Chiropractic.....Common Misconceptions

As we filter through the periodicals, journals, and emails that arrive weekly, we are often looking for research that would apply to our chiropractic clinic in Sioux Falls, things that could be immediately applied so we can improve the services we offer to our patients. 

Today, we came across on article in one of our periodicals that discussed common misconceptions in chiropractic.  We know that approximately 80% of adults in the US will suffer from back or neck pain at some point, and it can become a chronic repetitive issue for them.  The gist of the article was that a group of chiropractors in the upper Midwest commissioned a survey to see what people thought about chiropractic, people that had suffered from neck or back pain but had not yet seen a Doctor of Chiropractic.  Here are some of their findings:

  1. 65% of those surveyed did not know they had insurance coverage for chiropractic services
  2. 70% of patients incorrectly believed that their medical doctor had to refer them to a chiropractor
  3. Those surveyed incorrectly over-estimated the costs of chiropractic care by 68%!!
  4. Those surveyed were very interested in finding the “right” chiropractor for them, someone who has been independently rated for quality assurance. 

While we weren’t surprised at #4 on this list, people more now than ever are looking to ratings by others as validation of what they should/shouldn’t try, we were surprised by how many people were completely unaware they have coverage, or how many thought referrals from their MD were required. 

We would add to this list of misconceptions.  For example, many patients we see are nervous about being told “to come back over and over again”.  We do not make this recommendation as the soup de jour in our office, if someone is told to return as part of their treatment plan, then they have an issue that requires it, otherwise we provide people with exactly what they need, nothing more, nothing less, and throughout much of our day here, we often see people get what they need in as little as a single visit.  We explain this to our patients using good ole fashioned common sense, if they were in a major car accident with severe whiplash, it is almost a certainty we will not be able to get them completely better in a single visit, or a week’s or perhaps even several month’s worth of visits.  If they simply woke up with a “kink” in their neck and they are tight and achy with a tension headache coming on as a result, chances are we will be able to clear that up much more quickly.  The point here is that it is not a one size fits all treatment plan for everyone who walks through our door.  People’s health issues are as varied as everything can be from one person to the next, so the key is to find out exactly what is wrong and then exactly what is needed to correct that problem.

Another misconception is who we treat.  We treat people of all ages and as you might guess, the treatments will vary greatly depending on age, injury/medical history, surgery history, presence of disease, etc.  For example, we will not use the same techniques to adjust a 4 year old that we would a 25 year old, and the adjustments will vary for an expectant mother who is 6 months along and experiencing back pain.  Did you know that we have tables that can be modified to accommodate an expectant mother so she can lay face down without pressure on her stomach/baby.  In fact, many often lay there and exhale a sigh as in “this feels awesome just to lay like this again”.  From there, we can work out their back problems and give them days/weeks/months of relief until they deliver. 

Another misconception is that we do not get along with medical doctors.  While this was very much the case decades ago and in particular around the time where legal action had to be taken against the AMA which was trying to crush our profession, it has become much less common today.  In our office, we work with so many medical doctors and other medical health professionals it is RARE when we come across animosity based on the fact we are chiropractors.  In fact, some of our continuing education these days is offered through the local hospital systems and provided by medical practitioners.  We freely refer back and forth with medical physicians and it is a beautiful thing to see patients be able to go where they need to go without outdated bias and discrimination. 

Another misconception is that we are not doctors.  Our training is a doctorate level program and quite vigorous.  Following undergraduate school and being admitted into the doctorate training program, we go through 10 trimesters that consist of 220 credits and 4300 contact hours.  At our alma mater, Northwestern Health Sciences University, “the doctor of chiropractic curriculum is comprised of 84 course offerings, organized by eight academic and clinical departments. The sequence provides a strong basic science basis upon which the chiropractic and clinical sciences are built.  Courses include biochemistry, anatomy, embryology, histology, immunology and microbiology, neuroscience, pathology and physiology. These courses provide a firm foundation for developing the clinical skills and knowledge needed to progress through the chiropractic school curriculum.”  We go through clinical skills, clinical pathology, and diagnosis of health/chiropractic problems, in addition to diagnostic imaging (X-Rays/MRI/CT) training.  We proceed to clinical internships where we gain valuable clinical experience in the field under the supervision of licensed and practicing doctors of chiropractic.  I recall going to chiropractic school with a medical doctor, a cardiologist who trained at Mayo and he would openly talk about how difficult our schooling was, that it was very comparable to his own training.  Throughout our schooling, we undergo a four part board exam process which is governed by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.  From there, we must obtain licensing in each state we choose to practice and after state licensure, we must meet continuing education requirements which are set forth by the state’s Board of Chiropractic Examiners. 

In addition to our training, we would point out that we have direct access to patients, we are an entry level point of care for everyone who wishes to undergo an evaluation, we are covered entities under almost every insurance carrier and in the state of South Dakota, we are recognized as Chiropractic Physicians.  At one point several years back, Dr. Tricia was actually granted hospital privileges so she could treat a patient at a local hospital.  We freely refer back and forth with all kinds of health care providers and they address us as doctors as as we do them.  Never mind that many of our patients will address us by name, we couldn’t care less about that, but when this topic comes up in a manner that questions the validity of what we do and the title of doctor, we feel we are more than qualified. 


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