7 Things to Know About Going to a Chiropractor

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Chris Illiades, MD on March 20, 2021
  • chiropractor neck exam
    What to Know Before Your First Visit
    Many people with back or neck pain think about seeing a chiropractor. Chiropractic care is a type of complementary healthcare. Chiropractors are not medical doctors, but they treat painful conditions that affect muscles and bones. You should learn a bit about chiropractic care before you go. You will be able to make better decisions about your care with some knowledge in your pocket.
  • African American male patient in physical therapy using stretch band on leg
    1. The word “chiropractic” means “hands-on care.”
    The word “chiropractic” comes from two Greek words that mean “hands-on care.” Chiropractic care is treatment that focuses on how your muscles, bones and joints affect your overall health. Chiropractors do not prescribe drugs. They do not do surgery. They use controlled force—usually with their hands—to restore movement to your joints. Chiropractic care may also include exercise and lifestyle counseling.
  • female doctor examining female patient's neck and shoulder
    2. Chiropractors treat muscles, muscle attachments, and joints.
    Chiropractors treat people who have problems with muscles, muscle attachments (tendons), and joints. Most people who go to a chiropractor have back or neck pain. But chiropractors treat a variety of muscle and joint problems. Chiropractors also treat referred pain, which is when a problem with one part of the body creates pain in another area. Research shows chiropractic care works best for people with back pain, neck pain, headaches, whiplash injuries, and joint problems of the arms or legs.
  • chiropractic-adjustment
    3. Chiropractors have extensive education and training.
    Doctors of chiropractic have the initials "DC" after their name. They must go to college and study premedical subjects, similar to medical doctors. They must then attend an accredited chiropractic college, usually for 4 to 5 years. Their studies may include anatomy, bone disorders, nervous system disorders, X-rays, manipulations, exercise therapy, and nutrition. Chiropractors must then pass a national exam to get a license to practice in their state.
  • physical therapist or other provider giving hands-on shoulder therapy to woman
    4. You’ll have a physical exam at your first appointment.
    Your chiropractor will ask about your problem and do a physical exam at the start of your visit. The chiropractor may order some laboratory tests or an X-ray. The chiropractor might send you to a different doctor if your problem is not right for chiropractic treatment. If spinal manipulation might help, you may get treatment in the office at your first visit. You may need to return for more treatments. Your condition will determine how many treatments you need. Be sure to ask how many visits you should expect.
  • medical professional performing median nerve conduction test
    6. Chiropractors do more than manipulations and adjustments.
    Other treatments may include heat and ice, relaxation training, deep tissue work, and exercises to do at home. Some chiropractors may use a device to stimulate your muscles with electricity. Chiropractors might also give you advice about your overall health. For instance, you might get advice on diet, nutrition, weight loss, and other healthy lifestyle changes you can make.
  • Health Insurance Card
    7. Many private insurance companies cover chiropractic care.
    Always check with your insurance company before going to your appointments. Make sure you have coverage and find out how many visits you get. Workers compensation, Medicare and some Medicaid plans also cover chiropractic care. If you do not have insurance coverage, ask your chiropractor how much they charge per visit and what additional costs you can anticipate for treatment services.
7 Things to Know About Going to a Chiropractor
Chiropractic Care

About The Author

  1. Chiropractic: An Introduction. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/chiropractic/introduction.htm
  2. What is Chiropractic? American Chiropractic Association. http://www.acatoday.org/level2_css.cfm?T1ID=13&T2ID=61
  3. Frequently Asked Questions. American Chiropractic Association. http://www.acatoday.org/level3_css.cfm?T1ID=13&T2ID=61&T3ID=152
  4. Chiropractic education. American Chiropractic Association. http://www.acatoday.org/level3_css.cfm?T1ID=13&T2ID=61&T3ID=151
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Last Review Date: 2021 Mar 20
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.