Chiropractic is a profession with a wide variety of practice philosophies and techniques, which makes it a challenge to select a chiropractor who is most compatible for an individual. Because the chiropractic treatment includes hands-on procedures, consideration must be given for both the preference of treatment style as well as the rapport with the chiropractor.
This article outlines questions to ask when interviewing a doctor of chiropractic and provides guidelines for what to expect of chiropractic care. It also highlights some red flags that may indicate questionable treatment and/or practice management approaches.
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One place to start is to ask a primary care physician, physical therapist, or spine specialist for recommendations of chiropractors who they view as competent and trustworthy. One way to phrase this question is: "If someone in your family needed a chiropractor, who would you recommend?" However, many medical professionals lack regular interaction with chiropractors and therefore may not be able to provide a recommendation.
It also helps to ask friends, co-workers, and neighbors for recommendations. While these recommendations can be valuable, keep in mind that one person's definition of the best chiropractor may be quite different from another person's definition. It is important to find a chiropractor who can meet an individual's specific needs.
In general, a chiropractor who is recommended by multiple people is likely to be reliable.
Interviewing a Chiropractor
Before starting treatment, it is usually best to conduct a telephone interview or request an in-office consultation to learn more about the chiropractor, the clinic, and techniques used. The treating chiropractor will typically request a personal consultation to discuss these details.
For most people, it is important to feel comfortable with the chiropractor and to have an overall positive experience at the clinic. Feeling comfortable is relative and depends on personal preferences, including details such as how long a patient may typically have to wait in the waiting room or the location of the chiropractor’s office.
Questions to consider about rapport and experience with a chiropractor and/or clinic staff during an initial interview may include one or more of the following:
- Is the chiropractor friendly and courteous?
- Does the patient feel comfortable talking with the chiropractor?
- Does the chiropractor fully answer all questions asked by the patient?
- Does the chiropractor listen to the patient's complete explanation of symptoms and treatment concerns/preferences?
- How many years has the chiropractor been in practice?
Another consideration is whether the chiropractor has a specific undergraduate or post-graduate specialty. While not necessary, some chiropractors pursue post-graduate programs in various specialties, such as orthopedics, sports medicine, rehabilitation, neurology, or nutrition.
Patients may want to research if there are any disciplinary actions against the chiropractor. This information is available from each state's chiropractic regulation and licensing board, which can usually be found on the state's website.
Patients can also check to determine if their chiropractor's college is accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education.
Selecting any health care professional for treatment is something that should be done with care. Do not feel compelled to be treated by the first chiropractor interviewed. Many people interview several chiropractors before selecting one they feel is well suited to treat their condition.
The bottom line is that the chiropractor's role is to recommend the course of care for the patient, and it is the patient’s decision whether or not to accept that doctor's recommendations. Patients should never feel like a doctor is pressuring them into a treatment or payment decision.