This article first appeared in Today's Dallas Woman, Apr. 1998

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Answers to Your Chiropractic Questions

Chiropractic care. What's it all about? Why would I need to see a chiropractor? Who are chiropractors and what do they know? These are just a few of the questions that might run through the mind of someone who is unfamiliar with the health care services available with a chiropractor. Use the following Q and A to understand some of the questions you've had in the back of your mind. Or, as a springboard to discover if chiropractic care is a choice for you.

Q. How many people visit chiropractors, and how happy are they with the results?

A. According to the latest Gallup Poll conducted for the American Chiropractic Association, over 18 million Americans have sought chiropractic care.

Of those, ninety percent considered their treatment effective, 80% were satisfied with the services received and 73% felt that most or all of their expectations were met. Patients are more satisfied with chiropractic treatments for back problems than with any other form of care, according to a recent Harris Poll.

Q. Will an adjustment from a chiropractor be painful?

A. Modern chiropractic methods are very safe, gentle and effective. In fact, chiropractors pay the least malpractice insurance of any of the major health professions because the treatments are so safe.

There are no invasive procedures or drug misuses. In addition, chiropractic treatments have very little risk or side effects.

Q. What kind of training do chiropractors receive?

A. Chiropractors attend 2-4 years of pre-chiropractic schooling and 4 years of chiropractic college, which contains a curriculum of more than 4200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience.

Chiropractic students study from many of the same books as medical students and have many of the same classes as medical school.

However, medical students study more about pharmacology, toxicology and surgery, while chiropractic students focus more on how the body works i.e. physiology, neuromusculoskeletal system, and biomechanics.

Chiropractic students are required to serve an internship, and must pass four parts of a national board and a state board.

Like medical doctors, chiropractors are required to attend continuing education classes. In addition, chiropractors are recognized by Medicare, Medicaid, worker's compensation, personal injury auto insurance and health insurances.

Q. Once I start going to a chiropractor, do I have to go forever?

A. At first, a patient may need to come in for treatments more frequently as their body becomes reaccustomed to its normal state of health. Then the visits become less frequent.

Most people who go to a chiropractor on a regular basis do so because it keeps them healthy.

Q. Why are some people skeptical about the benefits of chiropractic?

A. Chiropractic care is based on the relationship of the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. This does not require a belief.

Thus, someone who says they do not "believe" in chiropractic is probably saying they do not understand the underlying scientific principles on which it is based. Anatomy shows us that the brain controls everything in the body - all muscles, organs and systems.

The brain communicates with the body by sending messages throughout the nervous system. The nervous system goes down the spine.

Nerves radiate out at different levels of the spine and control certain muscles and organs to control them. If the spine is misaligned the nerves may become irritated causing pain, numbness, tingling and even organ dysfunction.

Chiropractors are highly trained to diagnose the cause of a problem so they can treat it or refer the patient to someone that can.

In many cases chiropractic can be more effective and less costly in treating lower back and neck problems than traditional medical care. You don't have to live with pain. If you have not tried chiropractic, then you have not tried everything!

Suzan J. Smith, D.C., is a chiropractor in Carrollton. She teaches yoga classes on a regular basis. She has released a yoga video for beginners and intermediates and a second yoga video for pregnant women.

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