The secret to well-adjusted families
A beginner’s guide to seeing a chiropractor, for adults and kids
Most people don’t think about visiting a chiropractor until they are in pain. But there are many reasons why chiropractic care may be a benefit for you, and for your kids, even if you don’t have a sore back at the moment. What can seeing a chiropractor offer your family? Here’s what you need to know.
How chiropractic works
Chiropractic care is a form of alternative medicine that uses no medication or surgery to produce results. Instead, a chiropractor uses hands-on techniques to manipulate and adjust spinal vertebrae that have become misaligned, usually as the result of injury, bad posture, or repetitive stress. As the American Chiropractic Association explains, “Chiropractic is a natural form of health care that uses spinal adjustments to correct misalignments and restore proper function to the nervous system, helping your body to heal naturally.”
Many adults visit chiropractors because they are seeking pain relief for back, neck, join pain or headaches, especially migraines. According to the National Institutes of Health, research backs up chiropractic’s effectiveness in these areas. Other people use chiropractic care to address health issues that are connected to the nervous system, including fibromyalgia, attention deficit disorder in children, depression, immune system issues and more. You can read and hear about all kinds of chiropractic success stories, but mainstream studies on chiropractic for treating these types of conditions, however, tend to be small or inconclusive.
Finding a chiropractor
Chiropractors have attended four years of chiropractic college, hold a license to practice, and have passed national board examinations. Many insurance companies cover chiropractic treatments as part of standard care. One survey of insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act found that a majority offered some kind of chiropractic benefit. A single standard chiropractic visit can cost anywhere from $25 to $75 or more. Some chiropractors may offer sliding scale fees to make treatment more affordable.
To find a chiropractor, check online for reviews, get word of mouth recommendations, and keep your eyes peeled the next time you are at a local wellness fair. If you see someone with a long table and a skeleton prop, chances are you’ve found a chiropractor.
Your first visit
At your first visit, your chiropractor may take X-rays and will ask you questions about your health and the issues that brought you there. The chiropractor will also take time to educate you about neck and spinal adjustments, what it can help with, and how it can help address the issues you are facing.
The adjustment itself can be compared to getting a massage, except you remain fully clothed. And the technique is very different as the chiropractor goes through a series of manipulations to your neck and spine to correct alignment. An adjustment is not supposed to hurt, though it can be unnerving to hear the sound of your vertebrae moving back into place. Dr. Cindy Lanzara, a chiropractor at Results Chiropractic in Nashua, prepares her patients by telling them that they might hear a sound like “popcorn popping.”
Some people feel instant relief after an adjustment, for others it takes time, and multiple adjustments. As Dr. Lanzara said, once you feel relief, the key to staying pain-free is maintenance. “Some patients come in until they are pain-free, this is referred to as relief care; others choose…to maintain the level of health they have achieved, hence they return for periodic spinal check-ups. [It’s] just like the importance of regular check-ups for your eyes, teeth, blood pressure, and cholesterol.”
Kids and chiropractic
For children, chiropractic care can start from birth. “Often times the birth process can cause spinal misalignments,” Lanzara said. “If a spinal misalignment is detected early and corrected, the child will be able to develop a good spinal structure. It’s similar to dental checkups…the earlier you begin caring for your teeth, the lesser the risk for tooth decay and cavities. The same concept goes for your spine.” Different techniques (more like gentle massage) are used for small children.
As kids grow, chiropractic can be used to help combat ear infections. A clogged ear that’s not draining properly is often a sign of misaligned vertebrae. A chiropractic adjustment can help the ear drain normally, avoiding infection — and antibiotics.
Other pediatric health issues chiropractors treat include ADD symptoms, usually combined with nutritional therapy. For children involved in sports, chiropractic is often used to provide relief for bumps and bruises, and may be viewed as “complimentary care” to physical therapy.
Sound like something you are interested in learning more about? To find the right chiropractic doctor for your child, look for chiropractors who belong to the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (www.icpa4kids.org). For general information about chiropractic care for all ages, contact the NH Chiropractic Association (www.nhchiropractic.org).
Jacqueline Tourville is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives on the Seacoast.