(OR THE 7 WARNING SIGNS THAT SHOW YOU MAY NEED A DIFFERENT PRACTITIONER)
1. Excessive visits
When you get treated by a chiropractor, you should feel better. Depending on the nature and extent of your problem, after a few visits (4-8 visits) you should notice considerable improvement. A good way to measure is, after two to four weeks, your pain should be reduced by 40-50%, depending on how severe and how extensive your original problem was. Beware of any chiropractor who recommends a 3, 6 or 12 month treatment plan based on your first or second visit. With that said, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can absolutely involve visiting a chiropractor on a regular basis, however, this should be a choice that you both make together, rather than something you are pushed into.
2. Excessive x-rays
Beware of any chiropractor who uses x-rays for any reason other than to rule out a fracture, dislocation or bone disease. X-rays should only be taken if:
(1) You have sustained a recent traumatic injury and are in considerable pain and discomfort
(2) A history and examination indicate a possible disease
(3) You have had long standing pain in an area that has not responded or resolved with care
No person is perfectly symmetrical. No one’s spine is perfectly straight and balanced. If you have no pain and your chiropractor wants to continue treatment because of what an x-ray shows, get a second opinion before you continue care.
3. Questionable diagnostics
Orthopedic and neurological testing is extremely important when seeing a chiropractor. You will ask you to perform several simple movements to view your posture, range of motion, and to find the cause of your pain.
Avoid chiropractors who offer “gimmicky” sounding diagnostics that sensationalize your pain. Some examples of these are: Biological Terrain Assessment, computerized “nutrient deficiency” testing, contact reflex analysis, cytotoxic testing, electrodermal testing, leg-length testing, testing with a Nervo-Scope, surface electromyography (sEMG), thermography, or weighing on a twin-scale device called a Spinal Analysis Machine (S.A.M).
4. Excessive supplementation
Chiropractors take many nutrition classes in school. Supplementing your diet with vitamins can absolutely improve your condition, however beware of any chiropractor who says his or her vitamins are the only ones that work. While not all vitamins are created equally, there are many reputable brands who have good quality supplements. Also, beware of any chiropractor who wants to sell you large amounts of supplements without referring you to a retailer or health-food store for comparable products at a considerably lower cost.
5. Unwillingness to work with other professionals
While chiropractors are very skilled working with particular conditions, we cannot treat everything. Patients also get better results with difficult and complex cases if there is co-management through multiple providers.
If you have communicated to your chiropractor that you are not getting relief after a trial of care (~8 visits), your chiropractor should be able to provide a referral to a different practitioner to take a look at your case
6. Treating areas that don’t hurt
When you receive treatment, three things happen. You get better, you get worse, or you stay the same. If you feel good, only two things can occur. You either stay the same or you get worse. If you go to a chiropractor with lower back pain, he or she should not manipulate your neck unless you also have a neck problem. If your chiropractor insists on manipulating areas that don’t hurt, get a second opinion before continuing care.
*With that said, when I am treated as a patient, I generally have several areas of my body adjusted regardless of if there is any pain because it feels good. There is always an examination of the area prior to treatment
7. Wellness or maintenance treatment
While being able to maintain healthy, mobile body is extremely important, there are several ways to do this. A chiropractor can be a good person to see on some sort of regular basis (once every 3-6 weeks) in order to ensure that you are dealing with the small aches and pain, before they turn into an issue. Another reason could be to update an exercise program if you have had previous injuries. However, if you are going to visit your chiropractor for weekly visits for 5 minute appointments without any pain, get a second opinion before continuing care
A GOOD CHIROPRACTOR
A good chiropractor does everything he or she can to get you better as fast as possible with as few treatments as necessary. A good chiropractor will give you advice on how to avoid future problems without a costly maintenance treatment plan. A good chiropractor will only x-ray when necessary and will not use x-rays as a marketing tool to have you continue care. A good chiropractor will give you sensible nutritional advice concerning supplementation and a healthy diet without excessive pressure to purchase vitamins from the chiropractor. A good chiropractor will have a strong working relationship with allied professionals of all specialties, including family practice physicians, orthopedists, neurologists, physiatrists, physical therapists, athletic trainers and massage therapists.