Thoughts on Chiropractors?

goldgirlMay 14, 2012

Just wondering if anyone has been to a chiropractor and what your experience has been. I have friends who swear by them, and others who believe they're dangerous.

I've not had an injury, but am having trouble with back pain due to stress and long periods of sitting. I've started some strength training/stretching but am feeling everything in my lower back, even with back-friendly exercises and a trainer guiding me. When I had a couple of massages last summer, I remember the therapist telling me my back was "like a rock."

A friend suggested a chiropractor and I've been thinking of going. But I'm a little afraid!

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Goldgirl - I have been in exactly your place. Years ago I had some issues with lower back pain - and it was from muscle tightness - especially in the hip area. I first went to a chiropractor, and while I didn't have a bad experience, I felt like the guy was seeing how many visits/how much money he could make. He asked me several times, when I was going to refer friends to him. The adjustments were few and really that part did scare me a bit. He had a person who did massage and another who did the TENS unit, ultrasound, etc. I firmly believe those things are what helped me. I got fed up with the chiropractor and eventually my internist sent me to physical therapy. Again, I got the TENS, ultrasound, massage, heat, etc. to deal with the pain but I also learned HOW to deal with the problem and prevent it from happening again.

Earlier this year, after a change in job duties, I found myself with upper back and shoulder/neck pain. I honestly wondered if I had a disk problem as I experienced some numbness in one hand. I went to PT for less than 6 weeks and the problem is pretty well gone (IF I keep up with my end of the bargain LOL!!). They got me over the worst of the pain then worked first on flexibility and then strengthening my muscles. Also, I was letting my posture go all to he$$. It was amazing how quickly I felt better. They had an amazing massage therapist and my physical therapist did mention that if I find myself feeling tight, etc. again - that massage is a good investment.

Do they have you using heat and ice?

Hope you find what works for you soon!


    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 9:18AM
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I know a few people that go to them and have had great success. The one person has had many back issues/surgeries and I don't know how he would function without being adjusted and getting massages regularly.

Quite a few years ago I was in two different car accidents that were close together. I remember having tingling in my arms and pain in my back. The chiropractor helped me.

Like anything else, I wouldn't just pick one out of the phone book though. I would do a little research and also ask around.

I know people that are skeptical because they've never been to one, don't know anyone who has, or they didn't have a good outcome. I remind them of those people, including myself, who have seen results by using them.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 9:36AM
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Like you, I have always had friends who swear by them and go regularly for treatment. But I was skeptical.

Then I adopted a toddler, and since I didn't have a chance to build up to carrying his weight the way you do when you start out with a baby, wham! my back was out in no time. It literally got to where I could not get into or out of my car without help.

So I was desperate and went to my friend's chiro. He had me come in every few days for a total of three visits, and my back was fine after that. He didn't try to sell me on a lifetime maintenance plan or anything, which was half of what I was afraid of.

I am starting to have lower back pain now from sitting around too much/probably having the wrong office chair. I plan to cure that by increasing my walking and swimming, but if that doesn't work, I would not hesitate to go back to the chiro, although first I would go to PT and ask for exercises. Stronger muscles will help whatever the chiro does stay in place, anyway.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 9:46AM
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There are good & there are bad. One bad that worked on my ex neighbor & his lady friend when they were in their 80's. He did not ask for xrays 1st & ended up damaging both of them.

My daughter & I see one; her for upper back; me lower as needed. Speak to your friends.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 11:03AM
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I've had a bad experience with a 'cracking' kind of chiro that laid me out for a week, and completely useless experiences when I had herniated disks with another recommended chiro here -- she scolded me and gave me a corset for the muscle spasms (the most rock-like she'd ever seen, she said) -- but did nothing else--a lovely craigslist TENS unit and time eventually healed me.

Recently for an injury to my neck, however, I found someone that several folks seemed to be recommending--he doesn't crack, but rather uses a machine that does several tiny taps successively until it notices that a change has happened in the echo-back. Sounds kind of woo-woo but combined with acupuncture it has finally reversed the worsening trend (it was right at c1/c2 and was making me nauseated whenever I moved my head--got to crisis stage and I really felt trapped) and has mostly healed me. I've stopped going because I feel I'm about 80% better and I'm that cheap -- but if it gets worse again I know whom to call. The improvement was slow but I noticed he'd reversed the trend, which nothing else had been able to do, and I waited patiently as I got slowly better. Really, it had been getting worse and worse for months and was so inflamed it was swollen and tender by the point I went. I *know* that the chiro was the reason for the reversal/healing. Soft tissue heals the most slowly, though, unfortunately, so our 'take a pill and it's gone' expectations have to be put on hold. Appreciation of tiny incremental progress is necessary.

*All that said*, I do think you might also want to look into Pilates as a way of strengthening your core muscles all around. I have had a weak lower back (e.g. herniated lumbar/sacral disks) forever, but Pilates has strengthened my core, and thus my back, in a way none of my decades of sports and gym classes had ever done. Try getting a DVD by Rael Isacowitz from Amazon -- System 17 and eventually the 27, if you feel up to it--Rael has a way of teaching that can reach beginners as well as more experienced, and it's all slow and repetitive enough that you can really focus on what it is you're supposed to be working. These DVDs are all mat work--no other equipment necessary, no classes--and have saved not only my back but my husband's too. Both generally for our entire bodies, and specifically for backs, there's nothing better, IME. Go Pilates!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 2:41PM
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I'm seeing one now. I have a pinched nerve in my neck and my arms feel like they are asleep most of the time. I think it was the move that did me in. The Chropractor I am seeing has a young woman give me a message for 15 minutes prior to my treatment. That makes good sense to me as my muscles are relaxed.

Some Chiropractors are good and some are downright scarey. I like my Chiropractor now She is great. Years ago, I went to one who never seemed to help. Just kept me coming back time after time sucking my bank account dry. I switched to someone who actually helped me. My Chiropractor takes my insurance.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 3:28PM
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I swear by chiropractor. He specializes in sports medicine and works with the high schools a lot. They start me out with heat & TENS then he does an old fashioned adjustment. I love him.

After I was in a horrible car accident I treated for months with a different one ago did not do the cracking but used that tapper machine thing. For
My issues at that time (neck & concussion) it was perfect. He didn't accept my medical ins so I had to find someone else and went to
several I didn't like (using both methods) until I finally found my dream doc. I've been going to him for years and if I don't go at least every other month, I really start feeling it.

Definitely ask for recommendations, try asking your doctors office if they have a recommendation.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 9:49PM
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Right, it really depends. Many of them do treatments similar to physical therapists, but unlike a PT, you don't need a medical referral to see one. Still, I would recommend a referral because they vary widely.

I have a student referred to a chiropractor from the VA system. He was having a neck problem and they believed the treatment would help vs. surgery, and it did.

Also, check that chiropractors are covered under your insurance, and how much they cover.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 8:09AM
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I used a good chiropractor for years when I worked. Being a hairdresser and blow drying and cutting ten hours a day does a job on the back (standing) and the upper body. I'd be in agony and go and get adjusted and feel relief in 24 hours. Did that for 30 years so, give it a try. I also recommend acupuncture.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 11:48AM
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My DH is seeing one now for the same issues you're having. He is very tall, not sure if that plays into it but I think his posture hasn't been great because he bends over a lot, even subtly, to talk to people. He is over a foot taller than me. Anyway, he also has a desk job and his neck was really starting to bother him. He lived with it for a LONG time before finally going to a chiropractor that was highly recommended by a few coworkers. This guy worked miracles on my DH. He's been seeing him for about 6 months. Now he goes only every few weeks -- at first it was 2 or 3 times a week (but the sessions are fairly brief).

About 15 years ago I started getting migraines out of the blue. After seeing a doctor and taking meds for a while on and off, I also saw a chiropractor. I probably saw him for a total of a year. I haven't had a migraine since!

On the other hand, two years ago I had an awful experience with TMJ for several weeks and the person who "cured" me was an experienced massage therapist. (After seeing my PCP, a dentist, a neurologist, and an ENT!)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 12:50PM
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My pain isn't terrible, but it's enough to let me know that something's not right. Tina - I think you hit the nail on the head regarding tightness. Stretching definitely helps, but I want to make sure I don't injure myself worse.

I have an appointment tomorrow with a massage therapist (one associated with the local medical center) and will see what she thinks/suggests. I also jerry-rigged my desk so that I can stand up and study/work. Of course, standing all day isn't good either, but at least this way I can vary positions, which should help.

Flyleft - I'll check out that Pilates DVD.

Thanks for all the input - it's a huge help. If I end up going the Chiropractor route, I'll make sure to get referrals.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 8:18PM
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Gold, my DH convinced his employer to get some stand-up desks (I don't know if there's another name for them) which are arriving this summer, I think. The chiropractor said they are great. So you're on the right track there!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 8:38AM
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Sue - I remember seeing someone using a stand-up desk a few years ago and thinking it was odd. Now I get it!

I'm even rethinking our mattress. We have an ancient queen Sealy Posturepedic in our guest room that's the best mattress we've ever owned, made before the days of plush tops, etc. If I sleep on that, my back feels good. But our current king-size mattress, which is as close to the old-fashioned one as I could find, is awful. It's supposed to be firm, but I sink into it and wake up with aches.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 12:16PM
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Have you been to a doctor to find out what is causing the back pain? You can have lumbar issues without having an injury, such as arthritis or degenerative disk disease, etc. An MRI might be worth considering, so you know what you are really treating. I started out with back pain and found out my lumbar area was in pretty bad shape. There are things I no longer do, such as lifting and staying in one position too long. PT has played a big part in developing strength in my core muscles to give greater support to my back and in learning what I need to do to take care of myself.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 9:45AM
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My chiropractor has saved me, and I was one of the skeptical ones. I have degenerative disc disease which flares periodically and causes severe sciatica. I keep it in check by seeing my chiro regularly. In addition, I was in a serious car accident in 2010 and have had neck issues from it which have been helped tremendously through chiropractic treatment.

I was referred by a friend to her chiropractor, who is excellent. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 5:58PM
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I grew up in an extremely anti-Chiropractor family, but after 4 cases of whiplash in 10 years, I was a mess. My doctor told me that PT and Western medicine weren't going to fix me, and said I had to see a Chiropractor. Luckily, a co-worker had a great recommendation for me.

After three visits, I could turn my neck again and I felt... human.

Since then, I have sent 3 co-workers, my spouse, and my parents to him.

Everyone's had good results, but this thing that has most stunned me is that he fixed my mother's shoulder (which her Western doctor told her could only be fixed by killing the nerve, which is a dangerous and painful procedure with, obviously, permanent effects!).

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 12:38PM
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