What Is a Chiropractor?

By Dr. Brent Wells, DC

A young man checked my a physician.

What is a chiropractor? A chiropractor is a trained medical professional who sets the focus of care on neuromuscular and musculoskeletal issues centering around the spine. A chiropractor works to maximize the health of the body through spinal manipulation and adjustment, joint care, and related treatment procedures.

The term ‘chiropractor’ originates from the Greek terms χείρ (kheir), meaning ‘of the hand,’ and πρακτικός (praktikos), meaning ‘practical.’ This comes into English as ‘chiro’ + ‘practic’ meaning work done by hand. Therefore, we understand chiropractic care to include the care of a patient as it is put directly into the hands of a trained physician for direct healing.

Chiropractic is a method of health care designed to correct poor spinal alignment, relieve pressure throughout the body, reduce pain and inflammation, and direct the body toward healing. Specific techniques used will vary based on the goals and needs of individual patients. New technologies used by chiropractors offer many options that the general public may not yet be aware are available.

The field of chiropractic retains a number of styles, philosophies, and techniques designed to help the body gain healing naturally – on its own. Care is usually drug-free and non-surgical. Ailments cared for may be the result of an incident, degenerative in nature, or related to underlying conditions.

What Should I Look for in a Chiropractor?

  • Are the credentials legit? Look for clear, current licensing information and proper training.

  • Does the physician seek to continue learning throughout his or her practice in chiropractic medicine? Even after formal education has been completed, care providers should remain up to date and interested in bringing in new skills and information to their work.

  • Is the chiropractor knowledgeable and willing to help patients learn how to be well?

  • Does the chiropractor welcome you to inquire about the best options for you?

  • Is the staff caring and welcoming? Does it appear that they enjoy their jobs?

  • Does the chiropractor have a listening ear and a caring spirit? Providers who actually care for their patients will be more likely to want to help them genuinely heal.

  • Are they dedicated to their patients and their needs? Do they have a passion for their work? This is key. Individuals who are just there for a paycheck alone may have less of a vested interest in you and your needs as a patient. Patients deserve the best care that can be made available – each visit.

  • Are there reliable clinics in your area? Would you benefit from a multiple care facility?

  • Can you even get an appointment if you wanted one? Flexible scheduling is a huge benefit for real people with lives. You will want to be able to plan your care into the fabric of your life in a way that most benefits your long-term health goals.

Depending on the type of care that you may need, you may also wish to work with a facility that offers multiple care options. Chiropractic care can often be combined with other types of care to dramatically increase the effects of each. Massage therapy, physical rehabilitative therapy, and advanced treatment therapies may also be available at some clinics.

You may want to consider a facility that would allow you to be seen in more than one location if needed. If you reside in a remote location and tend to make such ventures in combination with other tasks, having more than one facility to choose from can be a big help. Consider working with a chiropractor that will offer flexible scheduling options that will allow you to maximize care.

Seek a chiropractor with whom you feel comfortable. The environment of the physicians and employees should be one that allows you to express your frustrations and desires for the process of healing. Look for a physician who is comfortable working with patients physically and with whom you can converse easily.

Seek a professional who is fully knowledgeable regarding the spine, joints, and the manner in which the musculoskeletal system works. You will want a provider on your side ready with a full knowledge base of what may be found in the body. Expediting care is much more easily done when one actually understands what is happening under the skin.

The Growing Benefits of Chiropractic Care

Why is it important to understand what a chiropractor is in today’s world? Modern technology has changed so much about the way in which medical activity is handled. Knowledge of the body and it’s inner-workings has allowed physicians to rapidly gain advantages for patients. Chiropractic is at the top of these advancements.

The health benefits of chiropractic care have increased dramatically through modern technology. Spinal decompression techniques offer patients advanced care options that can rapidly decrease healing times and can eliminate the need for surgery. New treatment options offer relief for back pain without the use of a scalpel. Patients who choose to seek cutting-edge care may have a great appreciation for practices that utilize ‘no cutting’ techniques.

The interconnected portions of the body, often leave patients with more than one condition to consider. An injury in one part of the body may lead to weakness or affliction in an opposing joint or muscle. If the initial condition is left without care, additional sources of pain may begin to develop, leading to a greater need for treatment.

It is rarely the case that only one single part of the body is affected by a condition suffered by a patient. This means that combined care, in many cases, may be preferred. An increase in technology and an understanding of the body’s needs toward healing easily make this attainable.

Care techniques will vary some by the individual clinic, state, and region. Chiropractic philosophies may also have an impact on the direct application of care. However, the goal of practitioners should remain focused on the repair, recovery, and healing of each patient.

No sense in gaining new and greater knowledge if the information gained does not benefit the patient. Effective chiropractic care must remain an innovative part of medical science. Advanced therapies must take the need of the patient and be able to apply knowledge to achieve healing – or it is all for not.

Advanced chiropractic care is doing just that by helping patients with the following:

  • Relief from back pain, neck pain, lower back pain, whiplash, headache, migraine

  • Increased mobility

  • General wellness in the body

  • Recovery from injury

  • Neuromuscular repair

  • Reduced muscle spasms

  • Improved posture

  • Reduced chance of injury or re-injury

  • Natural decrease of inflammation

  • Scoliosis

  • Stenosis

  • Bursitis, subluxations, herniations

  • Arthritis, spondylosis

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

As medical technology advances, so does the need for us to care for our bodies with the hope of lifelong wellness and comfort. As humans live longer and longer, the need to care for the mechanisms that allow us to move and operate daily increases. We tend to use our bodies for a longer period of time than in the past.

Therefore, we need to ensure that we find effective methods for caring for our bodies. In the normal course of life, we will naturally incur bumps, bruises, and ailments that will require us to seek medical care. The longer that we live as humans, the more we must seek ways to care for our aging bodies in a lasting manner.

Chiropractic care benefits continue to grow as technology increases our ability to understand all that is happening inside the body. Whether or not an ailment or injury develops early in life or in the silver years, it can be overcome and managed through proper knowledge and care of the condition. Properly trained physicians can offer insight to patients for a level of healing that may not otherwise be obtained.

What Education Is Required to Become a Chiropractor?

Individuals with a spine likely want a properly trained physician to help them to care for this integral part of their body. An untrained or poorly trained individual may cause more harm than good. How can you recognize a properly trained professional?

Chiropractors, by U.S. law, are permitted to practice within the states where they retain a license. Be not afraid to ask about the credentials of anyone who will provide you with any sort of medical care. Safe teaching practices include years of training focused on tasks that promote natural healing and long-term joint and spinal health.

Prior to licensing, training must be completed and test scores must meet the guidelines given by each state. Exams are regulated by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Once the exam phase is complete, each candidate must complete any regulations specific to the state in which they plan to be licensed.

A doctorate of chiropractic (D.C.) degree may be obtained in six to eight years, depending on the chosen program. Some programs will require two years of study prior to the start of chiropractic study. However, many physicians will acquire a full bachelor’s degree first, resulting in eight years of upper-level course work.

Most states require physicians to acquire continuing education work in some way after their initial training has been completed. This is usually done with a chiropractor’s specific interests in mind. Continuing education is often done in conjunction with technological advances as they arise, the American Chiropractic Association, or the American Academy of Spine Physicians.

If you want to read more about a chiropractor’s education, certification, and license requirements, I wrote a blog post about those in detail.

What Do Chiropractic Services Usually Include?

Chiropractic services offer the body a personalized method for receiving medical treatments for the musculoskeletal system, including spinal and joint care. Services are designed to provide healing for the body as a unit – a complete unit – for a life of wellness for each patient. Therefore, neuromuscular matters will also be considered with chiropractic treatments.

Neuromuscular? What do the nerves and muscles have to do with general healing processes? Communication features of the central nervous system are often part of the injury or ailment that must be considered. Yet, they may be missed with some methods of care, leading to chronic pain issues. Chiropractic seeks to minimize the risk of chronic pain that may develop when complete healing does not occur.

Goals will include re-establishing the innate neuromuscular connections that the brain is meant to retain throughout the body. Damage to the ‘communication highway’ that runs through the body will need to be assessed and considered as part of each patient’s intended healing process. Just because the bumps and bruises have diminished, does not mean that full healing has occurred.

Not all chiropractic clinics will have the same care options. Therefore, services may vary based on where you look.

Here are a few that may be offered:

  • Joint therapy

  • Chiropractic massage therapy

  • Preventative spinal care

  • Chiropractic Adjustment

  • Spinal manipulation

  • Information on specific care needs

  • Rehabilitative therapy

  • Auto Injury Care

  • Chiropractic Checkups

  • Onsite workstation consultation

  • Long-term healing plans

A reliable diagnosis that includes a personalized care plan should be expected by each patient that a chiropractor sees. If more than one ailment or injury must be considered, this should be a part of the patient’s long-term health plan. Multiple services may be included in some cases.

Chiropractic services are designed to bring health to patients by working with each one to secure all that will be needed for increased daily function. The primary goal is to help each patient get back to what they love most in life! Patients should learn to expect care that will help them regain health and wellness for the body as a whole.

Advanced Chiropractic Services

Advanced care may also include spinal decompression, the DRS System, the Alaska Back Pain Protocol, and MCU Therapy. Long term results are what patients tend to seek. These newer technologies, provide that for them – without a scalpel. Surgery is not needed with any of these techniques, dramatically reducing recovery times for patients.

The DRS System is a wildly unique traction system that is designed to remove pressure from the discs and joints in the lower back. Sessions last about 30 minutes and are monitored by trained technicians. It is not uncommon for patients to note immediate relief from back pain.

The Alaska Back Pain Protocol is a treatment method that combines therapies to achieve a greater goal for back pain patients. The goal of this technique is to provide a higher level of permanent health for patients. The DRS System, chiropractic care, and physical therapy will be woven into one comprehensive care plan for patients that choose this service.

Modern chiropractic clinics have begun to offer far more than just spinal care. Additional treatments that may be utilized include ultrasound, cervical traction, gait training, and others as required by the patient’s health. While care is often centered around the spine, joints and limbs will be considered in the care process when applicable.

Sprains, strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraine, headache, and tendinitis are some conditions that you may not expect to have treated with chiropractic care. However, patients with these conditions often find immense benefit from combination therapy methods provided by some chiropractic care providers. The body is a massively interwoven unit that requires a genuine look into the reason for pain.

Facilities that offer physical therapy in addition to chiropractic care add a wonderful benefit of health and convenience for clients. Physical therapy is often required after an injury, resulting in the search for a provider. The combination of rehabilitative therapies with chiropractic treatments can add a sense of practicality for patients seeking to ‘get back their lives.’

Are Chiropractic Prices Reasonable?

Yes! Prices for chiropractic care will vary based on your area and what type of care may be needed. Insurance often covers chiropractic care. A primary desire for insurance companies is to minimize their costs as much as possible.

Non-invasive and preventative care techniques are beneficial to insurance companies. Therefore, many choose to cover chiropractic treatments for the benefit of their bottom line, as well as the health of the patient. Your health is worth determining what arrangements can be made. Life-long wellness is a goal that is not to be missed!

If insurance is not an option, be sure to ask about extended payment plans, discounts, and related programs. Established clinics often have policies that allow them to work with patients to provide affordable, reliable care. Our Better Health Chiropractic Clinic has a cash patient special offer in Alaska, as well as other payment plans designed for the needs of each client.

Chiropractic Care Options in Alaska

Better Health Alaska clinics have found a way to apply the growing knowledge of science to the injured and ailing bodies of patients! Truly cutting-edge technologies are at the fingertips of knowledgeable and trained technicians and physicians, ready and equipped to bring recovery and healing.

Better Health welcomes potential patients to stop by any of the Alaska Clinic locations. Bring your questions! Let us help you find out what chiropractic care can do for you and your health. Come and get to know us!

Practical and personalized care plans are available at four locations in Alaska: South Anchorage, North/East Anchorage, Juneau, Wasilla. Call 1.877.346.5255 today to learn more about Better Health Chiropractic’s First Visit Promise.

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The portrait of Dr. Brent Wells.

About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells has been a trusted chiropractor since moving his family from Oregon to Alaska back in 1998 and founded Better Health Alaska – B.S. from Univ. of Nevada, Doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College, volunteer for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation, and member of the American Chiropractic Association. As a chiropractor his focus is on family, including his 3 children and wife of 20+ years, his clinics, and ongoing education.

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