Is my chiropractor just after money?

by SJ

How do I know if my chiropractor actually wants to correct my condition or at least improve my symptoms long term, or just relieve my pain temporarily so that I keep coming back and paying him money?

I realize no one is perfect, but I would much appreciate if you could suggest what might be red flags and what a good chiro might do differently.

Hello again SJ,
That's difficult question to answer. No doctor is entirely altruistic unless your name is in the league of Albert Schweitzer. We all have to rent to pay and families to feed.

Part of the answer lies in understanding that not many conditions can be 'cured'; fixed so they go away completely for ever; medical or chiropractor. Many conditions, perhaps most, respond better to some form of ongoing treatment. Much of that should be done by you yourself.

To what extent is your chiropractor encouraging you to help yourself? Is he demanding that your do back exercises? Is he asking you to walk or swim?

To what extent can you see he is thinking? Is he asking about your bed, and your chair? Has he checked your leg length to see if you have an anatomical short leg?

Is it a quick in and out? Do you feel he at least does some cursory examination at each visit? Does he make notes of your progress and his findings at each visit?

Follow your gut feel. I hope this helps in some small way.

Dr B

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Jan 19, 2018
Will my chiropractor take me seriously?
by: SJ

Thank you for your insights.

I think my chiropractor is not bad, but could do better:
My first treatments were for sciatica/herniated disk, and he strongly recommended x-rays, a MRI, traction decompression, and Pettibone wobble chair-like exercises that I do twice a day. Periodically he will ask if I am still doing the exercises (I am). I like to hike, and he encourages that. Good, right?

But I have other issues: neck pain, shoulder pain, costochondritis, and more recently, hip pain; and I still have low back pain daily, and sometimes mild radiculopathy. I try to mention this, but he (in effect) says that because I have no difficulty moving, that I am fine. True, I have no restrictions of movement, but I have pain every day. That is not fine, according to me. Appointments are quick, and usually are the same treatments, which I have told him have no apparent effect.

He never checked for a leg length difference; I actually asked about it early on, which is how we discovered it. Now I suspect I may have mild hip dysplasia, and mentioned such, but he has not done any tests for it (he kind of laughed at me when I mentioned it). My gut says that he sees me only as a herniated disk patient, whose condition has been diagnosed already, and nothing else is contributing to my symptoms, i.e. that there is nothing else to address. I feel a lot of things that have not been addressed. I'm later 30's, I really don't want pain like this the rest of my life.

I really think he can do better. How can I get him to understand that I am not fine, to listen, and to try to determine what is causing my pain and if it can be reduced or corrected?

Tough one, SJ.

Have you had all these pains for a long time? The honest truth is that no doctor of any ilk can 'cure' chronic pain. Plenty of exercise, attention to an anti-inflammatory diet, taking proper holidays and an occasional but regular treatment are my solutions to chronic pain; it's not perfect, perhaps far from it, but the best we can do.

I'm interested in those Pettibone exercises. On the net?

Hip dysplasia is diagnosed from an x-ray and mild cases like all mild diseases are often difficult to diagnose; may be called normal by many radiologists. The key is a shallow socket, and a sloping acetabulum; there are plenty of pages at Chiropractic Help. Do you have a family history of hip disease?

Most doctors including myself can do better. If you really feel he dismisses your concerns, perhaps it's time to go elsewhere. I have a friend who changes his doctor, denstist and chiropractor every year! I don't actually agree with him, but perhaps their's a case for it.

Dr B

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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