Q: What is chiropractic exactly?
A (Dr. Bryan Johnson): Because of its importance, the spinal cord is the only organ in the entire body that is completely encompassed in bones as a protective measurement. When those bones misalign, it puts pressure on the nerves. This can cause pain, but it can also cause dysfunction in the body. A chiropractor’s main goal is to realign the spinal column to make sure that the nervous system functions at its highest efficiency. Despite the common belief, we do not just focus on back pain.
Q: What does chiropractic treatment normally entail?
A (Dr. Bryan Johnson): In my office, treatment starts with a thorough evaluation. Using a set of x-rays, I am able to do an analysis so that we know the exact problems and the extent of the spinal misalignment. Based on that analysis, I then perform the adjustments to the spine using my hands. This is known as a “manual adjustment”. I move the bones back into position using short, quick movements called “thrusts”. I can also perform extremity adjustments as well, so that can cover your shoulders, elbows, wrists, feet and hands.
Q: In what instances should I see a chiropractor instead of a doctor?
A (Dr. Bryan Johnson): There has been a campaign started known as “Chiropractic First”. This is because chiropractic should be something that everyone looks into, not only to combat daily aches and pains, but to boost their immune and nervous system function. It is not a “magic potion” or a “cure-all”, but it is a very simple way to make sure that your spine is in proper alignment and your nerves are working correctly. This can lead to a reduction in doctor’s visits over your lifetime.
When a patient first visits my office, I will conduct a full assessment. I want to be sure that their issue can be treated with chiropractic. Avoiding prescription drugs and surgery is in everyone’s best interest. Therefore, you should visit a chiropractor first to make sure your issue is not something that we could handle.
Q: I have heard horror stories about people seeing chiropractors and their problems worsening. How are you different and is chiropractic treatment safe?
A (Dr. Bryan Johnson): Chiropractic treatment is absolutely safe and effective. The fact of the matter is there is a certain amount of risk along with the benefits associated with any type of healthcare you decide to pursue. I have found in chiropractic that the risks are minimal compared to the benefits. There can be some stiffness that accompanies an adjustment, but this is due to muscle inflammation. I always make sure to prepare my clients so they know what to expect and discuss techniques, such as icing, to combat the stiffness.
Q: Do I need a referral from my doctor to see a chiropractor and is it covered by my health insurance?
A (Dr. Bryan Johnson): I have not yet encountered anyone who needs a referral from a doctor. However, a doctor can refer you to a chiropractor.
Most insurance plans will cover some chiropractic treatment. I can verify the insurance for my patients as well. The coverage will obviously differ from plan to plan as will the co-pay.
Q: What exactly is an adjustment and how do you do it? Is there any discomfort involved?
A (Dr. Bryan Johnson): The adjustments that I do are manual manipulations, so I use my hands to put the bones of the spine back in proper position. The motion used is called a “thrust” and it is a high velocity low amplitude motion. It should not feel like someone is punching you in the back. It’s a quick adjustment that gets the bone to move back into alignment.
I get the comfort question frequently. Typically, there should be no discomfort and most patients enjoy the adjustments. The exception to this rule are the people that come in and are already in a serious amount of pain. However, after doing a full assessment, I try to do the adjustment quickly and alleviate as much pain as possible for them.
Q: How long does an adjustment normally last?
A (Dr. Bryan Johnson): It is different depending upon the patient. If a new patient comes in at the age of 40 and has never had an adjustment before, it may only last a few hours. This is because their body is not used to the positioning that the adjustment did and it will tend to pull back out of position. This is known as “retracing”. Once a patient has had multiple adjustments, their body should start to accept the new spinal position. At this point, you should get some strength and stability built into your adjustment and it should last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. This also depends on your activity level. Athletes put more stress and strain on their bodies, so they tend to need to be adjusted more often.
Q: How often do I need to see a chiropractor?
A (Dr. Bryan Johnson): Most people will come frequently when they have pain that they would like to alleviate. However, when that pain goes away, they are less likely to prioritize a chiropractic visit. This is a mistake. Regular visits help to keep you at optimum condition. I often use the analogy of going to the gym. If you go to the gym once a month, you are not going to see results. You have to go regularly to get the results that you want. The same applies to chiropractic treatments. Regular visits are very important. Once you know that your spine is in better alignment, which typically happens in a month, 12 visits a year is ideal for most people. It does vary from person to person. Normally, between 8 to 20 chiropractic visits are approved by insurance companies. Therefore, your maintenance adjustments should be covered.