Back to Wellness can answer all your Chiropractic questions. If our if you still have questions after reading our FAQ page, feel free to contact our doctors at (507) 388-7744.

What Do Chiropractors Treat?

People commonly see Doctors of Chiropractic for backache, whiplash, and disc problems brought on by injuries to the back and neck, as well as repetitive stress damage including carpal tunnel syndrome and sports injuries. Success in treating headaches, both migraine and common, has enhanced the appeal of chiropractic treatment. Chiropractors also have had some success in treating allergies and digestive disorders.

Who Sees A Chiropractor?

People from all walks of life. Nearly half of all Minnesotans have visited a Doctor of Chiropractic. Women tend to see chiropractors more often than men, and children also see chiropractors for treatment of problems ranging from sports injuries to colic. Many individuals also see chiropractors to promote their general well-being.

Will The Chiropractor Work On My Spine?

Depending on whether or not your chiropractor finds a problem with your vertebrae, your spine may be manipulated or adjusted. The adjustment is usually made by hand. You may be asked to lie on an adjusting table, where the doctor applies pressure to the areas of the spine that are out of alignment or not moving properly.

How Many Times Will I Need To See My Chiropractor?

That depends on what, if any, problems are found. Your doctor most likely will have treated many problems of a similar nature and thus may be able to give you a good estimate of the necessary treatment.

How Else Might My Doctor Treat My Problems?

Chiropractors use other natural therapies, including heat, cold, water, massage, light, and vitamins. Other forms of physiologic therapies include electrical stimulation, ultrasound, traction, diet and acupuncture. Your doctor also may ask you to perform some exercises at home to improve your health.

How Is A Doctor Of Chiropractic Educated?

Training requires a minimum of six years of college and clinic internship before licensure. Areas of scientific study include anatomy, neurology, bacteriology, pathology, physiology, biochemistry, pediatrics, geriatrics, spinal biomechanics, orthopedics, X-ray, cardiology, nutrition, physiotherapy, gastrointestinal and genitourinary systems, and infectious diseases. Every chiropractic graduate must pass a national exam and be tested by the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners to be licensed.

How Safe is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic: A Safe Treatment Option
Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of back pain, neck pain, joint pain of the arms or legs,headaches, and other neuromusculoskeletal complaints. Although chiropractic has an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects.

The risks associated with chiropractic, however, are very small. Many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic treatment, but some may sometimes experience mild soreness or aching similar to what they experience after some forms of exercise headaches and tiredness. Current literature shows that minor discomfort or soreness following spinal manipulation typically fades within 24hours. 1

In addition to being a safe form of treatment, spinal manipulation is incredibly effective, getting patients back on their feet faster than traditional medical care. For example, a 2010 study in the medical journal Spine found that patients with acute low back pain who received spinal manipulation achieved equivalent or superior improvement in pain and function when compared with other commonly used interventions, such as physical modalities, medication, education, or exercise, at short, intermediate and long-term follow-up.

Neck Adjustments
Neck pain and some types of headaches are treated through precise cervical manipulation. Cervical manipulation, often called a neck adjustment, works to improve joint mobility in the neck, restoring range of motion and reducing muscle spasm, which helps relieve pressure and tension. Patients typically notice a reduction in pain, soreness, and stiffness, along with an improved ability to move the neck.

Neck manipulation is a remarkably safe procedure. While some reports have associated upper high-velocity neck manipulation with a certain kind of stroke, or vertebral artery dissection, recent evidence 2 suggests that patients are no more likely to suffer a stroke following a chiropractic neck treatment than they are after visiting their primary care medical doctor’s office and concluded that vertebrobasilar artery (VBA) stroke is a very rare event, 4 and that this type of arterial injury often takes place spontaneously, or following everyday activities such as turning the head while driving, swimming, or having a shampoo in a hair salon.

Patients with this condition may experience neck pain and headache that leads them to seek professional care often at the office of a doctor of chiropractic or medical doctor but that care is not the cause of the injury. The best evidence indicates that the incidence of artery injuries associated with high velocity upper neck manipulation is extremely rare – about 1 case in 5.85 million manipulations.3

To put this risk into perspective, if you drive more than a mile to get to your chiropractic appointment, you are at greater risk of serious injury from a car accident than from your chiropractic visit. It is important for patients to understand the risks associated with some of the most common treatments for neck and back pain prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)—as these options may carry risks significantly greater than those of manipulation. According toa study from the American Journal of Gastroenterology, approximately one-third of all hospitalizations and deathsrelated to gastrointestinal bleeding can be attributed to theuse of aspirin or NSAID painkillers like ibuprofen.4

Furthermore, surgery for conditions for which manipulation may also be used carries risks many times greater than those of chiropractic treatment. Even prolonged bed rest carries some risks, including muscle atrophy, cardiopulmonary deconditioning, bone mineral loss and thromoembolism.5

A comprehensive review of scientific evidence related to neck pain treatments found at least as much evidence supporting the safety and effectiveness of common chiropractic treatments, including manipulation, as for other treatments such as prescription and non-prescriptiondrugs and surgery.6

If you are visiting your doctor of chiropractic with upper neck pain or headache, be very specific about your symptoms. This will help your doctor of chiropractic offer the safest and most effective treatment, even if it involves referral to another health care provider. If the issue of stroke concerns you, do not hesitate to discuss it with your doctor of chiropractic. Depending on your clinical condition, he or she can forego manipulation, and instead can recommend joint mobilization, therapeutic exercise, soft-tissue techniques, or other therapies.

Research Ongoing
The ACA believes that patients have the right to know about the health risks associated with any type of treatment, including chiropractic. Today, chiropractic researchers are involved in studying the benefits and risks of spinal adjustment in the treatment of neck and back pain through clinical trials, literature reviews and publishing papers reviewing the risks and complications of neck adjustment.

All available evidence demonstrates that chiropractic treatment holds an extremely small risk. The chiropractic profession takes this issue very seriously and engages in training and postgraduate education courses to recognize the risk factors in patients, and to continue rendering treatment in the most effective and responsible manner.

1. Senstad O, et al. Frequency and characteristics of side effects of spinal manipulative therapy.
Spine 1997 Feb15;435-440.
2. Cassidy D, et al. Risk of Vertebrobasilar Stroke and Chiropractic Care.
Spine 2008; 33:S176–S183.
3. Haldeman S, et al. Arterial dissection following cervical manipulation: a chiropractic experience.
Can Med Assoc J 2001;165(7):905-06.
4. Lanas A, et al. A nationwide study of mortality associated with hospital admission due to severe gastrointestinal events and those associated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use.
Am J Gastroenterol 2005;100:1685–1693.
5. Lauretti W. “The Comparative Safety of Chiropractic.” In Daniel Redwood, ed., Contemporary Chiropractic. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1997, p. 230-8.
6. Hurwitz E, et al. Treatment of neck pain: noninvasive interventions.
Spine 2008;33(4S):S123-S152.