Chiropractic is a profession with a wide variety of practice philosophies and techniques, which makes it a challenge to select the best chiropractor. Because the chiropractic treatment is a physical procedure, consideration should be given to both the rapport with the doctor as well as compatibility with joint manipulation style.
A good place to start is to ask a primary care physician, physical therapist, or spine specialist for recommendations of chiropractors who they view as competent and trustworthy. One way to phrase this question is: “If someone in your family needed a chiropractor, who would you recommend?”
Before starting chiropractic treatment, it is usually best to conduct a telephone interview or request an in-office consultation to learn more about the chiropractor, the clinic, and techniques used. Often the treating chiropractor will request a personal consultation to discuss these details
Ask your friends. If you have friends who share your perspective on health and wellness, ask for a recommendation. You can ask your friend candid questions about the doctor, the staff, fees, availability, and services offered. More importantly, your friend, who knows both you and the chiropractor, may be able to tell whether your health philosophies and personalities are compatible.
Meet the doctor. Most chiropractors will be willing to meet you for a consultation at no cost to determine whether you are a good match. Make productive use of this visit. You want to know whether the practice is right for you, and whether you feel comfortable with the doctor. Things to ask and look for:
Does the doctor look healthy? If the doctor does not live a healthy lifestyle, this speaks volumes regarding their commitment to wellness. If the doctor smells of tobacco smoke, is obese, or otherwise appears unhealthy, this is a concern.
Do the two of you “click”? You are entering into a very special relationship. Approach it as you would any long-term commitment. Do you like each other? Does the doctor seem rushed? Do you communicate well with each other? Avoid a doctor who seems rushed, or talks down to you. You want a partner and a coach, not a surrogate parent.
Does the practice focus on vertebral subluxation and wellness? We experience life through our nervous systems. Physical, biochemical, and psychological distress may result in spinal subluxations, which disrupt nerve function, and compromise your ability to adapt to the environment. It is essential that this be the focus of your wellness chiropractor, since some chiropractors choose to confine their practices to the mechanical treatment of back and neck pain.
Try to find a chiropractor whose practice is limited to conservative treatment of back pain and other musculoskeletal problems. Ask your medical doctor for the names of any who fit this description and appear to be trustworthy.
In addition to manual manipulation or stretching of tight muscles or joints, science-based chiropractors commonly use heat or ice packs, ultrasound treatment, and other modalities similar to those of physical therapists. They may also recommend a home exercise program. For most conditions that chiropractic care can help, significant improvement should occur within a few visits.
Is the chiropractor friendly and courteous?
Does the patient feel comfortable talking with the chiropractor?
Does the chiropractor fully answer all questions asked by the patient?
Does the chiropractic doctor listen to the patient’s complete explanation of symptoms and treatment concerns/preferences?
how many years has the chiropractor been in practice?
Does the chiropractor have a specific undergraduate or post-graduate specialty?
Is the chiropractor in the patient’s insurance provider network?
What is the policy at the chiropractic clinic for payment of services that are denied by the insurer? Some chiropractic clinics offer cash discounts for insurance-denied services.
What is the payment for the initial consultation? Many chiropractors offer an initial consultation free of charge.
What are the chiropractor’s fees for the initial examination? For the chiropractic adjustment? Fees should be competitive and within the ‘usual and customary’ range within the local area.
What kind of discounts does the chiropractor offer? Most chiropractic clinics offer a reduced fee for cash payments at the time of service or family/volume discounts.
Does the clinic offer a guarantee? Some chiropractors will offer a satisfaction guarantee, for example, that you are satisfied with each clinic visit or that visit will be free of charge.
How long is the average wait time in the waiting room? As with many medical practices, some have long wait times and some are quite prompt – selecting one with a good fit for you may impact how satisfied you are with the chiropractor.
Does the chiropractor provide the recommended treatment plan in writing? Some patients prefer this approach so that they can have all the information at hand to research and think about the recommendations.
Does the chiropractor offer a list of professional references? Many chiropractors will provide a list of other healthcare professionals in the area whom they work with – physical therapists, medical doctors, or alternative practitioners, such as acupuncturists, massage therapists, or naturopaths.