Like most things in life, there's a time and season for just about everything. Chiropractic therapy is no exception. It hasn't been a cure-all for me, but it sure has brought relief on many occasions. And for that reason, I recommend it to most people. Some of the symptoms I have experienced help with include:
- Tension headaches.
- Back and neck muscle pain.
- TMJ and teeth-grinding.
- Numbness in my fingers.
However, not all chiropractors are created equal. Just like every professional, some do their job well, and others don't. Here are a few of my personal tips for chiropractic care.
1. Find a good DC (Doctor of Chiropractic). Ask your friends who they love, and what kind of results they have experienced.
It does not matter how nice the doctor is if they don't provide any actual relief.
Some DC's have poor technique and cause more harm than good. For me personally, any chiropractor that adjusts too slowly, or turns my head out of neutral position for too long before they make the actual adjustment to my neck will give me a headache. Like, a REALLY BAD (I vomit) kind of headache. Now that I know that, I don't let them adjust me that way. If that's the only way they can make the neck adjustment, I move on to a different chiropractor immediately. Adjustments have to be quick for me, and they have to be somewhat of a "surprise" or else I tense up. Many people are this way. The docs with better technique know this and can handle it beautifully.
2. Find one that doesn't over-rotate you. If you are a smaller-framed female, the tendency is to over-rotate your hips and lumbar section when they do that twist move. I've actually felt my ribs stabbing my organs. I don't let chiro's do my lower back in the traditional twisty way anymore. It's not helpful.
What other options are there? For lower backs, doctors can make adjustments using a special chiropractic table. They notch up the table in a certain area...then push your back or hip or whatever they're adjusting into the table, and as the table moves, the bones get realigned. I think this is a much safer way to have your lower back adjusted. It doesn't usually give you that satisfying "pop" sound, but you also won't break a rib. It's much more gentle.
3. If you have arthritis or severe joint pain, or you are older...I recommend finding a chiropractor that is proficient and trained in "Activator Technique."
To see that in action, you can check out: THIS VIDEO.
I just recommended the Activator type of chiropractic to my mom because it is so gentle, but it still gets the body and bones aligned. If you are in physical therapy for something and you aren't getting the relief and breakthrough you're looking for, often adding chiropractic treatments to the mix will make your PT exponentially more beneficial.
By the way, anybody using the Activator method should be checking in with your alignment and muscles each time they adjust and click. It should not be random and haphazard. That is again, someone who THINKS they know what they're doing, but in fact, is covering their incompetence.
4. Look for a chiropractor who loves to learn. A learning doctor is always a better doctor than a stagnant one. I am always amazed at how few continue to grow their craft as a healer. When I find one that geeks out on learning things, new tips, and new ways of promoting healing - I've found GOLD!
5. BEWARE: of the Chiropractor or Chiropractic office that demands you set up 12 sessions right off the bat. Probably my worst experience in a chiropractic office was when the doc talked my ear off for an hour about insurance and how I had to pre-pay for 12 sessions...all while I was sitting there with a raging migraine. And for the above reasons, I do not sign up for more than 1 session with anybody. I know what kind of adjustments my body needs, and some docs simply don't have the skills. DO NOT throw away your money or insurance benefits on a DC that you haven't tried. If they try to force you or guilt you into signing up for many sessions...here's what you do: WALK OUT. You don't even have to be polite or feel remorse. "No thank you." Then drive off.
Now, you may need 12 visits. That's fine. You may need a regime of several sessions or weeks to get you back on track. That is OFTEN the case, especially if you've been in a car accident, or if you've never been adjusted before. It takes a while for the body to re-learn the new, corrected normal. But don't pre-pay or pre-schedule with a chiropractor you have not personally experienced an actual adjustment with. Get one adjustment. Pay for that one. Then make a decision. Any DC that does it the other way around is either being greedy, or they're so bad people don't want to come back. Either way - you deserve better!
6. You will probably be sore. Good adjustments cause your body to experience soreness. It's all part of the process, but it is worth it to feel much better after a couple days. Ice packs work wonders after an adjustment to reduce inflammation and numb it out. And heat packs work great before an adjustment to loosen up your muscles in preparation for the adjustments.
If you live in the Franklin/Nashville TN area, I highly recommend SUSAN at KEES CHIROPRACTIC. She goes above and beyond. She checks and adjusts my cranial bones (yes, the ones in my head) and jaw bones and even my toes. She puts on a rubber glove, puts her hand in my mouth, and stretches my masseter muscles (the muscles that cause TMJ). Gosh, dang it hurts. But my headaches and teeth-grinding vanish. It's crazy! If there was such a thing as a Chiropractic Ninja, she'd be it.
Q: What are your tips for chiropractic? What have you found helpful? If you have a great DC in your area, leave their website and name in the comments!