It’s a common suggestion to go to a chiropractor for whatever spinal distress may come your way, but it’s less common to hear suggestions for how often you should be making these visits. This is due largely in part to the misconception that chiropractors are purely for treating symptoms, not for maintaining health over time. This just isn’t true—regular chiropractic maintenance care is actually more effective at keeping back pain at bay than the more often-suggested symptom treatment methods.
So, what is it about chiropractic adjustments that make them more effective when performed regularly? Moreover, how often should you see a chiropractor? When it comes to all things chiropractic, College Park chiropractors literally have your back, and more.
What Is an Adjustment?
We must first address the fundamentals before we can begin to answer such questions. A chiropractic adjustment is a treatment in which trained experts—known as chiropractors—apply a controlled, abrupt force to a spinal joint either with their hands or a small device. The purpose of this procedure is to increase your body’s physical function and spinal motion. A typical chiropractic adjustment will involve your chiropractor placing you in particular positions to treat problem areas, most frequently lying face down on a purpose-built, padded chiropractic table. They will then target those particular areas for adjustment.
During the treatment session, you may hear popping or cracking sounds as the chiropractor adjusts your joints. This is perfectly normal and is just the sound of trapped gasses being released from in-between your joints. However, they do tend to serve as a reminder as to why you should always go to a trained chiropractor for these adjustments rather than just anyone with the ability to crack a back. You don’t want to accidentally get your neck snapped by someone who’s not qualified for the job.
Why Would I Need an Adjustment?
Most of those millions of Americans who seek chiropractic care each year are looking to heal from an injury, while many others are suffering from chronic pain. Others visit chiropractors for reasons entirely beyond the musculoskeletal realm, hoping to gain relief from sleep apnea or to improve their concentration. Regardless of their reasons, all those who visit a chiropractor are looking for a natural method to live a pain-free life, regardless of their unique problems.
However, as stated, a chiropractic adjustment isn’t just an option to be sought in the event of an injury or pre-existing condition. Rather, it should be viewed as a lifestyle choice. If you’re an athlete or have a physically demanding job, chiropractic adjustments can help you feel more fit and healthy. Poor posture is one of the common causes of back pain because of all that pressure we put on our spines. If you spend most of your day sitting in front of a computer or driving for lengthy periods of time, your body might also benefit from realignment to keep your posture in check. Chiropractors can also help you feel more relaxed and mobile by reducing inflammation in your muscles and joints.
What Else Can a Chiropractor Do?
Chiropractors may focus on the spine, but a good chiropractic adjustment has the potential to solve far more than just back pain. Have you ever wondered why people refer to important elements of a project as the project’s “backbone”? It’s because your backbone is critical to the operation of your entire body. Maintaining the health and integrity of this one part of your body can improve every aspect of your overall health from head to toe.
Other reasons why people may visit a chiropractor can include: stress relief, improving digestive function, improving their sleeping habits, managing blood pressure, and improving wellness overall. Just like you would visit a dentist for a regular cleaning or a doctor for an annual checkup, visiting a chiropractor on a regular basis can solve many health problems and prevent many others.
Is an Adjustment the Right Choice For Me?
Though chiropractic adjustments are widely regarded as entirely safe—and for good reason—there are a few things to keep in mind when considering whether or not you should take the plunge. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is not recommended that you visit a chiropractor if you have severe osteoporosis, cancer in the spine, a high risk of stroke, or a known bone abnormality in the upper neck. It’s also crucial that you discuss any past spinal or back pain injuries with your chiropractor prior to beginning an adjustment, as it could be risky to perform an adjustment on you if your spine has experienced something like a severe fracture.
Beyond those few exceptions, chiropractic adjustments are completely safe for anyone of any age, body type, or ability. There is even an entire subsection of chiropractic care dedicated to providing adjustments on a pediatric level, meaning you could help your child build an important foundation for their good health early on by taking them to a chiropractor and getting them used to the adjustment process. Similarly, there is also a branch of chiropractic that specializes in pregnancy care. There are nearly-limitless applications and patient pools for chiropractic as a practice.
Will an Adjustment Really Help My Health?
Yes, but it’s important to keep in mind that regular adjustments are only one part of a healthy lifestyle. Much like going to the dentist, if you get your teeth cleaned twice a year but never brush them in-between, you’re still going to have major problems. While in-between adjustment periods, it’s important to keep an eye on your overall health and don’t let yourself slip into unhealthy habits that would render your chiropractic progress moot. Make sure you keep up good posture, exercise regularly to help strengthen the muscles that support your spine and make sure your shoes aren’t actively causing harm to your back via a lack of support.
Additionally, it should be noted that a chiropractor should not be used for emergency situations. If you have just been in a car accident, have been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition, or feel like you may have a life-threatening condition, always visit the emergency room first and foremost. Chiropractors are great at helping you through the recovery process that follows these stressful events, but a good chiropractor knows their limits and will not accept you if you are actively dying.
Getting an Adjustment
So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and schedule a chiropractic appointment. Great! Fortunately, there isn’t much to do in the way of preparation. The intake process for most chiropractors is very standard and is very much akin to what a general physician might do before letting you in for a checkup.
Your chiropractor will ask you questions about your medical history, reasons for visiting, and preferences for treatment. An example of that final example is that many people find themselves experiencing a lot of anxiety over the crackling sounds that a spine can make during an adjustment, and certain methods can help reduce or even eliminate those popping sounds. Mentioning an aversion to the popping sounds upfront can potentially make your experience far more pleasant.
How Often Should I Get Adjusted?
Ultimately, the answer to that question is between you and your chiropractor and cannot truly be answered by a website. However, there is typically a pattern when it comes to adjustment frequency with new patients. When you initially begin receiving treatment, you will need to see a chiropractor more often to be adjusted. They may ask you to come in once a week or several times a week to start off, especially if you come in with a pre-existing condition that requires special attention. As you begin to respond to treatment and notice benefits, you’ll be able to come in less frequently over time. You’ll soon reach the stage where you only need to come in for maintenance adjustments every few weeks or months.
Of course, everyone is different, and depending on what you intend to gain from an adjustment, your frequency could vary wildly. Beyond that, there really is no limit to how often you can see a chiropractor. The most important part is to listen to your body and not overexert it by getting repeated adjustments while you’re already hurting from the last ones. If you’re seeking College Park chiropractors who will truly understand you and your personal history, AICA has you covered. From chiropractors to orthopedists to many professions in between, our widely varied and highly trained lineup of medical professionals will be happy to work out a treatment plan that’s best for you.