Frequently Asked Questions
Over the years we have been asked lots of questions about Chiropractic. Here are some of them
and some simple answers. Don't forget that the answers have to be general, but we would really like the opportunity to talk
with you personally about the issues, and provide personal answers to your particular questions. Drop in and see us.
What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts which is based upon the understanding that good health depends, in part, upon
a normally functioning nervous system (especially the spine, and the nerves extending from the spine to all parts of the body).
"Chiropractic" comes from the Greek word chiropraktikos, meaning "effective treatment by hand." Chiropractic stresses
the idea that the cause of many disease processes begins with the body's inability to adapt to its environment. It looks to
address these diseases not by the use of drugs and chemicals, but by locating and adjusting a musculoskeletal area of the
body which is functioning improperly.
Chiropractic is a natural healing art that developed from the research and clinical work done by Dr. D.D. Palmer in 1895,
in Davenport, Iowa. Since then, Chiropractic has grown to the second largest primary healing art in the United States. Doctors
of Chiropractic are now licensed in all 50 States and most Western Nations. The State of New Hampshire has been licensing
Doctors of Chiropractic since 1923.
Chiropractic is based on three basic principals:
- Disease may be caused by irritation of the nervous system.
- Irritation of the nervous system may be caused by alterations of the musculoskeletal system. These alterations are typically
misalignments and/or dysfunctions of the joints of the spine and the related structures. In Chiropractic, these are referred
to as subluxations.
- Correction of subluxations, and the subsequent relief of nervous system irritation, may reduce or eliminate disease in
various parts or functions of the body.
Chiropractors relieve the body of subluxations. Although they usually focus on the spinal column, Chiropractors can evaluate
and treat the entire nervous, muscular and skeletal systems for such dysfunctions. Free of subluxations, your body is more
balanced, has improved function, and can deal with the daily physical and emotional stresses of your life.
The conditions which doctors of chiropractic address are as varied and as vast as the nervous system itself. All chiropractors
use a standard procedure of examination to diagnose a patient's condition and arrive at a course of treatment. Doctors of
chiropractic use the same time-honored methods of consultation, case history, physical examination, laboratory analysis and
x-ray examination as any other doctor. In addition, they provide a careful chiropractic structural examination, paying particular
attention to the spine.
The examination of the spine to evaluate structure and function is what makes chiropractic different from other health
care procedures. Your spinal column is a series of movable bones which begin at the base of your skull and end in the center
of your hips. Thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves extend down the spine from the brain and exit through a series of openings.
The nerves leave the spine and form a complicated network which influences every living tissue in your body.
Accidents, falls, stress, tension, overexertion, and countless other factors can result in a displacements or derangements
of the spinal column, causing irritation to spinal nerve roots. These irritations are often what cause malfunctions in the
human body. Chiropractic teaches that reducing or eliminating this irritation to spinal nerves can cause your body to operate
more efficiently and more comfortably.
Chiropractic also places an emphasis on nutritional and exercise programs, wellness and lifestyle modifications for promoting
physical and mental health. While chiropractors make no use of drugs or surgery, Doctors of chiropractic do refer patients
for medical care when those interventions are indicated. In fact, chiropractors, medical doctors, physical therapists and
other health care professionals now work as partners in occupational health, sports medicine, and a wide variety of other
For more information please visit: ACC Chiropractic Paradigm.
Why does my vertebrae "crack" when you are doing an adjustment?
This topic is the subject of much professional debate. Some people have naturally cracking joints others make no noise
at all. Many people are in between. The Chiropractic adjustment is a concentrate form of exercise that is usually given to
those joints that are stiff and restricted in their movement. Sometimes there is a calcium buildup on the joint surface called
exostoses. That is like a rusty hinge and makes noise when it is moved. Some joints have developed adhesions where the tissue
has grown together. This can make a cracking noise when moved. Some joints when stretched make a popping sound like a suction
cup when released. One thing we do know is that while there may be some noise with the adjustment usually there is no pain.
The pain has usually occurred at the time of the injury. Research also shows the more movement a joint has the healthier it
is. Stiff joints lead to osteoarthritis.
Is it necessary to do anything to prepare for an appointment?
Usually no. The Doctors will tell you what to do at the time they see you. It always helps to arrive a little early for
you appointment to relax. If your schedule is busy, be sure to tell the receptionist so that we can give you every consideration.
It also helps to wear loose clothing for ease of movement. Tell the Doctor of all injuries that you have even though they
may be in places other than your back.
If I hurt myself between visits what can I do?
Find a position that is comfortable and stay in it. Then call us straight away or have a friend call. We will give you
the advice that will be most applicable in your circumstance.
Are there any tips on back care?
Yes, always think about what you do before you do it. The most difficult thing people can do is think. This one action
will prevent so many injuries. Next hint is if you don't feel confident in doing something, get some help. Remember "Pride
comes before the Fall." Last hint is not to make yourself tired. Fatigue causes most injuries. Never trust your back. Once
an injury has occurred studies show it will happen again.
Will you fix the problem right away?
Our Doctors will do our best to provide the most effective treatment possible with each visit. Usually most patients
feel better after each visit. To better evaluate our care we usually determine a trial period we feel will be the most responsive
for your care. It is always better not to delay your care to obtain best results.
At what age should I start coming?
You can come in at any age. Our youngest patient was only a few hours old. Spinal trauma is not unusual even with a normal
birth. Gentle techniques are used for both the infant and the mother. Our oldest patient is 96, has less pain and is much
more alert after his adjustment. Different techniques are used to help different age groups.
Do you give advice on what exercises that I should do?
Yes. Once your structural system is balanced a specific exercise program is recommended to maintain the results and strengthen
How does Chiropractic differ from physiotherapy?
Chiropractors are Doctors, Physiotherapists are therapists. Very few Physiotherapists are in private practice or are members
of the Manipulative Therapists Specialty. Chiropractors have an holistic approach to health care that prioritizes the irritation
of the nervous system as a major cause of structural imbalance. Chiropractors balance your structure for improved performance.
Physiotherapists often use machines, stretching or exercises to relieve the pain. Studies show that there are two reasons
your back pain will last longer. One is the length of time you have left it before seeking help. The other is if you have
seen a Physiotherapist. Exercise has been found to be useless for acute back pain.
When did all this Chiropractic stuff begin?
Chiropractic began in 1895 in Davenport, Iowa, USA. Dr. Daniel David Palmer, a Magnetic Healer, discovered a vertebrae
out of position in the back of his deaf Janitor Harvey Lillard. He repositioned (adjusted) the malpositioned vertebrae (subluxation)
and Harvey's hearing was restored. Palmer then taught other Medical Doctors and Osteopaths his discovery. They claimed it
was superior to all other manual techniques of the time. Its unique feature was the spine's relationship to the nervous system.
Palmer discovered a new theory of health balance. Dr. Palmer had an inquisitive mind and was a voracious reader constantly
updating his discovery. His son BJ Palmer perpetuated the development of the theories. The grandson David Palmer expanded
the educational facilities of the school. His great granddaughter is the current chairman of the board of the Palmer University.
What Causes The Sound Of An Adjustment?
Actually, not all adjusting techniques produce the sound associated with "popping knuckles." Some create no sound at all,
some a little. Many techniques, however, do create the sound of a spinal "release." What causes it? The mystery may have been
solved by a British research team that took x-ray movies of people "popping" their knuckles. The sound is caused by gas rushing
in to fill the partial vacuum created when the joints are slightly separated.
Do Chiropractors Have Medical (M.D.) Degrees?
Chiropractors have Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degrees granted from chiropractic colleges. Chiropractic education and
medical education are similar in some respects and different in others because chiropractors do not prescribe drugs and medical
doctors do not correct the vertebral subluxation complex (spinal nerve stress).
Do Chiropractors Believe In Medicine And Surgery?
Certainly, as Norman Cousins says: "There are times when intervention in the form of medicine or surgery is absolutely
necessary but there is never a time when the nourishment one puts into one's body or one's mind is not essential to health."
Chiropractors would add spinal care to Mr. Cousins' observation.
Do Chiropractors Work In Hospitals?
Today chiropractors have privileges in many hospitals. (Who needs healthy spines more than people facing life threatening
diseases?) The presence of D.C.s in hospitals is a welcome beginning — hopefully paving the way toward making drugless,
natural methods of chiropractic care available to all hospital patients.
Is Chiropractic care safe?
Chiropractic care is safe enough to be of use for your newborn infant as well as for your 90 year old grandmother!
Researcher A. Terrett, in a review of literature between 1934 and 1994, found Chiropractic to be the safest in the delivery
of vertebral manipulation.
The risk of death from using NSAIDS (i.e.,: ibuprofen) is 400 times the risk from manipulation, when performed by a Chiropractor.
Chiropractors are the musculoskeletal specialists, with the greatest degree of education and experience in this field.
In an evaluation of musculoskeletal competency, 82% of Medical Graduates fail to demonstrate basic competency.¹
85 Residents who graduated from 37 Medical schools were tested:
43% of Orthopedic Residents Failed
87% of Medical Residents
82% of Surgical Residents Failed
¹ Freedman KB, Bernstein J., "The Inadequacy of Medical School Education in Musculoskeletal Medicine."
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 80-A:1421-1427. Oct. 1998.
Is Chiropractic care effective?
Chiropractic care has been evaluated extensively over the past fifty years to determine it's safety and effectiveness
for spinal conditions. In fact, no other health care modality has been researched to the extent as has been done to evaluate
Chiropractic effectiveness for low back pain relief. Although the majority of Chiropractic research has been in regard to
low back pain, current research is providing evidence of a myriad of other health benefits.
The "Agency for Health Care Policy & Research (AHCPR) Guidelines on Acute Low Back Problems," a report from the Federally
funded agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, found Chiropractic care of acute low back pain to be
safe, more effective than pharmaceutical therapies or surgery, and less costly than drugs or surgery.
A report from T. W. Mead, et. al., entitled "Low back pain of mechanical origin: Randomized comparison of Chiropractic
and hospital outpatient treatment," which was published in the British Medical Journal in 1990, concluded that:
"Our trial showed that Chiropractic is a very effective treatment, more effective than conventional hospital out-patient
treatment for low-back pain, particularly in patients who had back pain in the past and who got severe problems. So in other
words, it is most effective in precisely the group of patients that you would like to be able to treat...One of the unexpected
findings was that the treatment differences—the benefit of Chiropractic over hospital treatment—actually persists
for the whole of that three-year period...it looks as though the treatment that the Chiropractors give does something that
results in a very long-term benefit."
Is Chiropractic care expensive?
Not at all! Several studies have demonstrated the cost effectiveness of Chiropractic in relation to other forms of care
for the same conditions. Chiropractic care repeatedly proves to be cheaper than other treatment methods.
In a report by S. Wolk, "Chiropractic vs. Medical Care: A Cost Analysis of Disability and Treatment for Back-Related Workers'
Compensation Cases," the cost of Chiropractic care was only 55% and 56% of Medical care for nonsurgical and surgical patients,
¹ Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research, 1988.
P.S. Ebral studied mechanical low back pain cases, and found that, on the average, those receiving Chiropractic care only
lost 6.26 days of work and paid $392 for care, as compared to those receiving Medical care who lost 25.56 days of work and
paid $1,569 for care.²
² Ebral, P.S., "Mechanical Low-Back Pain: A Comparison of Medical and Chiropractic Management within the Victorian
Work Care Scheme," Chiropractic Journal of Australia. 22(2):47-53. 1992
Who can receive Chiropractic care?
Anyone with a spine! Chiropractic care is a safe and effective way of treating people of all ages and walks of life.
We care for spines from 2 days to 102 years old. Infants, children, adolescents, expecting mothers, middle aged or elderly,
all spines need proper care.
Occasionally, someone presents to our office with a condition that would prohibit us from treating them Chiropractically,
but this is a rare occurrence. Since each case and condition should be evaluated and treated independently, it is best to
discuss your options with the Chiropractor directly.
Who is using Chiropractic?
- 73% of adults say that they would use chiropractic. ¹
- 67% of adults say that alternative care inclusion is important in choosing a health plan. ¹
- 31% of adults say that it is very important. ¹
- 42% with annual incomes of less than $20,000 say that it is very important. ¹
- Usage of Chiropractic care had DOUBLED in the last 15-20 years.
- 42% of the US population have sought alternative care. ¹
- 74% of those using alternative forms of care, including Chiropractic, use it along with traditional care. ¹
- 30% of users of alternative health care experienced a decrease in the number of visits to their MDs. ¹
- 31% (61 million) of all adult Americans have visited a Chiropractor in the last 12 months. ³
¹ The Landmark Report on Public Perceptions of Alternative Care, Landmark Healthcare, Inc. 1998.
² Chiropractic in the United States: Training, Practice, and Research. Agency for Health Care Policy and
Research, publication 98-N002, 1997.
³ Dynamic Chiropractic, "Chiropractic Use Going Up!", 16(5), 1998.
Will I need X-rays?
Not necessarily! A lot of people assume that all Chiropractors
x-ray all their patients all the time. This couldn't be further from the truth.
X-rays are a means of diagnostic evaluation. As with other diagnostic tools, they are necessary in some cases, not necessary
in others, and contra-indicated in a few.
We have the facilities to take X-rays, if necessary, in our clinic, however, we only take them if they are indicated.
We NEVER x-ray a woman we know or suspect to be pregnant!
We SELDOM x-ray anyone under the age of 18 years old.
We AVOID x-raying nursing women if possible.
Although x-rays are deemed safe, excessive exposure can be harmful to the body. For this reason, we impose various restrictions
on our use of this form of diagnosis.
Since every case is unique, it is best to discuss your concerns about x-rays with the Doctor.
How long will I have to be under care?
That all depends on you. Every case, every condition, every person we see is
different. There is no magical formula to determine how long a patient will need care or how much care must be rendered.
We treat all of our patients on an individual basis, determining your response to care and what follow-up is required
at each visit. As your body responds and changes, your treatment type and schedule are altered for the greatest results. Like
you, we want to see fast, long-lasting results because we take pride in our work.
In order to speed yourself along in the healing process, you can take several steps in your daily life.
- Rest. The body requires energy to heal. Allowing for enough rest and avoiding over exertion
helps the body provide the necessary energy.
- Eat well. If a mason doesn't have enough bricks, he cannot build a wall. Likewise, if you don't
provide the proper building blocks, your body cannot complete its task.
- Drink plenty of water. It's the single most important element in your body...need we say more?
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs and excessive physical activity.
- Limit stress/relax.
- Follow the Doctor's instructions.
- Over all...Be Patient! Healing takes time. Chances are, it took long time for you to get this
way...It will take time to get better.
Could I become addicted to Chiropractic?
If you mean "Could I get addicted to a feeling of wellness and health, in which my body functions at the greatest possible
level, where I have more energy, strength and stamina, and am able to perform my daily activities in the safest and most efficient
manner?" Then...yes, you may never want to stop.
But if you are referring to the over used adage, "Once you go to a Chiropractor, you have to keep going forever," then
the answer is a firm, "NO".
Those who choose to make Chiropractic a long-term or life-long addition to their personal health habits do so, primarily,
as a form of preventative health care, much like a healthy diet or exercise.
There is nothing about Chiropractic treatments/adjustments that would cause a need for extended care. On the contrary,
research has shown that the benefits of Chiropractic care are longer lasting than those achieved by Medical care for some
conditions. (See "Is Chiropractic care effective?")
Couldn't I just "crack" my own back/neck? (Or have a friend do it for me?)
Anyone can move bones. Anyone can make joints "pop". Not just anyone can do it right.
Chiropractors have extensive, specialized training in the art, science and philosophy associated with spinal manipulation.
The sensation of tightness, restriction or pain that you are feeling in your back or neck is caused by a jammed or fixated
bone (vertebra) or joint. Often, this fixated joint is accompanied by one or more joints that moves too much (hypermobile),
as a compensation. When you, or a friend, "crack" or "pop" your spine, you are introducing a force and a motion into a series
of bones. Without the proper control of this force, it will tend to be taken up by the hypermobile joints, since they are
easier to move. The fixated joint stays fixed... the hypermobile joints are forced to move even more. Not only does the problem
remain... it gets worse.
"But I feel better when I crack my neck (back)." — Research shows that the mobilization of joints, whether they
need it or not, causes the body to release special pain killing compounds, known as endorphins and enkephlins, which cause
a brief period of euphoria and pain relief. If the proper correction is not performed, the pain returns when the 'pain killers'
wear off. That's why most self-adjusters need to "crack" themselves more and more all the time, until they do it every few
minutes. The more they do it, the worse they get, the more they need to do it...
When a Chiropractor performs an adjustment, he/she controls the force/motion to alleviate the fixated joint, without
applying undue stress or strain to joints that are already moving enough or too much. This is why a Chiropractic student has
over a thousand hours of training specifically in manipulation techniques. Add to that the years of experience that the Doctors
of Avard Chiropractic Centers have, and you have a level of care that you cannot easily match.
Can a Chiropractor treat someone after back surgery?
Absolutely! Not only is it possible for your Chiropractor to treat you after surgery, it is recommended in most cases.
Surgery traumatically alters the natural structures of the body. Like other forms of trauma, the typical process is for
scar tissue to develop, biomechanics to be altered, and supportive tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons and cartilage) to
become compromised. Chiropractic care helps to maintain the highest degree of function in the tissues and joints surrounding
the surgical site. Although the body needs time to heal after surgery, visiting a Chiropractor regularly may help to prevent
future problems from developing.
What is the Chiropractic Philosophy?
The chiropractic perspective on health and disease emphasizes two fundamental concepts:
- The structure and condition of the body influences how the body functions and its ability to heal itself; and
- The mind-body relationship is instrumental in maintaining health and in the healing processes.
Although chiropractic shares much with other health professions, its emphasis and application of philosophy distinguishes
it from modern medicine. Chiropractic philosophy gravitates toward a holistic ("total person") approach to healing which combines
elements of the mind, body and spirit and maintains that health depends on obedience to natural laws, and that deviation from
such laws can result in illness.
Chiropractic Philosophy includes:
- emphasis on patient recuperative abilities rather than surgery
- recognition that dynamics exist between lifestyle, environment and health
- understanding the cause of illness in order to eliminate it, rather than simply treat symptoms
- recognition of the centrality of the nervous system and its intimate relationship with the capacities of the human body
- balancing benefits versus risks of clinical interventions
- recognition of the primary importance of monitoring progress closely through appropriate diagnostic procedures
- a patient-centered, hands-on approach focused on influencing function through structure
- focus on early intervention emphasizing timely diagnosis and treatment of conditions that are wholly functional and reversible
Chiropractic philosophy blends an effective combination of conviction, critical thinking, open-mindedness, and appreciation
of the natural order of things. Chiropractic focuses on the establishment and maintenance of a relationship between patients
and their environment which is most conducive to functional well-being.
What Other Types Of Health Problems Are Related To The Spine?
Chiropractic methods have been used over the last hundred years to help millions of people achieve better health naturally.
While best known for its effectiveness in reducing back pain, chiropractic has also proven effective in a variety of health
maladies. The following Pain Pattern and Dysfunction outline will help you to see how the nerve system can affect many more
health problems that commonly assumed. This is because nerves do not merely receive pain impulses, though that is one of their
many functions; nerves also carry the impulses from the brain to the various organs, glands and systems of the body. When
the spinal column becomes mis-aligned it can cause pressure on the delicate nerves and interfere with the normal transmission
of nerve impulses coming from the brain and traveling out to the body parts:
Pain Patterns & Dysfunction
Region of Pain
Headaches, Migraines, Sinus Trouble, Dizziness, Vertigo
Numbness in Hands and Fingers, Stiffness In Shoulders and Elbows,
Upper Back Pain
Tiredness and Fatigue, Shortness of Breath Blood Pressure Fluctuations
Middle Back Pain
Digestive Problems, Bloating, Belching, Gall Bladder Problems,
Lower Back Pain
Leg Pain, Burning Feet, Hip Pain, Fluid Retention, Sexual
This is a rough guide that is fascinating to put into use when speaking with friends, family and clients. Many who might be
helped by visiting the chiropractor may never have considered that it might help them with the conditions listed above. Your
referral and recommendation is greatly appreciated!
Do Chiropractors just fix backaches?
No. Chiropractors use the spine to access the nervous system. The nervous system controls and coordinates all other systems
of the body. The first Chiropractic adjustment was given to a patient who was deaf. His hearing was restored. The second patient
suffered from angina (heart pain). It was resolved. Chiropractic care began as a form of practice for just about any condition
a patient suffered. Chiropractors became known in later years as back doctors because of their approach. Back care only is
a very limited attitude to Chiropractic. Research shows Chiropractors help headaches, migraine, neck pain, stomach ulcers,
infant colic, middle ear pain, premenstrual pain, improved immune function, improved brain function, better vision, ankles,
hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists etc.
Is Chiropractic Care Addictive?
If only it were (just a little!), there'd be a lot less sick people around and we chiropractors wouldn't get patients who
last saw a chiropractor "a few years ago when my back went out." It is possible to get used to feeling more balanced, less
stressed, and more energetic as a result of periodic chiropractic care. You may become more sensitive to your body and know
when you've "lost" your adjustment.
Is Chiropractic Safe?
Yes. Having your spinal nerve stress corrected is important, no matter what other type of health care you are receiving.
Today many D.C.s and M.D.s are working together in clinics and on joint research projects. M.D.s are quite likely to have
patients who are under chiropractic care, in fact many see a D.C. themselves.
Can Spines Automatically Go Back In Place?
Yes. There are verified instances of blind people recovering eyesight after a fall, of individuals able to walk again
after their wheelchair was thrown, and of amnesiacs who remember their past after receiving a trauma — these are examples
of "accidental adjustments" in which a trauma accidentally realigned the spine. A visit to the chiropractor is a lot safer.
Also, many types of therapy, including massage and various body work can reduce musculo-skeletal stress, sometimes permitting
the spine to automatically realign, as will cathartic emotional release. Occasionally, even a good night's sleep can release
At What Age Should Chiropractic Begin?
Newborns have received spinal adjustments especially after difficult or traumatic births.
Can Chiropractic Prevent Back Surgery?
In a majority of cases the answer is a resounding "Yes."
Can A Person Who Had Back Surgery See A Chiropractor?
Yes. It's an unfortunate fact that half of those who had spinal surgery discover a return of their original symptoms months
or years later. They then face the prospect of additional surgery. This too common occurrence is known as "Failed Back Surgery
Syndrome." Chiropractic may help prevent repeated operations.
I'm Not Sick. Should I See A Chiropractor?
Yes. Symptoms are not a good way to judge health. They sometimes surface only after years of body malfunction (like a
How Often Should I Get A Spinal Adjustment?
The answer is " as soon as you develop spinal nerve stress." But since spinal nerve stress is often painless, it's good
to get your spine checked periodically, as you get your teeth checked periodically for "painless" cavities.
How Long Will I Need To See A Chiropractor To Get Results?
While it is impossible to predict exactly how long your condition will take to get better, our experience shows that most
will respond favorably within 4 treatment sessions. Although complete recovery may take longer, if no discernable clinical
improvement is obvious by the end of the initial 4 treatments, referral to another specialist is typically advised. Our office
enjoys a high level of patient satisfaction because we offer each client choices and explain our procedures and fees in advance.