Chiropractic Care in the Healthcare System: All You Need to Know

Danny | Posted On: October 30, 2020

Chiropractic care is a popular pain relief alternative for muscular system problems, bones, joints, and connective tissues. Medical doctors usually recommend getting chiropractic treatment in conjunction with conventional medical treatment to enhance its effects—promoting better health and overall well-being.

However, individuals can also separately use chiropractic services, with most resorting to it to treat musculoskeletal discomfort, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, joint pain, and headaches. 

Professionals providing these services are called doctors of chiropractic (DCs) or chiropractors. Chiropractic is an official healthcare profession that revolves around treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system, nervous system, and the secondary conditions of these disorders in general health. 

Chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and other all-natural alternative treatments. They follow the 'holistic' approach to health, meaning they aim to align the body's musculoskeletal structure, particularly the spine, to help the body heal itself without medication or surgery. Through their whole-person or patient-centered approach, chiropractors elevate family health and wellness by helping people of all ages live more fully, actively, and pain-free. 

Although the chiropractic practice is relatively well-known, many are still confused about its role in the health care system. To help you out, here's everything you need to know about it. 

Is Chiropractic Care Considered Health Care?

The first state law in the United States licensing chiropractors was passed in 1913 and has expanded since then. Today, over 50 states permit these professionals to provide chiropractic treatment under their health care practice acts. Additionally, the districts of Colombia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and other countries have included chiropractic treatment as part of their health care programs. But you may wonder, is it considered 'health care?' 

Health care refers to the work done by healthcare professionals providing primary, secondary, and tertiary care. Since chiropractic is recognized as a healthcare profession and several countries offer the practice under their health care acts, it is indeed considered health care. There are currently over 60,000 licensed chiropractors in America, making it the third-largest doctoral-level healthcare profession, just behind dentistry and traditional medicine. 

Below are chiropractic healthcare forms that chiropractors offer their patients seeking health and wellness, pain relief, and management. 

Spinal Manipulation: Primary Form of Chiropractic Healthcare

Although many accept chiropractic practices openly in today's healthcare system, people have criticized the scientific merit of the medical benefits of spine manipulation for neurological and musculoskeletal conditions in its early days. Many people slowly started to accept it, using an alternative treatment for back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, sprains, muscle strains, and other musculoskeletal conditions. 

Additionally, plenty of research and evidence has shown that spinal manipulation is a relatively safe all-natural pain reliever for several conditions, including lower back pain and headaches. Recent health care guidelines have listed chiropractic as a viable treatment option for symptoms that don't respond well to self-care or traditional medicine. 

The practice has significantly evolved since the first high-velocity spinal adjustment performed by DD. Palmer in the 1800s. Moreover, today's chiropractors have started to use various evidence-based approaches to mitigate spine issues. They now use adjustments involving hands and specialized instruments and machines. 

Besides chiropractors, some medical doctors, physical therapists, and doctors of osteopathic medicine also perform spinal manipulation but on a lesser scale. 

Newer Chiropractic Practices 

Chiropractic healthcare has expanded from spinal manipulation and now include other manual therapies, including massages, exercises, nutritional or postural programs, and instrument-assisted or hands-on soft tissue mobilization. Moreover, chiropractors also use a different approach to mechanical diagnosis, treatment, and stabilization. 

Other newer methods that are not practiced by many chiropractors due to newer appropriateness and efficiency. These include spinal decompression, treating young children with spinal manipulation, and using chiropractic techniques to treat allergies, asthma, digestive issues, infections, and other less commonly treated conditions in their practice. 

What is A Chiropractic Health Screening?

Health screenings are medical tests that medical professionals use to check their patients for existing diseases or health conditions before any signs and symptoms emerge. Doing this helps them find problems early on, allowing them to provide the appropriate treatment plan for each patient. In chiropractic screening, the intention is the same, and chiropractors usually discuss their patient's history with them and evaluate if the patient can benefit from chiropractic treatment. 

Since each patient has specific concerns, needs, and health questions, it's hard to say how long chiropractic screening will take. However, in general, the initial screen can last from 30 to 45 minutes. After the first consultation, follow-up chiropractic appointments can only last between 10 to 20 minutes. 

To give you a better idea of how chiropractic screening goes, here's the gist of what chiropractors do to their patient during the process: 

Understanding Patient's Medical History and Symptoms

Patients need to fill out forms that give chiropractors the appropriate medical background information about their pre-existing conditions and current symptoms to help them prepare for the chiropractic consultation. Typical questions chiropractors may ask include:

  • When did the pain start?
  • How did it start?
  • Where do you feel it often?
  • Describe the pain—does it sting, burn, or throb?
  • Does the sensation come and go, or is it continuous?
  • Do you think it started as a result of a recent injury?
  • What things do you do in your routine that makes the discomfort better or worse?

Chiropractors will also ask patients to provide details about family health history or other existing medical conditions or injuries, and previous treatments they used provided by other medical professionals. 

The Chiropractic Exam

Chiropractic screenings usually include general tests you'd find in traditional medicine settings, including blood pressure, pulse check, respiration, and reflex. However, chiropractors perform unique tests to the practice, such as neurological and orthopedic examinations, to assess the range of motion of the body parts experiencing pain, tone and strength of muscles, and neurological integrity. 

Chiropractors may also do other chiropractic tests to assess the affected area more, like having the patient walk or move in a specific manner and posture analysis.

Diagnosing 

Depending on the patient's medical history and chiropractic examination results, diagnostic studies can help chiropractors reveal pathologies and identify structural issues to diagnose the condition more accurately. Chiropractors usually do this using x-rays, which allows them to diagnose recent traumas, spondyloarthritis, and progressive spinal deformities like scoliosis. 

However, remember that chiropractors should only do x-ray studies if they have a good reason to provide more information needed in making an efficient patient treatment plan. That's because x-rays use radiation, and the associated risks can be fatal, so it's best to limit the use of it—and use only when it's medically necessary.

For soft tissue diagnosis, chiropractors will recommend you getting an MRI scan, an intensive imaging study. They will usually refer you to an outside center for this. 

Patient Diagnosis after the Chiropractic Screening

The results or findings from the patient's physical examinations, medical history, and diagnostic tests typically help the chiropractor to pinpoint the specific condition the patient has. Once they establish a specific diagnosis, the chiropractor can determine if it can respond well to chiropractic care. That's because certain medical conditions like fractures, tumors, and infections can't be treated with chiropractic techniques and need a specialist doctor's treatment. 

At the end of the initial consultation, the chiropractor will explain the patient's diagnosed condition, treatment plan, and the program's anticipated length. Additionally, some chiropractors provide all the discovered information in written form to allow their patients to think about their options and conduct their research. 

Does Health Insurance Cover A Chiropractor?

Chiropractic treatments are usually included in most health insurance plans, including major ones, such as workers' compensation, Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross Blue Shield plans for federal employees. Insurance also covers the chiropractic needs of active-duty members of the armed forces at over 60 military bases and veterans at 36 medical facilities dedicated to them. 

However, keep in mind the chiropractic is a form of complementary alternative medicine, meaning coverage for chiropractic treatments vary as much as seasonal trends in the industry. For instance, medical insurance covers basic chiropractic treatment and spine manipulation. However, insurance doesn't cover the physical examination, x-ray fees, physical therapy, orthopedic devices, and evaluation services. 

That's why if you're reliant on insurance, before scheduling an appointment with a chiropractor, call your insurer or examine the fine print of your plan if chiropractic treatment is covered. 

Finding A Chiropractor 

If you're looking for a reliable chiropractor to help you out, Dr. Jacob Tucker has got your back. He's a specialist chiropractor based in Lincoln, Nebraska, providing chiropractic care and treatment for pain management and relief for various health conditions, ranging from physiological to psychological disorders. Dr. Tucker aims to help his patients unlock their body's true healing potential through all-natural chiropractic practices. 

He performs precise, swift, and careful spinal adjustments, which boosts immunity, restores range of motion, improves mobility, and provides overall better family health and quality of life. Besides standard chiropractic treatments, Dr. Tucker also provides pregnancy chiropractic care, spinal decompression, and restore bodily functions affected due to auto accident injuries.

Achieve optimal health and wellness by booking a consultation with Dr. Jacob Tucker for a healthier, happier, and pain-free lifestyle.

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