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When you are in pain, you have many choices. You can wait to see if it goes away, rush to see your doctor, go to an emergency room, use an ice pack, or take painkillers which might provide temporary relief but will not solve the underlying problem. If you want lasting relief, you might consider going to a chiropractor.

Whether you’re considering using a chiropractor for the first time or have been seeing one for years, you might like to know about the history of chiropractic, their training as well as some key statistics about success rates

According to the American Chiropractic Association, there are more than 70,000 chiropractors in the United States. Chiropractors are required to pass a series of four national board exam and be state licensed. It is estimated that chiropractors treat more than 35 million Americans (adults and children) annually.

Chiropractors are the highest-rated healthcare practitioner for low-back pain treatments above specialist physician/MD (i.e., neurosurgeons, neurologists, orthopaedic surgeons), and primary care physician/MD (i.e., family, or internal medicine).

Chiropractors are doctors (DC) who are educated in nationally accredited, four-year doctoral graduate school programs through a curriculum that includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory, and clinical internship. The average chiropractic doctorate program is equivalent in classroom hours to allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) medical schools.

The word ‘chiropractic’ comes from the Greek words cheir (meaning ‘hand’) and praktos (meaning ‘done’), i.e., done by hand. Today, chiropractic is a regulated healthcare profession in the United States and has been for more than 100 years. Kansas was the first state to license chiropractic in 1913. Today, all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, all U.S. territories, and more than 40 countries worldwide license chiropractors.

Chiropractors are designated as physician-level providers in most states and federal Medicare program. Chiropractic services are available in federal health delivery systems, including those administered by Medicaid, the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, Federal Workers’ Compensation, and all state workers’ compensation programs.

In 2017, the American College of Physicians released an update to its low back pain treatment guideline that recommends first using non-drug treatments, such as spinal manipulation (a centerpiece of chiropractic care), for acute and chronic low back pain.

A systematic review/meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017 supports the use of spinal manipulative therapy as a first-line treatment for acute low back pain.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, three in four people who saw a chiropractor in the last year (77%) described chiropractic care as “very effective.” And in a consumer survey, chiropractic outperformed all other back pain treatments, including prescription medication, deep-tissue massage, yoga, Pilates, and over-the-counter medication therapies.

What Does a Chiropractor Do?

Chiropractic is focused on the body’s ability to self-heal and includes other treatments like nutrition and exercise. Chiropractors do not prescribe pain medication. By improving the neuromusculoskeletal system’s ability to perform, chiropractors believe the benefits of spinal adjustment and realigning joints improves the functioning of other systems throughout the body.

When you go to a chiropractor, he/she will conduct an examination looking at your spine’s position and muscle reflexes. They will also perform tests, such as an X-Ray to diagnose your condition, and come up with a treatment plan and monitor your progress.

Far from being bone crackers, chiropractors use spinal manipulation using their hands to "move the joint" in a specific direction for better alignment. In addition to spinal manipulation, chiropractors offer electrical stimulation and ultrasound to relieve pain, hot and cold treatment and prescribe exercises to strengthen your spine. They might also offer diet and weight counseling.

What Conditions Does a Chiropractor Treat?

The most common reasons people go to a chiropractor is for low back pain, neck, and headaches. They also aid in treating pain from arthritis and provide gentle manipulation with the goal of increasing one's range of motion and reducing muscle spasms.

When Should You See a Chiropractor?

If you have pain in the lower back, neck or have headaches seeing a chiropractor is a good start before reaching for pain relievers. Many people seek out chiropractors for preventing disease, increasing energy, strengthening immunity and overall well-being. Although there is no guarantee that seeing a chiropractor will prevent disease or increase energy, there is no downside to trying,

How Long Does It Take to Get Pain Relief?

Although some people experience immediate relief, on average it takes six to ten visits to a chiropractor for most people to experience relief.

What to Expect at the First Visit

When you see a chiropractor for the first time, he/she will take a medical history and perform an assessment of your general health. During the physical examination, the chiropractor will look at your posture, shoulder and hip alignment and test your muscle strength. If you have imaging (X-rays, MRIs, or CAT scans), please bring the reports.

During the first and subsequent visit, you will be face down on a padded chiropractic table for your adjustments. As your chiropractor realigns your spine or joints you might hear popping and cracking sounds, like those heard when you crack your fingers.

How Will I Feel After the Procedure?

Many patients experience immediate relief and over time see their health improve. Some patients report experiencing a mild headache fatigue or soreness in the treated areas after spinal manipulation. These are usually temporary.

Like any medical procedure you can have an adverse reaction. Though rare, some patients have reported pinched nerves and herniated discs.

What do I do If I Don't Get Pain Relief?

If chiropractic care does not alleviate your pain or if it gets worse, contact your primary care physician who may refer you for tests or recommend another specialist. Contact your doctor immediately if you are feeling weak or experiencing numbness.

Once Oasis and Spine and Rehab Centers of NJ fully combine, patients will be able to receive conservative care, such as chiropractic and physical therapy, and medical care, including pain or surgery depending on the need and severity of your pain.