Choosing a chiropractor

Dr Christopher Kent
By Christopher Kent, D.C.

Recently I discussed chiropractic care, and the critical role it plays in health and well-being. Many of you asked for some suggestions on selecting a wellness-oriented chiropractor who will help you to attain your personal health goals, and maximize your potential for experiencing life.

What NOT to do. If the best doctor for you happens to have an office nearby, that’s great. But don’t let location be the primary basis for your choice. Don’t base your selection on an attractive sign, or a large ad in the phone directory.

Important factors for choosing a wellness chiropractor:

1. 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.

2. 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:

A. 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.

B. 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.

C. 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.

3. How you will be evaluated? The focus of chiropractic is on the nervous system, which is the master control system of your body. Fortunately, there are modern, non-invasive instruments, which permit your chiropractor to objectively evaluate the function of your nerve system. One such instrument is the Insight Subluxation Station ™. This instrument includes a surface EMG, which measures the electrical activity in your muscles, and a thermal scanner, which evaluates the function of your autonomic nervous system. This is the part of your nerve system that controls your organs, glands, and blood vessels. The Insight Subluxation Station™ is registered with the FDA, and the recommended protocols and reference data are from peer-reviewed journals.

By establishing a baseline when you begin care, the information from the scans helps chart your progress. It also assists you and your chiropractor in determining how physical, biochemical, and psychological distress leads to subluxations.

Although feeling good is important to you, your care should not be based simply on whether you have pain or other symptoms. Like dental cavities, high blood pressure, and many health conditions, spinal subluxations may exist without symptoms. Objective assessments of nerve function are a must.

Some chiropractors may do additional exams, such as x-rays. X-rays should be taken only if necessary, after an examination is made.

4. What types of techniques are used? If you have been to a chiropractor before, you may have a preference for a specific technique. There are many different techniques in chiropractic. Some include adjustments by hand, low-force techniques, and adjustments using instruments. The important thing is that the right technique for you is available. Ask the doctor about what technique will be used if this is important to you.

5. Training. Educational and licensing standards for doctors of chiropractic are now standardized. Unfortunately, there are no specialty training programs specifically for wellness chiropractors. However, there are some seminar programs, such as the Total Solution ™ course, offered by the Chiropractic Leadership Alliance, which train full-spectrum, wellness-oriented chiropractors.

6. Fees. Health insurance really isn’t "health" insurance, it is illness insurance. Most health policies will only cover services that address specific conditions. If you have a specific health issue, such as back or neck pain, your insurance may pay a portion of your chiropractor’s fee. If you have no symptoms, insurance generally does not cover the cost of wellness care.

After your examination, the chiropractor should explain to you the proposed course of care, and the fees and payment options. Many wellness chiropractors are able to offer affordable fees by eliminating the cost of billing insurance.

7. If you have insurance, check to see if chiropractic care is covered, and the extent of the coverage.

The value of chiropractic care in formulating a total strategy for health and well-being is immense. The key is finding a doctor of chiropractic whose philosophy, values, and personality are compatible with yours.

About Dr. Kent

Christopher Kent, D.C., FCCI, president of the Council on Chiropractic Practice, is a 1973 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic. He is a Fellow of the College of Chiropractic Imaging, and formerly specialized in magnetic resonance imaging. Named the International Chiropractors Association (ICA) "Chiropractic Researcher of the Year" in 1991, he was the recipient of that honor from World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA) in 1994.

Dr. Kent was selected 1998 "Chiropractor of the Year" by ICA. He is a co-founder of the Chiropractic Leadership Alliance with Dr. Patrick Gentempo, Jr. Dr. Kent is also the main representative for the WCA to the Department of Public Information, affiliated with the United Nations, and chair of the NGO Health Committee. He is the author of over 100 articles in peer-reviewed and popular journals, a contributor to textbooks, and a member of the postgraduate faculties of several chiropractic colleges.


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