic is right for you and how to select the best option for your specific needs/goals.
CONSIDERING CHIROPRACTIC? START HERE:
- STEP 1: How do you even know if you should see a chiropractor? Start by determining if your pain/injury/discomfort is a chiropractic issue. And how do you do this? It’s pretty simple. Most chiropractors (and PTs) treat non-emergent pain related to muscles, joints, and nerves. What I mean by this is you shouldn’t go to a chiropractor for a broken bone, a joint dislocation, torn ACL, or ruptured Achilles—those usually constitute a visit to the emergency room or an orthopedic surgeon. But you SHOULD go if you’ve had nagging back pain, sciatica, knee pain, muscle tension, or basically any other non-traumatic aches & pains.
- STEP 2: Decide what your specific goals are. Are you looking for a quick fix? Long-term results? Is your goal simply to be out of pain, or do you want to move and perform better also? Are you wanting to stay healthy through your pregnancy, eliminate migraines, rehab a shoulder issue from a football injury, reduce neck and shoulder tension from your desk job? Every person has a different reason for seeking care.
- STEP 3: Select a practitioner based on those specific goals. There are SO many different kinds of chiropractors out there: sports chiropractors, women’s-health focused chiropractors, pediatric & family chiropractors, TMJ specialists—heck, there are even animal chiropractors. Choosing a doctor who aligns with your specific needs will help set you up for success from the get-go. But REGARDLESS of your specific goals, there are some key things you should look for no matter what kind of chiropractor you see.
4 THINGS TO EXPECT FROM YOUR CHIROPRACTOR:
- First and foremost, your chiropractor should take the time to EDUCATE you—on your specific pain, what’s causing it, what they plan to do to help you, roughly how long they anticipate it to take, and what to expect along the way.
- Next, you should receive a TAILORED treatment plan specific to your needs. Be very leery of cookie cutter treatment plans!!! There is no “plug & chug” formula for pain and injuries, and if you are not receiving care that is specific to you and that has room for adaptation and change along the way, you are probably not in the right place. For example, neck pain from sitting at a desk all day should be treated vastly different from neck pain from an overhead weightlifting injury.
- Your plan should progress as you progress!! If you do the same thing every single time at your appointments, you are likely not getting the most out of your care. Your clinician should constantly be re-evaluating and adapting strategies with the goal of returning you to functionality and to your specific sport/activity/lifestyle.
- Another big one is emphasis on active care over passive care. Put simply, your clinician should be giving you tools to help treat and manage your pain largely on your own. This might consist of at-home exercises, dietary suggestions, and/or other lifestyle modifications. After all, no one should care about your health more than you. You are ultimately in control, and you should be given the education and tools to maximize that control. Passive care, on the other hand, includes treatments where things are done to you without any participation on your end: adjustments, dry needling, e-stim, ice/heat, etc. These things are certainly valuable but should not be the ONLY treatment methods used. Ideally there should be a combination of hands-on techniques with active care strategies.
Keep in mind it is 100% okay (and encouraged) to shop around! Just because you go somewhere once doesn’t mean you have to keep going there if you weren’t satisfied with your experience. Call, ask questions, visit websites & social media, read reviews, etc. before making your decision.
As someone who has experienced my own frustrations navigating the healthcare field, I understand how exhausting it can be. I am passionate about changing the way people perceive and consume chiropractic as well as making healthcare more cost-effective and accessible. And as much as I would love to be able to help everyone, the truth is, not everyone is a good fit for my office. That is normal and okay! Thankfully I have an awesome network of providers in Lincoln who have different niches and skill sets than I do, and I’m always more than happy to make a referral to get you where you can receive the best possible care. The more we can work together this way, the better off our healthcare system will be.
If you still have questions about chiropractic and whether or not it’s right for you, visit the contact tab and shoot me a message or give me a call. I’d love to connect and answer any questions you may have.