Chiropractic Care & Treatment – 5 Common Myths
Chiropractic care is a safe & natural option for treating pain, and it provides an excellent approach for supporting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you’re skeptical about visiting a chiropractor, take a moment to dive deeper into these five common myths surrounding chiropractic care and instead learn the truth about the benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments and spinal manipulation.
Myth 1: Chiropractors Aren’t ‘Real’ Doctors
Chiropractic school is not only rigorous, but it is also virtually identical to medical school.
The premedical prerequisites to get into chiropractic school are the same as medical school, which involves a full year of biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, organic chemistry, as well as a year of labs. As a result, most chiropractors have a four-year undergraduate degree in a science field before entering chiropractic school.
Attending traditional medical school and chiropractic school is also very similar, with the primary difference being that medical students will complete residency programs while chiropractors enter internship programs.
After completing undergrad, chiropractic school entails two additional years of classroom study followed by a third year consisting of both classroom study and clinical experience. The fourth and final year is all clinical.
Once students graduate from chiropractic school, they must pass four sets of national board exams which are heavily weighted on diagnostic and practical skills, as well as state board exams in the states where they wish to practice.
While it is true that a chiropractor doesn’t prescribe medication or perform surgery, it certainly doesn’t disqualify them as a “real” doctor. Chiropractors are officially known as Doctors of Chiropractic, and are without question experts in their field.
When it comes to neurology, alignment, and musculoskeletal disorders, Doctors of Chiropractic are more thoroughly trained than any of those other “real doctors.” Chiropractors spend years extensively learning about one thing and one thing only—musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction—making them the ideal portal-of-entry provider for musculoskeletal disorders.
Myth 2: Chiropractors “Crack” Backs
Many people fear chiropractic because they imagine horrible cracking movements that occur from a sudden and unexpected blow. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The word crack itself implies breakage. A chiropractor isn’t cracking anything. Chiropractors are adjusting, aligning and manipulating, and a good chiropractor will communicate each step with you before the adjustment and as the adjustment occurs.
About 60 percent of the time, patients will hear a cavitation, a popping or clicking sound, which is simply a release of gas from the joint spaces. The cavitation is not the adjustment itself, but rather a byproduct of the alignment.
There are a variety of techniques utilized for adjustments, varying from gentle touch to hand manipulation to the use of retracting tables. Not every type is right for every patient, which is why a skilled chiropractor will take the time to listen to your concerns, understand the root of your problem, and develop an individualized course of treatment that is best suited for you.
Myth 3: Chiropractors Only Help with Back Pain
Your spine is without doubt one of the most important parts of your body, but chiropractic care extends further than the spine alone.
The doctor may employ a variety of specific techniques to adjust and manipulate other joints such as the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, and knees. Some conditions that affect the extremities that can be treated with chiropractic include plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, impingement syndromes, and TMJ.
It is also important to remember that the nerves originate in the brain and innervate through the spine. This means that if there is pressure on the spine, and consequently, the nerves, the symptoms can present elsewhere in the body.
For example, if you suffer from headaches, chiropractors will take care to examine the top cervical vertebra (called the atlas) to make sure it is positioned properly. If this particular vertebra is not aligned properly, it could create or increase the likelihood of these chronic headaches.
This is why chiropractors do all the necessary tests, exams, and imaging to first determine where the pain is actually originating from and then design treatment plans to address them.
Myth 4: Chiropractic Adjustments Are Dangerous
A common myth of chiropractic adjustment is that it can cause a stroke. According to one study, the odds of a hemorrhagic of stroke in the normal population, chiropractic patient or not, is 1 in 5.85 million people.
The truth is, neck adjustments cause no more stress to the arteries in the neck than any normal range of motion exercise. When performed by licensed and experienced Doctors of Chiropractic, spinal manipulation and adjustments are safe practices that help to restore your body to its natural flexibility and mobility while relieving pain, soreness, and stiffness in the joints and muscles. In addition, because adjustments and manipulations are a natural, alternative approach to a problem, chiropractic is much safer than surgery or the use of opioids. Surgery is rarely effective for musculoskeletal problems, while painkillers only mask the pain as opposed to solving the root of the problem.
Myth 5: Once you start chiropractic care, you’ll have to continue to go for the rest of your life
Chiropractors do hope you continue to return, but it’s not for their benefit. Better health is a holistic lifestyle, and chiropractic is a part of that.
When you wait to visit a chiropractor when you are in severe pain, there is already a problem. The chiropractor will then work to treat not just the symptom, but to discover the underlying cause. The number of visits per month needed will depend on your unique case—it could be once a week, whereas others might need as frequent as twice a week. Once the underlying problem is fixed and you start to feel better, this is not where chiropractic visits should end.
Future visits are in place to continue to strengthen and support your body, so you are able to maintain that “feel good” phase without slipping back into the same habits and routines that landed you in pain in the first place.
Just as you would jog a few times a week to maintain cardiovascular health or schedule routine dental visits to protect your teeth, chiropractic care is one more piece of the puzzle for maintaining a healthy body and healthy lifestyle.
Dispelling Chiropractic Care Doubts
Millions of Americans have experienced meaningful pain relief and wellness benefits from chiropractic care.
If you think you could potentially benefit from chiropractic care, it is important to take the time and effort to choose the right chiropractor, just as you would for any healthcare professional. To learn more about our unique and holistic approach to chiropractic treatment at Advanced Spine and Sports Care, as well as what to expect during your first visit, click here. We’re here to help.
E.W. Church et al., “Systematic review and meta-analysis of chiropractic care and cervical artery dissection: no evidence for causation,” Cureus 8, no. 2 (February 16, 2016): https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.498.