Chiropractic Care Contributes to 50% Reduction in Opioid Prescriptions

A new study from the Yale School of Medicine at Yale University found that chiropractic care has contributed to approximately a 49% reduction in opioid prescriptions issued in the United States. The opioid epidemic has become a huge problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people die in the United States of opioid overdoses every day. Medical expenses associated with opioid addiction and overdoses cost the country approximately $78.5 billion.

What Are the Findings from the Yale School of Medicine?

The Yale study results were presented at the American Academy of Pain Medicine’s 2019 annual meeting. Among the findings that the researchers announced included one that marks a milestone for chiropractors and their patients.

The researchers found that patients who had visited a chiropractor to alleviate musculoskeletal pain and conditions associated with it were 49% less likely to be prescribed opioid medications than people who sought care from other healthcare providers.

The gap between chiropractic care and traditional healthcare providers come as no surprise to people who understand chiropractic, which has always emphasized holistic and non-invasive treatment over drug prescriptions and surgeries.

The Yale researchers selected several studies that examined more than 60,000 patients for their analysis. The research was funded by the NCMIC Foundation and other organizations. The goal of the study was to compare the results of chiropractic treatment and mainstream medical treatment to see how their treatment of pain differed.

The results are certainly encouraging for chiropractors. They confirm what chiropractic patients have known for decades. Most people do not require addictive medications to alleviate pain, and in many cases, a course of chiropractic adjustments and treatments can be enough to minimize or eliminate pain and allow patients to return to their normal activities and lives.

What Do Clinical Guidelines Say?

As the opioid epidemic has become increasingly serious, both lawmakers and medical providers have been working to find solutions that help patients with serious pain issues while minimizing the risk of addiction.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has updated its prescription guidelines for opioid medications. Previously, the guidelines required caution only with high-risk patients. Now the guidelines:

  • Encourage doctors to find non-pharmacological solutions for pain
  • Recommend lower doses of opioids when they are deemed necessary for pain management
  • Suggests risk assessment for all patients, not just those who are considered to be high-risk
  • Provides recommended dosages for opioid drugs

In addition, they have recommended non-pharmacological options – which include chiropractic care – as “front line” treatments for pain management.

In October of 2018, the United States Congress passed bipartisan legislation to provide treatment and support for opioid addiction and to regulate the proper disposal methods for unused opioids.

The new guidelines and legislation are designed, in part, to discourage doctors from prescribing opioids when other, more conservative, treatment options are available.

Another benefit of the new guidelines is that experts hope it will drive down the cost of prescription opioids for those who truly need them. While opioids have been dangerously overprescribed, they are sometimes the best course of action for patients with cancer and other terminal illnesses that cause acute and otherwise recalcitrant pain.

How Can Chiropractic Treatment Help?

Chiropractic treatment offers patients with acute or chronic pain a non-invasive and holistic treatment method that doesn’t require addictive opioid medications or risky surgery. Chiropractors in many cases receive more classroom and clinical training than medical doctors. They learn to take a patient’s lifestyle and general health into account as they develop an individualized treatment plan.

Chiropractors have increasingly become the first treatment option for many patients who are experiencing lower back and neck pain. Their training and experience make them uniquely qualified to alleviate pain without putting their patients at risk of addiction.

In addition to treating back pain and neck pain, chiropractors often treat osteoarthritis of the hands, hips, and knees, which has been commonly treated with opioids in recent years. They can also help with sciatic nerve pain, whiplash, and pain in the extremities.

Looking forward, there’s reason to hope for more partnerships between mainstream physicians and chiropractors. The goal in every case should be to alleviate the patients’ pain in the least invasive and most holistic way possible.

Conclusion

Opioid drugs have a place in pain management, but they have been overprescribed and overused – two mistakes that have led to our current problem with opioid addiction. In the future, we hope that the benefits of chiropractic care will become clear to doctors and patients alike.

How Does the McKenzie Method Treat Back and Neck Problems?

You may have heard that the McKenzie Method is sometimes used by practitioners as a way of treating neck and back problems. The practitioners who use it know that it’s more than just a set of exercises for back pain. It’s also a specific approach to treatment spinal problems.

Simply stated, the McKenzie Method includes:

  • Initial assessment procedures for back pain
  • Treatment for back problems, including special procedures and self-help where indicated
  • Prevention strategies for back problems

In this article, we’ll explain what the McKenzie Method is and how it’s used to relieve pain associated with neck and back problems.

What is the McKenzie Method?

The McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy, or MDT, was created by a physiotherapist from New Zealand named Robin McKenzie.

There are four key steps to the McKenzie Method. Here’s a breakdown of how they work:

  1. The assessment involves the practitioner taking a thorough history of the patient’s pain and symptoms. The patient may be asked to perform movement and assume positions to aid in the diagnosis. It’s a diagnostic method that usually doesn’t require an X-ray or MRI because it’s based on movement and an in-depth conversation with the patient.
  2. The classification involves assigning the patient to one of three classifications based on their symptoms and responses during the initial assessment. The classifications include: Postural syndromes – back or neck pain caused by the continued stress of the patient’s soft tissues while maintaining certain positions or postures. Derangement syndromes – back pain that’s caused by a change in position of the vertebrae due to re-positioning of the fluid nucleus of a disc. Dysfunction syndromes – intermittent back pain caused by scar tissue in a shortened state. The pain occurs when the tissues are stressed.
  3. The treatment phase involves the practitioner recommending specific exercises to do and postures to assume or avoid. While it’s rare, some severe mechanical problems may also require hands-on treatment from the practitioner.
  4. The prevention phase occurs after the pain has been alleviated. The practitioner provides the patient with advice to prevent the recurrence of pain as well as future injuries.

It’s typical for the recommended exercises to gradually centralize and then reduce the pain caused by the back or neck injury. The McKenzie Method is seen as a non-invasive and minimalistic method for treating back pain.

Who Can Benefit from the McKenzie Method?

The McKenzie Method can help many people who experience chronic or acute back or neck pain. The McKenzie Institute provides a list of self-assessment questions to help you determine whether you should talk to a provider about the McKenzie Method.

  • Have you had more than one episode of neck or lower back pain in the past two years?
  • Does your pain increase immediately after a prolonged period of bending or stooping?
  • Do you feel worse when you sit for long periods or when you stand from a sitting position?
  • Do you associate your pain with one activity and generally feel good when you’re not participating in that activity?
  • Is your pain reduced when you’re lying face down? (There may be a brief period when the pain worsens, but if it then dissipates, you should answer yes.)
  • Are there periods in the day when you have no pain at all?
  • Is the pain occurring mostly above your knees or above your elbows?
  • Do you feel better when you’re on the move than you do when you’re inactive?
  • Does your lower back pain feel better when you’re walking?

In general, if you answered yes to four or more of these questions, the chances are high that you will benefit from the McKenzie Method.

About the McKenzie Institute

The McKenzie Institute was founded by physical therapists in New Zealand in 1982. The organization still has its international headquarters in New Zealand, but it now has branches in 26 countries around the globe.

Each branch provides services and training to practitioners who want to learn the McKenzie Method. The organization offers both a certification program and a diploma program. If you want to try the McKenzie Method, the McKenzie Institute recommends that you seek out a practitioner who’s received training from them and has a certification or diploma.

You can find a McKenzie Method provider in your area by visiting the McKenzie Institute’s list of providers, which you can find here. Remember, if your pain meets the criteria we listed above, you may be a good candidate for the non-invasive McKenzie Method.

Does Health Insurance Cover Chiropractic Care?

Do you have health insurance? If you do and you need chiropractic treatments, the chances are good that your insurance will cover at least some of the chiropractic care you need.

Approximately 20 million Americans visit chiropractors ever year for help with a variety of issues. That according to the NCCIH, which also estimates that those people spend about $4 billion dollars a year for the care they receive.

That might seem like a lot of money, but it would be higher if many insurance policies didn’t cover chiropractic care.

Many insurance carriers will cover chiropractic visits when they are to help a patient with the treatment of a short-term condition or injury. However, they typically do not pay for long-term or maintenance care.

In this article, we’ll explain how insurance plans typically cover chiropractic treatments, why they don’t usually cover maintenance chiropractic care, other limitations that may apply, and what your options are if your health insurer won’t pay for chiropractic treatments.

How Insurers Cover Chiropractic Care

Most children and adults who have insurance coverage have a policy through their employer or a marketplace plan they acquired through the Affordable Care Act. Let’s talk about each of those options and how they may impact your coverage.

Workplace insurance plans often cover some chiropractic treatments under specific circumstances. It’s difficult to generalize since there are so many different plans in place. However, it’s typical for employer plans to cover chiropractic visits if they are:

  • Medically necessary to treat an injury or condition
  • Prescribed by a doctor (If an HMO plan)

It’s common for there to be other limitations, and we’ll talk about those in the next section.

If your insurance is a marketplace or off-market policy you bought through the Affordable Care Act, your plan may also cover chiropractic care, even though the ACA does not require plans to provide chiropractic coverage.

The ACA does require plans to cover 10 essential health benefits, and one of them is rehabilitative and habilitative services. In some plans, that includes treatment by a chiropractor. Some states require coverage of chiropractic care, while others include it in their so-called “benchmark” plan, which means it must be included.

What Are Some Common Limitations on Chiropractic Care?

While many insurance plans provide coverage for chiropractic care, they also impose some limitations on the kind of care and the amount of care an individual may receive. Here are some of the most common limitations:

  • You must have a referral from your doctor for the care to be eligible (If an HMO plan)
  • Your doctor and/or chiropractor must create and follow a detailed care plan
  • You may be required to use in-network or approved chiropractors (if no out of network benefits)
  • There may be a cap on how many times you can use a chiropractor per month or per policy year

It’s important to remember that insurance companies are focused on medical necessity. If your doctor recommends chiropractic care – and if they can make a compelling case that it’s an alternative to something more expensive – your insurance company is likely to cover it.

Why Don’t Insurance Carriers Cover Maintenance Chiropractic Care?

One of the most common questions people ask about insurance and chiropractic care is why their policy doesn’t cover routine care.

The primary reason is that insurance companies want to see steady improvement when they are paying for treatments. Visiting a chiropractor can help you avoid future problems, but the insurance model is geared toward fixing health issues, not preventing them.

Does that mean you should assume your policy won’t cover chiropractic? Absolutely not. If you’re not sure what’s covered, check your policy and then call to make sure you understand how much is covered and what’s not covered.

What Can I Do if My Plan Doesn’t Cover Chiropractic Care?

What happens if you check your policy and learn that your plan doesn’t cover chiropractic care at all?

That’s a question that some patients must deal with. Chiropractic visits can cost between $30 and $200 depending on the chiropractor’s location and the treatment needed.

Here are a few options to consider:

  • Talk to your doctor to see if they can smooth things over with your insurance carrier
  • Talk to the insurance company yourself to argue your case
  • If you can afford it, buy a supplemental insurance policy that covers chiropractic care
  • Talk to your chiropractor about a price reduction or payment plan

Chiropractors want to help their patients, and many are willing to work with patients whose insurance doesn’t cover the treatments they need.

Frequently Asked Questions about Chiropractic Care

If you’re someone who has never had a chiropractic treatment before, you probably have a lot of questions about it. With that in mind, here are some of the most common questions patients have about chiropractic, together with the answers.

Q: What medical conditions do chiropractors treat?

A: Doctors of Chiropractic, or DCs for short, typically care for patient of all ages. They are most commonly known for their experience and expertise treating patients with chronic or acute back pain, neck pain, and headaches. They can also care for patients with musculoskeletal injuries and sports- related injuries, as well as conditions that affect the nervous system. They can also provide nutritional and lifestyle counseling to their patients.

Q: What training do chiropractors receive?

A: Chiropractors must have:

  • An undergraduate degree with prerequisites for chiropractic school
  • A degree from an accredited chiropractic school

Chiropractic training involves about 4,200 hours of classroom and clinical training. DCs must also pass 5 national board certification tests and meet state licensing requirements.

Q: How can I find a Doctor of Chiropractic near me?

A: You may receive a referral from your primary care physician or another health care provider but is not required to see a Chiropractor. Alternatives include using the online Find a Doctor database or asking a friend, family member, or colleague for a recommendation.

Q: Are chiropractic treatments safe?

A: Chiropractic treatment is recognized as a safe, drug-free, non-invasive therapy for the treatment of chronic pain, acute pain, and neuromusculoskeletal complaints. Of course, no health treatment is guaranteed to be free of potentially adverse effects, but the risks associated with chiropractic treatment are small. Unlike pain killers, chiropractic carries no risk of addiction and it is statistically much safer
than surgery.

Q: Do I need a referral from my MD to see a Doctor of Chiropractic?

A: Not necessarily. If you have an HMO plan then a referral is required but all PPO plans or cash paying patients can make an appointment without a referral.

Q: Can Chiropractors practice in hospitals and outpatient medical facilities?

A: Yes. Doctors of Chiropractic were first given hospital privileges in 1983. They are also allowed to work in outpatient medical facilities and order laboratory tests and X-rays for their patients.

Q: Is chiropractic treatment safe for children?

A: Yes. Chiropractic care is very gentle, non-invasive, and has a low risk of complications. It can be beneficial for children who have musculoskeletal injuries, headaches, and other medical conditions.

Doctors of Chiropractic adapt their treatments to the individual patient. You may want to seek a chiropractor who specializes in treating young patients if you think your child would benefit from chiropractic treatments.

Q: Do insurance plans cover chiropractic treatments?

A: Yes, the majority of them do. You’ll need to check your plan to see if it covers chiropractic care and also your benefits whether you have a deductible or copay, each plan varies. Your chiropractic office may be able to look into your benefits for you as well.

What are the Qualifications to be a Chiropractor?

If you’re considering chiropractic treatment to help you cope with chronic or acute pain or another health issue, you might be wondering how much training someone gets before being licensed as a chiropractor. And, it might surprise you to know that the educational and licensing requirements for chiropractic doctors (DCs) are some of the most stringent and rigorous of any health care profession.

Chiropractic School

Many Doctors of Chiropractic have four-year undergraduate degrees in pre-medical subjects like chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, physics, and psychology. Some obtain undergraduate degrees in physical therapy as well.

After that, an aspiring DC must be educated in a nationally accredited, for-year doctor graduate school program. Typically, these programs include a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom study, laboratory work, and clinical internships, which makes the classroom hours similar to what allopathic and osteopathic medical schools require of their students.

Chiropractic training involves rigorous training in many of the same things that medical doctors study. These include:

  • Human anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition
  • Public health
  • Rehabilitation

A significant percentage of the training students receive is clinical, meaning that it’s related to evaluating and caring for patients. They must complete a one-year clinical program where they treat patients and observe qualified DCs at work.

It’s important to note that, because chiropractic is a hands-on practice that requires extensive clinical training, DCs spend, on average, more time in clinical settings before they are licensed that medical doctors do. It’s where they learn the art and science of treating patients and the intricate, hands-on adjusting techniques that help them alleviate pain.

The course of study for DCs is approved by an agency recognized by the United States Department of Education and has been for more than 25 years.

Certification and Licensing

Education isn’t the only qualification to be a chiropractor. DCs must also pass a national board exam administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. The NBCE also specifies yearly continuing education requirements that DCs must meet to maintain their licenses.
In addition to passing the NBCE’s board exam, a DC must obtain a state license from the state where they wish to practice.

It may interest you to know that DCs are designated as physician-level providers in most states and with the federal Medicare program. Chiropractic services are available through:

  • The Medicaid Program
  • The US Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • The US Department of Defense
  • The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
  • The Federal Workers’ Compensation program
  • All states workers’ compensation programs

Chiropractic care is widely accepted as a method of treating a variety of ailments. In addition to providing treatment, DCs can refer patients to other health care practitioners when it is necessary.

Conclusion

Chiropractic training requirements are stringent and rigorous. To be board certified and licensed, Doctors of Chiropractic must complete thousands of hours of classroom and hands-on training to ensure that they are able to provide the best possible level of care to their patients.

Can Acupuncture Treatments Relieve Work-Related Stress?

When you think of Wall Street brokers having a power lunch, you probably imagine a dark-paneled dining room, steaks, and martinis. That’s the cultural vision of what powerful people do at lunchtime. However, there’s a new trend that’s developing and it’s one that might surprise you. Some of Wall Street’s most successful brokers are blocking out time in the middle of the work day for acupuncture.

While acupuncture might not seem like an obvious choice for financial movers and shakers, there’s actually a very good reason for its popularity. Acupuncture is commonly used as a treatment for pain, but it also provides reliable relief from the stress and tension of work.

The Rising Popularity of Acupuncture

Irina Logman is the founder of Advanced Holistic Center, a health and wellness practice based in New York. The Center has multiple locations around the country, but its Manhattan locations are the ones seeing a big uptick in stress-related appointments.

She says that the Center’s main source of income are New Yorkers working in finance. “I’ve definitely noticed an overall growing trend. When I began my practice in Brooklyn 15 years ago, I never imagined that I’d be in the hub of Wall Street treating the finance crowd… but, it makes sense.”

She points out that people who work in finance are often overworked and stressed out. Some may pop a pill or two to help them manage non-physical symptoms of anxiety, depression, or insomnia, but there’s an increasing awareness that medication is only a short-term solution.

The trend, it seems, is toward seeking out holistic and natural lifestyle changes that can help people balance their lives and emotions, leaving them better equipped to handle work challenges and still have the mental and emotional energy to enjoy their lives away from work, too.

Many of the Center’s clients book appointments during their lunch hours. It’s a way of alleviating stress and tension without needing to take a long lunch or fit an evening appointment into their family obligations.

How Does Acupuncture Relieve Stress?

The key to understanding the acupuncture trend of Wall Street is understanding how acupuncture works to relieve stress. There’s ample research into the use of acupuncture for pain relief and management, but its use as a treatment for stress is not as well-established.

People who receive acupuncture treatments for pain often report an elevated sense of relaxation and well-being after a treatment. The explanation for this is that acupuncture, when done properly:

  • Removes pain by accessing pressure points and sending healing messages to the body
  • Raises the patient’s pain threshold, thus reducing their negative reactions to pain
  • Releases happy hormones called endorphins into the body

Endorphins are the same hormones that cause the condition known as “runner’s high.” They can be released by any vigorous exercise.

When your body or mind are stressed, you’re in “fight or flight” mode, which means that your body’s sympathetic nervous system is at the wheel. When that happens, it’s virtually impossible to relax because your entire body is poised for combat.

Endorphins flip a switch in your body and put the parasympathetic nervous system, or relaxation system, in control. As stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol leave your body, you’ll experience a subsequent relaxation of your muscles and your mind.

The Keys to a Good Acupuncture Relationship

Logman points out that even when Wall Street’s power brokers seek out acupuncture, there’s a learning curve involved. After all, acupuncture is an invasive procedure. People who aren’t accustomed to it may need some time to acclimate.

For that reason, she recommends having a good talk with your acupuncturist before initiating treatment. “Especially for first-timers, [there are] many different sensations. The practitioner should always create an environment where the patient feels free to describe these sensations and ask if they are normal.”

For patients who prefer a less-invasive procedure, Logman sometimes recommends using heat lamps that hover over the most stressed and painful parts of the body. As patients progress, she may move on to something called e-stim, which partners traditional acupuncture needles with a gentle electric impulses to stimulate the muscles.

Whatever your treatment preferences, it’s always a good idea to choose a practitioner who makes you feel comfortable.

Conclusion

Wall Street’s elite are seeking out alternative treatments for stress. While medications that treat anxiety, depression, and pain may offer short-term solutions, there’s a growing trend toward holistic treatments that can relieve stress and anxiety without the use of prescription drugs. Acupuncture may be the best way to keep stress at bay.

Are Your Fashion Choices Contributing to Back Pain?

Back pain is the most common type of chronic pain, both in the United States and around the world. According to the American Chiropractic Association, half of all working adults in the US report experiencing back pain at least once a year. A whopping 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives.

How can we make sense of those numbers? Perhaps the most important thing to do is to understand the small decisions you make every day that may cause or contribute to back pain. For some people – and for women in particular – the issue may begin when they decide what to wear in the morning.

High Heels and Back Pain

The first fashion culprit when it comes to back pain probably won’t surprise you. Wearing high heels might make your legs look great, but it’s not doing your spine any favors. High heels force your feet into an unnatural position by pushing your toes down and to the front. Elevating your heels applies pressure to the ball of your foot, which can be painful. The balls of your feet aren’t meant to support your body weight over an entire day.

Wearing high heels can cause bunions, a painful condition that pushes the bone on the side of your big toe out while pushing your toes together. It also shortens your calf muscles. That’s a problem because it changes your gait, causing your back to arch and requiring you to use your back muscles to remain upright.

The bottom line is that high heels put pressure on your toes, back, and even your neck and shoulders. A better alternative if you want some added height is to wear platform shoes with no more than two-inch heel in the back.

Backless Shoes and Back Pain

Mules, or backless shoes, are always popular – but wearing them may be putting too much strain on your back. There are several reasons that wearing them might not be a good idea:

  • They do not provide good arch support
  • They don’t always stay on your feet
  • They can tighten the arch of your foot and alter your gait
  • Altering your foot position and gait can impact your spine

Does that mean you should never wear mules? No, but it does mean that you should choose your mules with care and wear them only when you don’t have a lot of walking to do. One of the best ways to test a mule is to put it on and then shake your foot. If the shoe stays on your foot, you probably won’t need to scrunch your toes while you walk.

You should also try walking in mules before you buy them. If you find that you can’t walk with your natural, long stride, then look for another pair.

Handbags and Back Pain

Carrying a handbag or purse is second nature to most women, but it turns out that even carrying a small bag can strain your back, neck, and shoulders.

The obvious culprit is weight. If you’re carrying an oversized handbag, laptop bag, or purse, the weight can pull down on your shoulder, putting strain on both your spine and your neck. You can minimize the risk of developing back pain by lightening your load. For example, you might downsize your purse or try leaving certain items at home or in the office instead of carrying them back and forth every day.

Even a small bag can be problematic. If you’ve ever found yourself hunching your shoulder to keep your bag’s strap from slipping off, you might be putting unnecessary strain on your shoulder, neck, and back. As an alternative, you might try a small backpack or cross-body bag.

Cell Phones and Back Pain

Finally, you may want to rethink the way you use your cell phone. While it’s not really a fashion accessory in the same way shoes and handbags are, few of us leave home without a cell phone.

The problem is in how we hold our phones. If you’re holding your phone in your hand and bending your neck to look at it, you’re putting pressure on your cervical spine. Over time, this can lead to a condition called “text neck.”

The solution? Hold your phone in one hand, rest your elbow against your abdomen, and hold your phone up and in front of you, so you can see it without bending your neck. That way, your spine can remain in proper alignment while you check your texts.

Conclusion

If you want to prevent back pain, start with your wardrobe. Replacing high heels with platforms, minimizing the time you spend wearing backless shoes, choosing the right handbag, and changing the way you hold your cell phone will ensure that your back stays in proper alignment throughout the day.

What Does the VA’s Whole Health Model Say About the Future of Chronic Pain Treatment?

Chronic pain doesn’t get as much attention as some high-profile diseases, but it affects more than 50 million Americans every year according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.) Chronic pain can have impact far beyond the physical pain it causes, impacting your ability to work, sleep, and enjoy personal time with your family and friends.

Whole Health is a new initiative from the VA that looks at chronic pain in a holistic way. By understanding the impact that chronic pain can have, it hopes to provide much-needed relief – and may point the way forward for others in the medical field to treat chronic pain.

What is the Whole Health Model?

The goal of the Whole Health Model is to evaluate each patient and provide a “personalized and patient-driven experience” that’s designed to help an individual coping with chronic pain to live the best, most productive life possible.

Some of the services that Whole Health includes are:

  • Yoga classes
  • Tai chi classes
  • Diet and nutrition classes
  • Mindfulness classes
  • Acupuncture treatments
  • Spinal manipulation

In other words, the primary goal is to provide non-pharmaceutical and non-invasive ways for patients to manage their pain.

The VA offers group classes that encourage congregation and socialization, both of which can help people cope with chronic pain. There’s evidence to show that pain is exacerbated by loneliness and depression.

How Can Whole Health Help Non-Veterans?

While the Whole Health Model is specifically for United States military veterans, the program itself offers a roadmap for healthcare professionals who treat chronic pain.

In the world of chiropractic, the idea of finding non-pharmacological and non-surgical ways of reducing and managing chronic pain is not new. In fact, it’s the driving philosophy behind what we do.

However, some mainstream physicians still default to prescribing pain medication and recommending surgery instead of attempting less invasive methods of pain management first.

The hope is that the doctors in the VA who are in a position to see the beneficial effects of Yoga, tai chi, mindfulness training, and spinal manipulations will spread the word to their colleagues outside of the VA. If they do, then the Whole Health Model could become the gold standard for how we treat chronic pain going forward.

Because chronic pain affects so many people in the United States and around the world, it’s essential that we find effective ways to treat it. That’s especially true when you consider how the over-prescription of opioid pain medications have led to the huge opioid addiction problem that is currently impacting many people around the country. Ultimately, pain medicine only treats the symptom of pain without addressing the underlying issues causing it.

Conclusion

The VA’s Whole Health program offers hope to military veterans who need practical, non-invasive methods to manage their physical pain. In the future, it may also provide guidance to doctors operating outside the VA who are struggling to find ways to help their patients who live with chronic pain every day.

20 Simple Ways to Be a Smart Chiropractic Patient

If you live with chronic pain and you’re considering making your very first chiropractic appointment, you might be wondering about the best way to choose a chiropractor. You might also be thinking about what questions you should ask to help you make the most of your chiropractic treatments.

We’re here to help. Here are 20 things you can do, both before and during your first appointment.

How to Find a Chiropractor in 6 Steps

The first step in seeking chiropractic treatment is finding a qualified chiropractor near you. Here are some ways you can find someone who’ll be able to help you.

Ask your friends, family, and coworkers for recommendations. You may be surprised by how many people you know have a chiropractor to recommend. Write down the names. It’s always a good idea to get several recommendations, so you have options available to you.

  1. Ask your doctor for a recommendation or an opinion. Some MDs have old-fashioned ideas about chiropractic, but your doctor may have a recommendation. If not, you can still ask for an opinion of any chiropractor you’re considering. Even if your doctor is vague, you can learn a lot from their body language and tone.
  2. Google all potential chiropractors. You can learn a lot from a simple Google search. For example, you can find patient reviews and complaints as well as information about what treatments they offer and where their practice is located. Pay attention to negative reviews and whether the chiropractor or a staff member responded to resolve the patient’s issue. You don’t want an unresponsive chiropractor.
  3. Check to make sure that your chiropractor is licensed by the state where you live. Most states have rigorous licensing requirements that include continuing education and ethics guidelines.
  4. Look up your chiropractor’s professional certifications. http://www.cce-usa.org/
  5. Finally, check to see if there have been any complaints made against your chiropractor.

These six steps can help you narrow down your choices and find a qualified, compassionate chiropractor in your area.

14 Questions to Ask Your Chiropractor

Both when you call to make an appointment and when you’re face-to-face with your chiropractor, it’s essential to ask questions to ascertain the kind of treatment you’ll be getting and what qualifications the chiropractor has to treat your condition effectively.

  1. Do you offer a free consultation? Many chiropractors offer a free initial consultation, so you can ask questions and get a feeling for their practice and personality. You may choose a chiropractor who doesn’t offer this service, but it’s a nice benefit and a good way to narrow your choices.
  2. What post-graduate degrees and training do you have? Chiropractors are not medical doctors, but they do receive extensive training. You should choose a doctor who has a commitment to ongoing education. Someone with at least one graduate degree is preferable to someone who has only minimal training.
  3. How often have you treated people with my condition? Chronic pain has many causes. It’s always a good idea to find out how much experience a chiropractor has treating people with your condition. Some doctors have extensive experience with sports injuries but only minimal experience with other injuries.
  4. What treatments do you commonly use for people with my condition? Even among chiropractors, opinions may differ on which treatments and solutions are the most effective. Asking this question allows you to get a feeling for how a particular chiropractor would approach treating your pain.
  5. Do you prefer forceful or gentle manipulation? Spinal manipulations are a common form of chiropractic treatment. Some doctors use a forceful technique that produces the “crack” that many of us associate with chiropractic treatments, while others prefer a gentler approach. This question will ensure that you know what to expect.
  6. Will you work with me to develop a treatment plan that I’m comfortable with? Really what you’re asking here is if the doctor will respect your wishes about treatment. For example, a chiropractor may prefer gentle manipulation, but if you have a specific request, you want to make sure that they’ll accommodate it before you pay for their services.
  7. How much experience do you have with this technique? If a chiropractor recommends a specific technique, ask how often they’ve done it. There are a lot of techniques out there and you don’t want a chiropractor to be learning a new technique at your expense.
  8. How long will my treatment last? A good chiropractor should be able to give you an estimate of how long it will take for you to complete treatment. But, be wary of any doctor who insists on sticking to a rigid timetable. Your body is unique, and your treatment plan should be, too.
  9. Do you do X-rays in your office when necessary? In many cases, X-rays are not necessary for chiropractic treatment. You should avoid any doctor that automatically takes an X-ray of every patient.
  10. How much will my treatment cost? It’s always a good idea to get an estimate of how much your treatment will cost. Because the treatment plan won’t be carved in stone, your costs may not be either. However, you should be able to get an idea of your total cost before you start.
  11. How does billing work? A good chiropractor’s office will have a simple billing system and the ability to work with your insurance company as needed to facilitate payments.
  12. What can I do to give my treatment the best possible chance of working? A truly individualized plan will look at everything from your exercise routine to your sleeping position and your diet to maximize your chances of success.
  13. Does your practice offer other services? Some chiropractic practices offer additional, related surgeries like massage therapy, acupuncture, and physical therapy, and nutritional counseling. If you think these things may be useful to you, then you may want to choose a practice that offers them.
  14. 20. Will you refer me to a specialist if necessary? The final question to ask is whether the chiropractor can recognize when a problem is too complex or serious for them to handle alone.

Just as your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist, your chiropractor should be willing and ready to do the same thing if it is necessary.

Asking these questions will help you get a feel for the chiropractor you are considering. Pay attention to the doctor’s tone, demeanor, and words.

Conclusion

The 20 steps we’ve outlined here will help you identify and choose a professional and qualified chiropractor to help you manage your chronic pain and live your best, most productive life.

Can Chiropractors Help Relieve Migraine Pain?

Usually, people see their chiropractors for a very specific reason – because they have back pain or even a stiff neck. They might even go if their hips or knees hurt since they know that an adjustment will help. However, people rarely consider going for things like migraines. This needs to change because chiropractors can indeed relieve migraine pain.

Your Pain May Stem From Your Neck

You’re probably already aware of the fact that a chiropractor can align the bones in your neck, especially the ones that connect with the skull, in order to relieve pain. With that said, you probably didn’t know that those can cause headache pain. Although some migraines are caused by things like hormonal shifts and nutrition (both things that a chiropractor can coach you on – more on that later) sometimes all that it takes is sleeping wrong and hurting your neck to cause a migraine. Thankfully, this can be avoided with proper neck support while sleeping and some new pillows. In the meantime, you’re still stuck with your migraine pain. A chiropractor can help with this by adjusting your neck (and even your back, since everything in your body is connected) in order to relieve your pain.

Determining the Cause of the Pain

Did you know that there are 22 different bones in the skull? Although these bones are fused together in adults, this doesn’t mean that they can’t cause your pain. We already discussed your neck and how sometimes headaches can come from there, but in other cases, the sources could be what you eat, how much stress that you’re under, and even from problems with the bones in your face and skull. Your chiropractor may ask you to keep a diary or log in order to see how your behaviors and routines affect
your migraines. This can help determine if there are any types of triggers.

Cranial Facial Releases and Massage

If your chiropractor determines that your migraine pain isn’t coming from your neck or even your diet, then he or she may perform a procedure called a cranial facial release. This is exactly what it sounds like… kind of. The procedure involves doing a light massage that also readjusts all of the bones in the face and skull. This is much less violent than it sounds, and it is nothing like the other bodily adjustments that a chiropractor does. Instead, the procedure is calming and includes things like massaging certain parts of the face to ensure that all of those bones are where they need to be.

If you suffer from migraines and are tired of taking medication for them, then it’s time to see a chiropractor. By keeping a log of your migraines, your chiropractor will be able to determine exactly what your triggers are. Also, if he or she decides that your migraines stem from a misalignment in your neck, back, or face, they can perform the necessary adjustments in order to curb your pain.

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