FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Chiropractic has been around for more than 100 years but many people still don't know what it is or how it helps people. Some of these may be your own questions.
• What is Chiropractic?
• What can I expect on my first visit?
• What conditions are treated by chiropractors?
• Can I see a chiropractor without a referral from a medical doctor?
• How can I tell if my health plan has coverage for chiropractic services?
• Sports injuries
• Work injuries
• Auto accident injuries
• Sciatic pain
• Arm and leg pain
• Loss of proper joint function
• Medicare patients
What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a branch of medicine focusing on the relationship between the structure of the body and its many functions. Any change in the body's structure can affect our ability to perform daily activities and can be the cause of symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. Chiropractic is the primary medical profession that relies on holistic and natural techniques of treatment. It does not involve itself with the administration of drugs and medicines or the performance of surgery. It is a hands-on method of treatment.
What can I expect on my first visit?
The chiropractor will ask you to complete a patient health history form. The information you provide will help the doctor to get to know you. Your description of your specific problem and a conversation with the doctor will bring the doctor closer to a diagnosis of your condition. The diagnosis determines the type of treatment you will receive. In most cases, after an examination of the affected area, treatment starts on the first visit. How many treatments will be required depends on the doctor's assessment of your condition. Be sure to present any insurance information relating to health care that can assist you with payments.
What conditions do chiropractors treat?
Chiropractic successfully treats many conditions. If yours is not a chiropractic condition, chiropractic is not likely to help you; but if yours is a chiropractic condition nothing else is likely to help you. Conditions involving the neuro-musculo-skeletal system should be checked with a chiropractor. "Neuro-" involves nerve problems exhibiting pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness. "Musculo-" means problems with the muscles resulting in pain, tightness, loss of motion, spasms, and fatigue. "Skeletal" problems are those involving the bones and joints of the body. Some of the conditions chiropractors commonly treat are headaches, sports injuries, work injuries, auto accident injuries, sciatica, leg and arm pain, and loss of proper joint function. Chiropractors treat patients of all ages from children to elderly and Medicare patients.
Can I see a chiropractor without a referral from a medical doctor?
Yes. Chiropractic is a medical specialty and a portal-of-entry healthcare delivery system. You do not need your doctor's permission or referral to see a chiropractor. However, we should explain that, if your health plan stipulates that a referral is necessary from your medical doctor, this has to do with how your health plan pays for chiropractic services. When you have a chiropractic benefit in your health plan, a referral from your primary doctor will result in your plan paying for some or most of your chiropractic visit. If you don't have a health plan, or if you have a health plan without a chiropractic benefit, or if you just opt not to use your health plan, you can see a chiropractor directly and pay for your own visit charges. Referrals are only necessary when a health plan is involved in paying for chiropractic services.
How can I tell if my health plan has coverage for chiropractic services?
You can call your health plan office by using the phone number on your member card. The person who answers should be able to answer all your questions about access to chiropractic care. They can also tell you how many visits you can have in a year. Or, you can call the chiropractic office of your choice and the staff will try to find out this information for you if you provide your plan number and ID number. Most chiropractic offices accept health plan payments as well as direct payments from patients.
Headaches have many causes, so a good evaluation must first be done. Chiropractic care is very effective with certain causes of headaches. If your headache is due to an accident or injury (even from many years ago), improper sleeping or sitting postures, age and degeneration, overwork and fatigue, or prolonged stress and tension, chiropractic treatment should be your first choice. Without subjecting you to drugs and medications that may have undesirable side effects, chiropractic adjustments are comfortable and effective in reducing and eliminating these headaches. Your chiropractor may also be able to tell you if your headaches are due to food or environmental allergies, or if they have a genetic, hormonal or metabolic cause. In these cases, the chiropractor can recommend nutritional changes or dietary supplements to support your body functions. Recommendations of rest, de-stressing activities, and exercise can also help you reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches.
Most sports are physically vigorous. A lot of energy and movement are required to perform well. Many sports involve physical contact with other players. Accidents are common and injuries result. Chiropractors treat sports injuries because restoring optimum health to athletes means they can continue to do what they enjoy. Injuries to joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves should be treated right away or long-term conditions can result.
If you suffer an injury as a result of work-related activities, you are entitled under state law to receive appropriate medical treatments, including chiropractic treatments. You should first inform your employer, supervisor, or human resources office of your injury. You will be asked to complete a form describing the injury. The employer is required to tell you what your rights are for seeking treatments. You can see the medical doctor or chiropractor of your choice. Your employer cannot require you to see a doctor that they choose for you. If you decide to seek chiropractic treatments, the chiropractor's office will help you with all the medical and legal matters of your case.
Work injuries can be the result of a sudden incident or accident such as slipping and falling on a wet floor or a stack of boxes toppling onto you. It can also be the result of repetitive motion, something you do many times a day, every day. It can also be caused by micro-trauma, small recurring impulses to joints that, over time, lead to serious joint problems.
Auto accident injuries
Auto accidents happen every day and many result in bodily injuries to drivers and passengers. Symptoms may take up to 2 weeks or longer to appear. Stiffness, achiness, headaches, numbness, neck and back pain, disorientation, anxiety or nervousness, and nausea are common symptoms following an auto accident. They signal that one or more injuries have resulted and only a qualified doctor can determine what happened and prescribe a course of treatments. The goal is to restore you to the physical state you enjoyed prior to the accident. Chiropractors can be the primary treating physicians for auto-related injuries. It is not necessary to consult with a medical doctor first or to have a referral for chiropractic care. the chiropractor can be the first and only doctor you see for treatments.
Sciatica, a radiating pain into an arm or leg, can be mild or truly disabling. Such a pain means that one or more nerves are under extreme pressure, often referred to as a "pinched nerve". Many sciatic problems have been treated successfully by chiropractors without the need to give patients drugs and medications. If your sciatica is due to a recent accident or injury, it could resolve quickly. If you have been ignoring your sciatic pain for a year or more, or if it is from age, degeneration, or arthritis, progress may be slow and full recovery could be elusive. Only the chiropractor can determine if chiropractic treatments are right for you by performing a thorough examination.
Arm and leg problems
If you experience radiating/shooting pain, loss of strength or muscle coordination, numbness, tingling, or achiness in the arm or leg, it may not be a problem of your arm or leg at all. How can that be? The arm and leg are served by a system of nerves that give you all of your feelings and control all of your arm and leg movements. If these nerves suffer injury, pressure, entanglement, or traction, you could suffer these and other symptoms. The nerves in the arm originate in the neck. The nerves in the leg originate in the low back spine. Problems in the neck and back often result in what seem like problems in the arm and leg. Wearing a knee or elbow brace may not resolve the condition because it fails to address and correct the real cause of the problem. Chiropractors are experts in joint function as well as nerve health and can not only diagnose your problem, but treat it as well.
Loss of joint function and movement
Joints are essential for movement. Without them, we would be stiff as boards. Young joints move effortlessly and painlessly. Older joints, arthritic joints, and dehydrating joints are like creaky door hinges. Their movements are accompanied by strain, weakness, pain, and an occasional noise or two. Healthy joints make life effortless because all things can be accomplished with minimal discomfort. Keeping joints healthy should be everyone's goal so that we maintain a good quality of life. Injured and deteriorating joints can be helped with the proper treatment and management. Maintenance of healthy joints is preferable to management of damaged joints. Start early to preserve joint health.
Many early childhood conditions are effectively treated with chiropractic care. Some are due to arrested physical development, trauma from the process of childbirth, and falls and accidents as infants begin their first clumsy steps toward childhood. The more active a child is, the greater the likelihood that accident injuries will happen. Children are not always able to describe their injuries or symptoms because of their limited vocabulary, so it is up to parents to be observant and to determine if their children have been adversely affected by the events in their lives. Even though a child may not be able to use the right words with the doctor, chiropractors are trained to assess their problems with a thorough and gentle physical examination.
Can chiropractors treat people on Medicare? Yes. Most people over 65 don't even realize they have a chiropractic benefit without having to ask for this coverage. If you have a medical condition that interferes with your life and livelihood, chiropractors are qualified to treat you under medical necessity. If you are Medicare eligible, you will have a 20% co-payment amount on each visit, usually between $5 and $10, depending on the doctor's treatment. Medicare pays the rest of the office charge for you. If it becomes necessary to treat you with services that are not covered in your Medicare benefits, the doctor will inform you and you can pay for those non-covered services on your own. If a doctor asks you to give up your Medicare benefits by signing a waiver form or a contract, be sure you understand what you are giving up before signing.