I’d like to take a minute, and answer a question we get all the time at the office. Commonly, it’s for a patient who’d like to find a ‘good chiropractor’ for their friend or family member – but they live out of town, out of state, or out of the country. Now despite my love of research, it’s not possible for me to research each one of these communities! So I thought I’d put together an answer to “How do I find a good chiropractor?”
Now let’s start by addressing “good chiropractor” – while I’m not a huge fan of this term, I get it. We all want to refer our friends or family members to someone we know is great at what they do, kind, compassionate, will listen to you, and will go above and beyond to help that person get well. I think that’s what people mean when they say “good chiropractor.”
Just like anything we don’t have first hand experience with, it’s hard to know what questions to even ask. What does a chiropractor do? What does it mean to pick a good one?
First things first. Let’s start out by addressing what a chiropractor actually DOES. Get ready… I’m going to take a topic thousands of books are written about and simplify it down to a few sentences…
Most people associate chiropractic care for the help of pain, particularly neck and back pain. What you may not know, is chiropractic care is ultimately concerned with the function of your body’s nervous system. Chiropractors evaluate the spine for areas (joints) that are not moving properly, but that are also causing dysfunction to the nervous system in that area. For example, the bones in the upper neck area can be moving incorrectly and be causing irritation and dysfunction in part of the nervous system they surround, the brainstem. Now in addition to pain, having a dysfunction of the nervous system, particularly of the brainstem, also contributes to other health issues or concerns. Some of the other issues we see that arise from this dysfunction can be headaches, migraines, vertigo, dizziness, numbness and tingling, digestive issues, sleep issues, lowered immune system, and anxiety issues. When these joints are restored to proper motion with specific chiropractic adjustments, this allows the dysfunction of the nervous system to begin to heal, and these symptoms begin to improve also.
So, what sets “good chiropractors” apart? And what things can you look for to pick a good one?
When a patient is new to the office, thorough and detailed testing should be done. Examinations include:
Thermography Scans measure function of the nervous system, and tell us which areas of the nervous system are dysfunctioning and the severity of that dysfunction.
Range of Motion Studies help us evaluate the spine and which joint may not be moving properly.
Heart Rate Variability is another measure of the nervous system and gives us information if your body is handling stress poorly and possibly contributing to chronic health issues.
X-Ray Analysis is important to view the structures of the spine, and exactly how the joints are not moving properly – which is essential in giving us the information on how to specifically correct these misalignments.
Beyond a detailed examination at the beginning of care, it is important to have ways to measure IF there is nervous system dysfunction each visit; these are called objective measures. It would make sense that if your body is improving and healing, it may not require an adjustment each time you are in the office. Having ways to measure this each visit is important for the chiropractor to know WHEN your body needs to be adjusted.
Is your chiropractor actually listening to you? And I don’t mean just nodding their head along while thinking about something else. I mean active listening. Do they ask questions? Do they ask about your goals? Will they actually talk to you on the phone and answer your questions? These are good qualities of any health care provider, and chiropractors are no exception.
As with anything involved in your health or your family’s health, I urge you to ask questions. Become informed. Make good choices.