Author Topic: Chiropractor worth it?  (Read 3026 times)

jeromedawg

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Chiropractor worth it?
« on: March 25, 2019, 05:44:30 PM »
Hey all,

My wife started having mid-upper back pain recently (she has gone through a fair amount of stress in the past few months) and said she *felt* misaligned. We looked up referrals for chiropractors and found one right around the corner from us. He took some x-rays and took some pics and determined that she is misaligned, she has minor scoliosis, her lower back leans more towards the right, the curvature of her neck is slightly inverted, and there are two discs in her lower back that are on top of one another or appear to be overlapped ("subluxation" of the spine). All this is new to her and I as we have never used a chiropractor but thought it might be good to try.

My wife had her first adjustment today and said it didn't feel like the chiropractor did anything. When she asked him he said different chiropractors do it differently where some are more abrupt (and you can feel joints popping, etc) whereas others are more gentle. He claims to practice the latter approach. She was expressing her doubt about how well this is going to work. She also felt that this chiropractor was very rushed and busy - he's one of the more popular ones in the area and apparently has a lot of clients. Anyway, he scheduled a course of treatment spanning twelve weeks and each visit is $45 I believe. That's no small amount of money.

I've read that physical therapy might be a better alternative, and strengthening the muscles around the problematic areas, since those are ultimately more important for maintaining correct posture presumably.

Does anyone have more insight into all of this?

Askel

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2019, 06:28:14 PM »
I've got one specific problem that shows up in my neck on occasion. Sometimes it can be "call in sick" debilitating.  My chiropractor can fix it in a 30 minute visit. 

He's amazing and a miracle worker for me, but if I stick around longer than those 30 minutes, he starts talking topics that seem sort of like quackery to me.

It seems there is a lot of variation in chiropractors, and not all can be judged by a single standard- some are really good at just a few things. I lucked out and found one on the first try.  My wife has been seeing the same one her whole life.   

SunnyDays

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2019, 06:32:38 PM »
Personally, I wouldn't let a chiro touch me with a ten foot pole.  I prefer a combo of PT and massage.  With PT, you get homework and aren't dependent on someone to fix you.  And massage just feels good.  Which reminds me, gotta make an appointment.

seemsright

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2019, 08:19:24 PM »
When I need I will see a old school chiropractor that has been able to fix my issues. But I am very 'in' my body due to decades of Martial Arts. I went to him when side kicks popped my femur out of my hip joint. It took him a bit to get it back in. I went to him when after my Black Belt test after my Instructor turned me wrong and gave me massive whip lash. I go to him when Deadlifts tweek my back.

I have seen a few others and have had the same issue your wife has had. My advice is if the chiro is telling you you need to be seen for X amount of time they did not fix the issue. Find a old school one. And when you do use them when you need them. I am willing to bet a old school chiro will do a few adjustments, pull on the legs and adjust the neck and she would feel a 1000% better. She found a scam artist.

Abe

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2019, 08:37:31 PM »
...determined that she is misaligned, she has minor scoliosis, her lower back leans more towards the right, the curvature of her neck is slightly inverted, and there are two discs in her lower back that are on top of one another or appear to be overlapped ("subluxation" of the spine)...

I've read that physical therapy might be a better alternative, and strengthening the muscles around the problematic areas, since those are ultimately more important for maintaining correct posture presumably.

Does anyone have more insight into all of this?

All of the above you posted are common findings on X-rays, and poorly correlate with symptoms. Your reading and intuition is correct. A lot of her discomfort is due to posture that is corrected with proper exercise and physical therapists are the experts on this. I would try that approach first. A lot of chiropractors are trying to sell a quick fix to a chronic issue. Also, a lot of less trustworthy spine surgeons do too. We know from randomized clinical trials done in surgical specialties (i.e. actual evidence) that most physical repairs to the spine rarely fix chronic back pain issues.

I had similar issues related to posture that improved with exercise and weight training. Light / moderate lifting over a long period helped, as did elliptical an other exercises that encourage good posture. There's just no quick fix to this problem.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2019, 08:44:10 PM by Abe »

middo

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2019, 08:40:43 PM »
I would see a physiotherapist.  You should get homework to do in terms of exercises to strengthen the areas that need extra muscle to support them.  Chiropractors are basically "back crackers" who provide some short term pain relief, so you walk out of the surgery feeling better, but do no long term good.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiropractic#Philosophy

It makes for interesting reading.  So do some of the controversies about subluxations.




jeromedawg

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2019, 08:59:50 PM »
Thanks all.  Yeah, it sounds like her going back for a 12 session thing isn't in our best interest and sounds like more of a money grab. This chiro came highly recommended from neighbors on Nextdoor and Yelp. Maybe he has genuinely helped those people - it seems certain chiros "work" for some and not others. For my wife, I just don't know...

Regarding Physiotherapists or doing physical therapy, how have you gone about finding a good person for that? Just by reference? Healthgrades? Yelp? All of the above?


Daisy

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2019, 09:46:03 PM »
My chiropractor has helped me a lot. Best of luck.

Abe

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2019, 09:55:37 PM »
Your doctor may know of ones they recommend. Also can ask an orthopedic clinic where they refer patients. Review sites are biased to extremes of positive and negative reviews so would take those as a consideration but not rule someone out based on a few reviews. If there are reviews of a group practice that may be more helpful.

Moonwaves

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2019, 05:28:54 AM »
If you have some time to kill, you might also enjoy reading the thread: My Soon-To-Be Millionaire Family Members

...
Whenever money comes up and my sis senses some skepticism on behalf of my family, I am informed that my BIL was part of a "special program" in chiropractic school (this program is apparently affiliated with the school in some way, but you have to pay to be a part of it on top of your tuition?) that taught him the secrets of how to become a millionaire within a year. They're expecting to be VERY wealthy VERY quickly through this chiropractic office.

Am I missing something here? Are most chiropractors millionaires? Is starting a chiropractic office somehow different than starting other businesses that would make it more lucrative more quickly?

It's an amusing thread and there are also nuggets of advice about chiropractor vs. physio in there, IIRC.

Cranky

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2019, 06:46:40 AM »
Check your insurance about coverage for PT, and ask your primary care for a referral. Iím sure some practices will let you just make and appointment but the place I go only takes patients by referral.

And be aware that depending on your insurance coverage, PT can be pretty pricy.

slappy

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2019, 08:34:08 AM »
I know we have at least one MMM chiro, so maybe that person will chime in. I know there have been a few threads about it.

Coincidentally, I just went to the PCP last week because about two days after every chiro visit, I get a pretty bad headache that lasts approximately two days and nothing will resolve it. My PCP said it is a muscle spasm that is being aggravated by the chiro adjustment. He said that chiros are great it you have an issue that you need to have fixed, but chiro regular maintenance is not necessary. I'm sad because I have been seeing a chiro my whole life, but I can't take these headaches.

So did the chiro you saw use the activator or did he manually manipulate? If he didn't manually manipulate (crack the back), I can see why you wife felt he didn't do anything. My husband felt the same way when we went to a chiro that used the activator.

I think you have gotten good advice about PT. My posture is horrible, plus I'm nursing and pumping, so I can relate.

trollwithamustache

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2019, 08:35:12 AM »
Half of all body-workers, Chiropractors, masseuses, PTs are fee obsessed succubi. They treat you minimally so you keep coming back for more.

The good ones are amazing if they can help you with stretches, exercises or posture things that you should be doing on a regular basis to prevent the problem.

Shop around.

Slow2FIRE

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2019, 08:38:35 AM »
You may be able to get a limited number of Chiropractic visits covered by your insurance provider.  Check into that as well.

jeromedawg

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2019, 11:21:58 AM »
You may be able to get a limited number of Chiropractic visits covered by your insurance provider.  Check into that as well.

I don't think that's the case on our plan - it's an HSA. My wife said they limit you to 26 visits per year but we have to pay full since we have a high deductable. I don't think I saw anything regarding chiropractors in the 'covered' sections which usually are preventative.

frugalfoothills

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2019, 11:31:51 AM »
If you have some time to kill, you might also enjoy reading the thread: My Soon-To-Be Millionaire Family Members

...
Whenever money comes up and my sis senses some skepticism on behalf of my family, I am informed that my BIL was part of a "special program" in chiropractic school (this program is apparently affiliated with the school in some way, but you have to pay to be a part of it on top of your tuition?) that taught him the secrets of how to become a millionaire within a year. They're expecting to be VERY wealthy VERY quickly through this chiropractic office.

Am I missing something here? Are most chiropractors millionaires? Is starting a chiropractic office somehow different than starting other businesses that would make it more lucrative more quickly?

It's an amusing thread and there are also nuggets of advice about chiropractor vs. physio in there, IIRC.

I was wondering if my thread would get linked :)

OP -- to me, having watched my BIL and sister's entire chiropractic journey (AND being an advocate for chiropractic myself as I have definitely benefitted from it in the past), here are my 2 cents:

It seems that there are 2 schools of thought when it comes to chiropractors. You've got the more "old school" chiros... you walk in, tell them what hurts, they crack you around, you feel better, you leave. Then you have what I refer to as "new age" chiropractic. This is where my BIL happily resides.

The new age chiropractors believe in "subluxations" (good link above talking about this) and preach a more preventative, holistic theory of chiropractic care. The idea is that if you come regularly for small adjustments to keep your body aligned, you will avoid many other ailments throughout your life and have overall improved health. They sell "care plans" like you've described above. I have an issue with this one-size-fits-all "prescription" of care... if I present with lower back pain vs. someone who's presenting for simple preventative care, why would I not be handled differently as a patient? Why would my care plan be the same as theirs? Makes no sense to me, and I get the same vibe as you... it's a sales pitch more than it is health care.

Also, some of the new age chiropractors (again, like my BIL) practice a more gentle approach. My BIL doesn't even crack joints... he has a small instrument that's pressurized and he lightly feels all over your body and then shoots you in various spots. I personally don't feel any better after he does this... I have an old lower back injury from playing competitive soccer when I was younger and it can be truly debilitating, to the point where I have to stay home from work because I can't walk. His little applicator thingy doesn't exactly get me up and on my feet.

MY chiropractor, however, is old school. I walk crawl into his office, he puts me on the table, focuses specifically on my area of pain, adjusts me, and I do feel better. And it's not a fleeting feeling, either... I can walk, go back to work, etc. He doesn't try to sell me on a 12 week or 6 month care package -- he tells me "you probably need to come again in 2 days, and we'll reevaluate at that point." And when I start feeling better, I stop going.

Sounds to me like you might be visiting my BIL's practice ;)

iris lily

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2019, 11:44:33 AM »
We have regular discussions about chiros here, and It seems that Canadian chiropractors have different training I might respect more.

I am like one of the posters above, they would not touch me with a ten foot pole.

OP, if you are in the US you work with a physical therapist at the directive of a physician. PTís are a good thing.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2019, 11:48:26 AM by iris lily »

jeromedawg

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2019, 01:16:36 PM »
If you have some time to kill, you might also enjoy reading the thread: My Soon-To-Be Millionaire Family Members

...
Whenever money comes up and my sis senses some skepticism on behalf of my family, I am informed that my BIL was part of a "special program" in chiropractic school (this program is apparently affiliated with the school in some way, but you have to pay to be a part of it on top of your tuition?) that taught him the secrets of how to become a millionaire within a year. They're expecting to be VERY wealthy VERY quickly through this chiropractic office.

Am I missing something here? Are most chiropractors millionaires? Is starting a chiropractic office somehow different than starting other businesses that would make it more lucrative more quickly?

It's an amusing thread and there are also nuggets of advice about chiropractor vs. physio in there, IIRC.

I was wondering if my thread would get linked :)

OP -- to me, having watched my BIL and sister's entire chiropractic journey (AND being an advocate for chiropractic myself as I have definitely benefitted from it in the past), here are my 2 cents:

It seems that there are 2 schools of thought when it comes to chiropractors. You've got the more "old school" chiros... you walk in, tell them what hurts, they crack you around, you feel better, you leave. Then you have what I refer to as "new age" chiropractic. This is where my BIL happily resides.

The new age chiropractors believe in "subluxations" (good link above talking about this) and preach a more preventative, holistic theory of chiropractic care. The idea is that if you come regularly for small adjustments to keep your body aligned, you will avoid many other ailments throughout your life and have overall improved health. They sell "care plans" like you've described above. I have an issue with this one-size-fits-all "prescription" of care... if I present with lower back pain vs. someone who's presenting for simple preventative care, why would I not be handled differently as a patient? Why would my care plan be the same as theirs? Makes no sense to me, and I get the same vibe as you... it's a sales pitch more than it is health care.

Also, some of the new age chiropractors (again, like my BIL) practice a more gentle approach. My BIL doesn't even crack joints... he has a small instrument that's pressurized and he lightly feels all over your body and then shoots you in various spots. I personally don't feel any better after he does this... I have an old lower back injury from playing competitive soccer when I was younger and it can be truly debilitating, to the point where I have to stay home from work because I can't walk. His little applicator thingy doesn't exactly get me up and on my feet.

MY chiropractor, however, is old school. I walk crawl into his office, he puts me on the table, focuses specifically on my area of pain, adjusts me, and I do feel better. And it's not a fleeting feeling, either... I can walk, go back to work, etc. He doesn't try to sell me on a 12 week or 6 month care package -- he tells me "you probably need to come again in 2 days, and we'll reevaluate at that point." And when I start feeling better, I stop going.

Sounds to me like you might be visiting my BIL's practice ;)
We have regular discussions about chiros here, and It seems that Canadian chiropractors have different training I might respect more.

I am like one of the posters above, they would not touch me with a ten foot pole.

OP, if you are in the US you work with a physical therapist at the directive of a physician. PTís are a good thing.

Super insightful! Thanks all! Yes, it does sound like this chiro is "new school" and my wife definitely doesn't have the greatest feeling. I think she was expecting the old school 'quick fix' type of chiropractor. So I guess we'll continue our search or perhaps will go the route of a PT instead

Glenstache

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2019, 01:25:01 PM »
There are some good chiropractors who can do musculoskeletal work within a limited range. There are also a ton of quacks out there. There is a lot of potential for "woo" in chiropractic training, and practice. Recommendations to see a physiotherapist above are seconded. Often times an actual therapeutic massage will be less expensive than a chiro, just as effective and can still be covered by some insurance. This obviously depends on the specific condition.

Cassie

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2019, 02:37:04 PM »
Yes I go to a old school chiropractor and I feel better when I leave. If anyone mentions treatment plan run.

JLee

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2019, 09:30:20 AM »
There was a chiropractor I went to when I was a kid, and a couple times as an adult - he'd fix any problem I had in one visit.  Sharp stabbing pain when running? Fixed in minutes.  Woke up and couldn't turn my head?  Fixed in minutes.  He's basically a sorcerer and has never asked me to come back for followups, checkups, "treatment plans" or any of that nonsense.  He'd show me what to do to prevent problems from recurring (stretching in a particular manner).  It's this guy and I simply cannot recommend him highly enough. If I recall, he specializes in sports injuries.

I've also been to one that was like "you should come here monthly for an adjustment." I noped the fuck outta that place.

big_owl

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2019, 10:13:02 AM »
I recommend The Back Mechanic by Stuart McGill.  Back problems are generally the result of poor or uninformed lifestyle choices and any relief from a chiropractor tends to just be treating the symptom vs the actual cause.  McGill's work seeks out the cause of the pain and identifies movement patterns and postural improvements to reduce the accumulative trauma on the spinal tissues (typically the disks or supporting muscles)...which are typically the source of the pain.

If someone has to go to the chiropractor regularly to treat the same painful back, the chiropractor isn't solving anything otherwise you wouldn't have to keep going back.  You have to identify the root cause of the pain.

bacchi

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2019, 10:38:09 AM »
Also, some of the new age chiropractors (again, like my BIL) practice a more gentle approach. My BIL doesn't even crack joints... he has a small instrument that's pressurized and he lightly feels all over your body and then shoots you in various spots. I personally don't feel any better after he does this... I have an old lower back injury from playing competitive soccer when I was younger and it can be truly debilitating, to the point where I have to stay home from work because I can't walk. His little applicator thingy doesn't exactly get me up and on my feet.

The actuator worked for me when I went in for a desk posture issue (shooting pain up and down my right arm). The PT, exercises, and of course changing the computer desk solved it but the pain relief from the actuator was immediate.

It must work in certain cases more than others.

kanga1622

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2019, 03:29:04 PM »
I love my Chiropractor as he does wonders for me when I can no longer deal with my pain. He is adamant that I don't see him for the same thing over and over. He is happy to provide basic exercises to help strengthen my muscles so I don't cause reinjury. And he WANTS to refer to PT if he can't "fix" the problem within a 2 week time span. That's the kind you need to find - one that understands he/she isn't the only answer and it needs to be a team approach if it is a long term injury that needs to be corrected.

RockytopinDC

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #24 on: March 30, 2019, 03:01:20 AM »
In my non-professional opinion I would vote for physical therapy. Try to avoid surgery if at all possible. Chiropracters have a very weak evidence base for the majority of practice and I would personally never choose to go to one. There are probably more beneficial ways to spend the money.

use2betrix

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Re: Chiropractor worth it?
« Reply #25 on: March 30, 2019, 05:18:16 PM »
The type of treatment really depends on the problem.

I have had two instance in my life where I have had a insanely painful acute neck/back pain that has been almost instantaneously corrected by a chiropractor. One time I had lost probably 80% ROM on my neck without excruciating pain. I had 1 adjustment and within a day or two was nearly 100%.

I recently messed my back up doing squats at the gym and saw a chiro a couple weeks ago. It was a new chiro as I recently moved. I wasnít overly impressed and he wasnít able to fix the issue. Iíll go back another time or two before I see the doctor. In the past, the few times I had been to a chiro they have always been able to fix the issue I have.


All that aside, some can certainly seem like used car salesman.. ďOh, i see your insurance has 20 yearly visits covered, look at this regular schedule for treatment we have put you on to utilize those 20 visitsĒ lol. While this last one didnít fix the issue, there was zero pressure to ever come back. He asked me if I felt better, which I did at the time, then said if I continue having issues to come back. No pressure from him or the receptionist. After the first consultation, follow ups are $40 with no insurance necessary. Since I have a high deductible it seems like a deal.