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Want to Know More About What a Chiropractor Does? We’ve Got Your Back

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Chiropractor-doing-an-adjustment-on-patient

Ask what a chiropractor does and most people will probably say, “it has something to do with your back” or “they make your spine create a popping sound.” But chiropractors must be something special, or why else would 35 million Americans see one each year?

Find out all about chiropractors and spinal adjustments with our guide, put together with the help of Dr. Christopher Wolcott, a board-certified chiropractor who’s been in practice for more than a decade. Trust us, he’s racked up some seriously good Yelp reviews in that time.

We chatted with him about everything you could possibly want to know, so keep reading before booking your first (or fifth) appointment.

Ready to book with a back specialist? Find Groupon offers on chiropractic adjustments near you.

What is a Chiropractor?

We’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but when you throw your back out, it probably doesn’t help to lie on a hard floor. More often than not, you’re going to need to see a chiropractor.

The definition of a chiropractor is someone who treats the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes a patient’s bones, nerves, ligaments, muscles and tendons. In general, they tackle back or neck pain.

A chiropractor does this through “spinal manipulation,” also known as a chiropractic adjustment, which involves a quick burst of pressure applied either with a specialist instrument, or with the chiropractor’s hands. 

Treatment can be done slowly so the muscles clench in a “guarding response,” or quickly to improve the targeted joint’s range of motion. 

Chiropractors may also use:

  • Heating or cooling treatments
  • Laser therapy
  • Stretching or strengthening exercises 
  • Electric stimulation

That last one relaxes muscles with what Dr. Wolcott describes as “a soothing zap.”

What are some benefits of seeing a chiropractor?

Close-up of a doctor moving a patient's knee.

Some of the chiropractic care benefits you may receive include:

  • Relieving pain For many patients, a key reason to seek out chiropractic care is for back pain. Spinal pain and headaches are most common, and spinal manipulation can also be carried out by a chiropractor for lower back pain.
  • Treating disease – Some people visit Dr. Wolcott for “musculoskeletal and nervous-system diseases” that are causing them discomfort. Dr. Wolcott explains that chiropractors can treat nervous-system issues that present as wrist pain, or shooting pains down an arm or a leg.
  • Enhanced immunity One interesting potential benefit of chiropractic adjustments could be an improved immune system. This is due to the link between how well aligned the spine is and a well-functioning body. A misaligned vertebrae could affect your body’s signals to the brain, which might mean you’re more at risk of getting an illness.
  • Improved wellbeing and increased energy – Some people find that chiropractic treatment can improve their general wellbeing. So you may also find that your energy levels increase via benefitting from less pain, better sleep and a healthier central nervous system. 

What are the different types of chiropractic adjustments?

Depending on which problem area you are trying to treat, there are a number of chiropractic methods — each with their own specialisms. 

  • Gonstead adjustment – This hands-on approach consists of analyzing and realigning the spine in order to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Wellness chiropractic – This focuses on increasing overall well-being, as a healthy central nervous system can provide you with a whole host of amazing benefits.
  • Direct thrust technique – This is the most common technique used by chiropractors. It involves a quick thrust to align the spine, with the aim of improving joint functions.
  • Spinal mobilization – Works towards the same outcome as the previous technique, but focuses on gentler movements and stretching.
  • Drop Technique – Also known as the Thompson Terminal Point, the Drop Technique uses specialized “drop” equipment to ease joint movement. This often includes tables with various sections that drop away as you’re being treated. 

How does a chiropractic treatment work?

Here’s everything you need to know about how chiropractors help when you go for a treatment:

Before

Although a consultation isn’t essential, it’s important to get advice from a qualified, professional chiropractor before or during your first visit. 

When you’ve booked your first session, remember to wear clothes that you feel comfortable in. Bras can be worn if you prefer, but it’s best to choose a back-closure style so you can expose your back if needed.

During

  1. When you arrive at your appointment, you’ll usually be asked to answer a series of health and lifestyle questions. 
  2. This will be followed by a physical exam to take notes on your posture, muscles and any spine alignment issues.
  3. An X-ray may be needed to help determine the root of any problem, but this isn’t always necessary.
  4. During the treatment, your chiropractor will position you in different ways in order to examine and manipulate different areas of your body. Usually, you’ll be asked to lie face down on a padded chiropractic table.
  5. Depending on which chiropractic treatment you’re receiving, your practitioner may use specialized equipment, such as a drop table, to target specific issues.

After

You shouldn’t feel discomfort during the procedure, but you may be a little sore afterwards — especially if it’s your first appointment. 

It’s also important to note that you may need multiple appointments to help alleviate your issues. Dr. Wolcott says that the “average case is about 11 visits.”

Try to rest, avoid strenuous activity and be sure to drink plenty of water after your treatment to help your recovery.

How long does a chiropractor treatment take?

Session times will vary depending on the treatment area, the severity of the problem and how many sessions you’ve had previously. In general, they could take anywhere between 10 minutes to one hour, but you’ll usually be able to ask or check when making an appointment. 

With treatment times being relatively short, it’s often possible to squeeze one into a lunch break if you’re busy. Just bear in mind you may feel a little sore afterwards, so it’s best to consult your practitioner for advice.

How much does a chiropractor treatment cost? Plus, other things you need to know

A chiropractor helping a patient on a table.

Before you take the plunge and embark on the journey to a stronger backbone, it’s worth understanding what else to expect from a typical spinal chiropractor. 

How much is a chiropractic adjustment?

Costs can depend on where you live, how many treatments you need, as well as the type of treatment itself. A chiropractor visit could set you back anywhere between $30 and $300 — but $150+ is typical. Fortunately, you should be able to find plenty of deals and offers near you. 

How often is treatment needed? 

Frequency of treatments depends on individual circumstances and how severe your problem is. Dr. Wolcott explains that while most patients require around 11 visits to the chiropractor, this “includes cases where we see the patient once or twice and the problem is fixed, and . . . chronic cases that we see very frequently.”

How long do the benefits of seeing a chiropractor last?

You may be lucky enough to feel the benefits of a chiropractic adjustment after just one session, but more often than not you’ll require multiple treatments to alleviate your issue. 

You may feel an improvement in your condition after a few weeks of regular treatments. 

Top tips

  • Future problems could be minimized by wearing comfortable shoes with high arch support — who would’ve thought?!
  • You should always listen to your parents when they complains about your posture, as this can actually be the cause of your back pain!
  • Stretching can be a great natural form of pain relief, as it increases blood flow to your muscles.

Find more top tips with our experience guide.

FAQs

A chiropractor holding a patient's head and neck.

Do chiropractors actually help?

The short answer is yes, they do! After all, they’re trained specifically in helping with musculoskeletal systems and spinal problems. That said, any spinal manipulations should absolutely be carried out by a trained professional to avoid the risk of injuries. 

What conditions do chiropractors treat?

Chiropractors treat pain in the spine, as well as associated issues like headaches and other conditions that could be less obviously back-related. Some nervous-system issues can be identified by wrist pain or shooting pains down an arm or a leg.

Is a chiropractor a specialist? 

Yes, chiropractic adjustment is a specialized form of alternative medicine. Practitioners undergo a specific kind of schooling that focuses on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.

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Ready to book with a back specialist? Find Groupon offers on chiropractic adjustments near you.

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