Know what to expect and check the license
Chiropractic is a health care profession that emphasizes a patient-centered approach without drugs or surgery, and focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems and their effects on patient health.
Doctors of chiropractic (D.C.) are licensed and regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Board of Chiropractic Examiners. The Board’s mission is to protect the health, welfare, and safety of the public through licensure, education, and enforcement in chiropractic care.
What Is Chiropractic Care?
The chiropractic approach is prevention-based care, focusing on diet, exercise, and lifestyle, and emphasizes natural methods to wellness. A typical chiropractic visit may include evaluation, adjustments—which are manual or mechanical manipulations of a joint (especially the spine)—and other therapeutic methods to optimize health and function of the spine and/or arms and legs. It is most often used to treat neuromusculoskeletal conditions, such as problems with nerves, muscles, joints, bones, or connective tissues such as cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. Chiropractic care can be used to treat a variety of ailments and injuries, including:
- Neck, shoulder, and back pain.
- Pain, numbness, tingling in the arms, hands, legs, or feet.
Requirements for chiropractic licensure in California include earning a doctor of chiropractic degree from a Board-approved chiropractic college as well as passing both the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners’ and California Chiropractic Law examinations.
After discussing a patient’s issues and conducting an appropriate examination, chiropractors have the ability to diagnose most conditions and will make appropriate referrals when necessary.
The main form of treatment in a chiropractic office is a spinal adjustment, which may be performed with just the hands or with a handheld instrument or device. Other methods may be used along with the adjustment to enhance it, including:
- Rehabilitation and therapeutic exercises/activities.
- Self-care recommendations and guidance.
- Therapeutic ultrasound.
- Ergonomic counseling.
- Electrical muscle stimulation.
- Manual trigger point therapy.
- Low-level laser/cold laser.
What To Expect
At your first appointment, your chiropractor should thoroughly review your health history with you. Be sure to discuss your specific symptoms. Your chiropractor should also conduct a complete diagnostic exam, which may include general tests such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and reflexes, as well as specific orthopedic and neurological tests to assess range of motion of the affected area of the body, muscle tone, muscle strength, or neurological integrity. Additional diagnostic studies may also be used including X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, blood tests, or urinalysis. Once the diagnosis is established, your chiropractor will determine if your condition will respond to chiropractic care. At the end of your initial visit, your chiropractor should explain your diagnosis, recommend an individualized chiropractic treatment plan, advise you of the anticipated length of chiropractic care, and review costs and payment plan options.
Do Your Homework
You can choose a chiropractor through referrals from friends, family, or your health care provider. Before seeking treatment, ask about medical referrals, costs and coverages, and payment options.
Before your visit, check the chiropractor’s license on DCA’s website at https://search.dca.ca.gov or by calling DCA’s Consumer Information Center toll-free at (800) 952-5210 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Checking a professional’s license can also reveal if the license is on probation or has any disciplinary action against it. Chiropractic doctors must renew their license annually and post it in plain view for consumers to see.
If you have concerns about a chiropractor, try to resolve any issues directly with your chiropractic office. However, if you feel your chiropractor violated state laws or guidelines, you can file a complaint by using the Online Complaint Submission form or by completing a Consumer Complaint form and submitting it by mail, email, or fax.
For more information, download the free brochure “A Consumer’s Guide to Chiropractic Care” from the Board’s website.