Top problems with chiropractors and what to look for when choosing one
This topic is obviously very near and dear to my heart, chiropractic. So, I’ve been a chiropractor for about 5 years now and it’s been wonderful I’ve seen some things that I truly thought were never possible in terms of patient testimonials and results. I’m really passionate about it as I truly believe it can help billions.
A little background on why I became a chiropractor. When I was in 6th grade, I actually broke my back in two different places playing basketball. It was a terrible time for me, having to tell a 12-year-old they basically can’t do anything but go to school and go home for 6 months. But that’s what I did, and towards the end I went to physical therapy as well and recovered and got back to playing but was never really the same. I remained this way until sophomore year of high school when I hurt it again playing basketball and this time my mom decided to take me to a chiropractor. I was nervous, I didn’t know what it was all about, but it got me back to playing in just two weeks. Ever since then I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
Now while chiropractic has been great to me and my patients, I want to address those who have NOT had good experiences with chiropractic and now think that chiropractic is bad. And while I obviously disagree and DO NOT think chiropractic is bad, I do recognize that there are some problems with many chiropractors out there. So, this podcast is going to be about what are, in my opinion, the top 5 problems and things to look out for when choosing a chiropractor and hopefully this can help you make the right choice. I’ll be having a follow up podcast discussing in detail the top 5 reasons you should see a chiropractor in the future. But my intention is to basically have this as a guideline of sorts for choosing the right chiropractor.
Top 5 Problems with Chiropractors and things to look out for
1. Not utilizing x-rays - If you were to take your car to the mechanic, and you were complaining that the engine was making this weird nose, and the mechanic told you what was wrong with it with 100% certainty before even popping the hood, you’d probably think he was a little crazy right? Of course. So, if you go to the chiropractor, and he tells you what’s wrong with your spine with complete and absolute certainty without even taking x-rays, that’s the equivalent of a mechanic trying to fix your engine without popping the hood.
Now I know there are a lot of people who have gone to the chiropractor before and have gotten decent results without x rays so it can be done but really those chiropractors were shooting blind. If you REALLY want your body and your spine to be in the best of hands, you got to take a look inside and see what’s going on. Not to mention, it can be flat out dangerous to not take x rays.
So please, if you’re considering going to a chiropractor, which I highly recommend you do, please make sure they take x-rays at the office you are going to. It may cost a little extra, but it’s worth it.
2. Not being able to quantify results - So problem number two that I see most commonly in my profession is that a lot of chiropractors have no way of quantifying the results they’re promising. Often times, they’ll promise the world, and then have no way of showing they actually accomplished what they set out do to. They don’t do any re-exams, no orthopedic tests, ROM, strength tests, functional movement screens.
Essentially what they’re doing is only going by how you as a patient feel, and while that is a very good indicator of how effective the treatment is, it’s not the only thing to go by. We as chiropractors need to take objective measures to make sure that our treatment is effective. And if the chiropractor takes x-rays, which they SHOULD, they should be able to go back and show you what exactly changed on those x-rays at the end of the treatment plan. Do the x-rays look any different? Was there any progress?
If they can’t show you any objective measures to prove progress, then they’re really not doing they’re job. So first and foremost, ask if they’re taking x-rays, then ask if you’ll be able to see the changes on the post x-rays at the end.
3. Not taking a look at the whole picture - Another common issue with chiropractors is that they don’t look at the whole picture. Obviously, our expertise as chiropractors is to work with the spine. But so many chiropractors get tunnel visioned when it comes to the spine and they ignore other factors that can be contributing to their spinal pain like diet, exercise, and not only that they don’t pay any attention to their extremity joints like their shoulder or their ankles.
Often times low back issues can be greatly improved by working on the feet and the ankles, or a neck issue can really be resolved by fixing the shoulder. In addition to that, a lot of chiropractors ignore patients with highly inflammatory diets that are actually contributing to their pain as well. And when they get tunnel visioned like this, they fall short of getting their patients the best possible outcome.
So, try and get a good feel from the chiropractor of whether or not they’re looking at the body from head to toe and if they’re at least offering guidance in terms of diet and exercise.
4. Getting too tunnel visioned on their technique - Something that’s very common and potentially very problematic in the chiropractic world is that there’s something like over 900 different techniques within the chiropractic profession. And while its fascinating to us chiropractors who learn them and how they work, patients don’t really care what technique you’re doing, as long as you fix their problem. All too often chiropractors get caught up in their own ego and their own technique and try to do the same technique to every patient regardless of whether that technique is warranted.
That’s why it’s good to make sure you have a variety of techniques at your disposal, and you pick them up and use them as tools, you don’t base your identity around it. At the end of the day, the patient doesn’t give a damn what your technique is called, they just want to get better. It’s not your job to use a certain technique, it’s your job to fix that person’s condition.
So, when looking for a chiropractor online, typically on their website it will list the different number of techniques they’re proficient in, so look to see that they offer more than just one technique to help correct your condition.
5. Some chiropractors are whack jobs - So there’s a certain subset of chiropractors who are frankly just out of their minds. There are chiropractors out there who claim they can do adjusting through the phone, adjusting people without actually touching them, adjusting the auras or balancing chakras and the like. For whatever reason chiropractic seems to attract some odd characters into their schools and it's really unfortunate because these people are the quacks and that are giving the rest of the profession a bad rep. I actually do blame the schools for this for accepting these people and pushing them through when it’s clear to everyone that they're out of their minds.