Chiropractic Basics

Q: How can the nervous system affect someones health?

A: Consider the spinal cord your body’s “information super highway.” Every nerve in your body is linked to the spinal cord, which is housed in the series of bones that make up your spine. If one of the bones is improperly positioned or restricted in movement at all, it compromises communication between the brain and body. When a bone puts pressure on a nerve in your spinal cord, it can cause pain as well as dysfunction with associated organs and tissues. The purpose of chiropractic care is to locate these misaligned areas and adjust them, restoring the flow of information and allowing for your body’s optimal functioning.

Q: How does chiropractic work?

A: Doctors of Chiropractic treat patients by using manual adjustments to parts of the body, especially the spine. A chiropractic adjustment is a specific manipulation of the spinal vertebrae or other areas of the body that have abnormal movement patterns or are not functioning properly. These abnormal patterns are often referred to as subluxations.

We refer to chiropractic as a whole person approach because it targets the root of the issue, not just the symptoms, and also because it provides a foundation for healing by helping you tap into your body’s incredible self-healing potential, this is known as vitalistic or innate healing. Regular chiropractic care, along with practicing healthy habits such as exercising, proper nutrition, and getting plenty of rest, can help you maintain a healthy, optimally-functioning body. Your chiropractor will help counsel you on these behaviors and support you in making the changes that will support your care and health.

Q: What does chiropractic cure?

A: Your body is an incredible self-healing machine, powered by a nervous systems that controls your body’s self-regulating processes such as respiration, circulation, digestion, hormone production and more. As such, it is your body—not your chiropractor—that “cures” you. What chiropractic does is help remove blockages so that your body can unleash its own inborn healing abilities.

Q: What conditions do chiropractors treat?

A: Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) are especially well-known for their effectiveness with patients suffering from head, neck and back pain, but their expertise does not end there. Chiropractors care for patients of all ages, with a variety of health conditions, injuries, and musculoskeletal disorders.

Who Uses Chiropractic Care?

Q: Can children benefit from chiropractic care?

A: Yes! Children tend to be very physically active and often experience injuries such as falls, strains, and blows, which can affect their nervous system. If your child displays symptoms of discomfort, headaches, changes in behavior or movements, they could be experiencing back or neck pain, or other misalignments that can cause stiffness, soreness or discomfort. Many of these symptoms can best be treated with chiropractic care. There are doctors who specialize in pediatric chiropractic care. Many DCs take extra pediatric training.  Chiropractic care can help restore your child’s nervous system function.

Q: Is it safe for pregnant patients to have chiropractic care?

A: Absolutely! In fact, during pregnancy is one of the most important times to have a healthy, well-functioning nervous system. Many women who have chiropractic care during pregnancy report having a faster, smoother delivery experience. There are many doctors who specialize primarily in prenatal, infant, and family chiropractic. You can locate the one who’s right for you by using our Find A Doctor tool.

Q: Can newborns get chiropractic care?

A: Birth is a stressful process and spinal subluxations can cause a wide variety of issues, even in newborns. By realigning the spine after birth, chiropractic care can help alleviate a multitude of short- and long-term health problems associates with the birthing process. Often times chiropractic care can reduce colic and promote healthy digestion, as well as alleviate symptoms related to spinal distress including ear infections, problems with crawling, unusual crying, poor appetite, and erratic sleeping habits. Of course, chiropractors who specialize in pediatrics are highly knowledgeable and very gentle with your little one—using no more pressure than you’d use to test the ripeness of a tomato.

Q: Is it safe to have chiropractic care after surgery?

A: Please first check with your medical doctor, but chiropractic care can help get you back to functioning at 100% after any surgery. Surgery tends to cause a strain on the system and chiropractic care can actually aid in the healing process. Your doctor of chiropractic should avoid or take precautions around the surgical area(s) and will focus on restoring proper alignment where possible to encourage your innate healing after surgery.

Q: Can patients with osteoporosis get chiropractic care?

A: Ask your DC about their knowledge regarding osteoporosis. Many patients find that chiropractic care helps decrease suffering and discomfort from osteoporosis.  Your Doctor of Chiropractic should tailor a care plan to fit your specific needs and circumstances. No matter what your health condition, your chiropractic doctor will find an approach that works best for you.

What to Expect

Q: How many adjustments will I need?

A: There is no magic number—it varies widely from patient to patient, depending on your unique condition and specific health goals. Patients tend to report improvements after just one or several visits depending on your condition, health, age or injury. Often times you can expect to go less often as your spine and muscles stabilize to hold the correction. In some chronic cases, however, complete healing can take months or even years. Wellness or maintenance care is recommended to maintain your level of wellness once the original issue, injury or condition is abated. Of course, regular periodic visits help to detect and correct issues before they become serious.

Q: How long until I will feel better?

A: It depends. Sometimes patients report instant relief, while others find it takes weeks or months. Factors such as the time-frame since the incident and severity of the condition can affect the healing process. You can maximize the effects of chiropractic care by maintaining healthy habits such as proper exercise, nutrition, and rest, keeping regular appointments, as well as not smoking.

Q: Will I receive any medication for my pain?

A: No. Unlike traditional medicine, chiropractic is an alternative form of care that treats without using drugs or surgery. We rely on natural, non-invasive methods to promote pain relief and healing. Your doctor will show you how to properly apply natural remedies to alleviate painful symptoms. These remedies can have an analgesic effect without the common side effects caused by pain medications.

Q: How long will I need chiropractic care?

A: It depends on your condition as well as your health goals. Even after getting relief from the original issue that brought them into a chiropractic office, many patients continue with regular periodic visits to support healing and prevent relapses. This way, doctors of chiropractic are able to detect and correct new issues before they become serious. 

Funding Chiropractic Care

Q: Is chiropractic care covered by insurance?

A: Sometimes. Chiropractic care is included in many health insurance plans, including major medical plans, workers’ compensation, Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield plans for federal employees, and other health insurance plans. Chiropractic care is also available to active-duty members of the armed forces at more than 60 military bases and is available to veterans at 36 major veterans medical facilities.

Q: What if my policy does not cover chiropractic?

A: It’s important to remember that your health is one of the most worthy investments you can make with your time, energy, and resources. Your health affects everything in your life, from how you feel, to your relationships, to how well you work. While chiropractic care may be more expensive if it’s not covered under an insurance plan, there are other alternatives. For example, many plans will allow you to use your Health Spending Accounts to pay for chiropractic care. Some doctors even work on a sliding scale for patients who can’t normally afford their services. Ultimately each of us gets to decide for ourselves the value we place on our health. Even if your insurance company won’t help foot the bill, there are ways to make chiropractic care affordable for just about anyone.  

Finding and Choosing a Doctor

Q: How do I find a chiropractor?

A: It is always a good idea to ask for referrals from friends, family members, colleagues or other healthcare providers. You can also use the CCA’s free Find A Doctor *insert link*search tool to locate a doctor of chiropractic in your area by zip code or city, who performs a specific technique or graduated from a certain chiropractic school.

Q: Do I need a referral from an Medical Doctor (MD)?

A: Unless specifically required by your insurance plan, a referral is usually not necessary in the state of Colorado. If you are not sure if your insurance requires a referral, you can find out by speaking with your employer’s human resources office or by calling your insurance company directly. Look on your insurance card for a customer service phone number.

Q: Do all chiropractors perform adjustments the same way?

A: No. There are many techniques for adjusting the spine, cranial bones and extremities. No one method is best for everyone. Doctors take different approaches based on specialty, philosophy, and clinical objectives. Because every spine is unique, doctors carefully and artfully tailor the treatment to best suit each patient’s needs. Use our glossary page to familiarize yourself with chiropractic techniques or modalities or call the chiropractors office if you have questions about how the DC adjusts.