Information for Physicians – Making A Referral for Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic services are centered on the treatment of conditions associated with the musculoskeletal system, as well as the nervous system. Common issues that chiropractic services address include back pain, neck pain, headaches, and pains in the arms and legs. This page is for doctors who are looking for more information about when to refer their patients to a chiropractor.
When should you send a patient for a chiropractic referral?
A chiropractic referral can be beneficial for most patients who are experiencing spinal pain. Most spinal pain results from acute, subacute, or chronic conditions developing in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbosacral spine. Some of these specific conditions may include: disc involvement, spinal strain, spinal pain, facet joint syndrome, myofascial pain syndrome, sacroiliac joint pain, non-specific spinal pain, as well as tension headaches. If you have a patient experiencing symptoms pertaining to these and other related conditions, they could greatly benefit from working with a chiropractor.
Chiropractic services have also proven successful in treating several other conditions, such as degenerative disc disease, intervertebral disc bulging, intervertebral disc derangement, intervertebral disc protrusion, intervertebral disc herniation, and general intervertebral disc dysfunction. Chiropractors most commonly treat these kinds of conditions using manual therapy techniques, flexion-distraction, and extension therapy, as well as others.
How many appointments are necessary to see improvement under chiropractic management?
Chiropractic treatment can often provide rapid changes when it comes to pain management, relief, and overall increased comfort and spinal functionality. For some patients, several treatment sessions are enough to create a marked change in their daily lives. For other patients, more prolonged treatment plans are necessary in order to provide truly meaningful results. For example, if a patient has a relatively simple case, about two to four weeks of treatment might be sufficient. For a more complicated situation, several weeks of treatment may be necessary in order to bring about the same successful results. The main goals of any treatment are to eventually get the patient to the point where self-care is enough to keep them pain-free and fully functional.
In order to fully assess our chiropractic patients, we will first administer a full clinical evaluation. These evaluations allow our staff to get a better idea of your medical history, as well as lets us know which kind of preliminary procedure may be necessary, including x-rays and other diagnostic methods. From there, we will recommend specific treatments suited for your individual needs. Examples of treatment recommendations include: spinal manipulation/adjustments, soft tissue mobilization procedures, special therapeutic exercises, flexion distraction techniques, and more. In addition to specific spinal treatments, our experts find it useful to give our patients the education they need on the topic so that they are more aware of how to better their spinal health and improve their own self-care and pain management skills.
Our experts will work with you to set realistic and effective treatment goals, both short-term and long-term. We will then discuss how the goals can be reached by planning office visits and specific services to be administered during those visits—giving you a timeline to follow and a better understanding of the extent of your treatment.
How safe is chiropractic spinal manipulation?
Spinal manipulation therapy has been proven to be quite safe and effective. There are some known complications that may occur, but they are extremely rare. Perhaps the most common complication associated with chiropractic spinal manipulation is soreness in the areas that have been manipulated, which is usually short-lived and quite minor. There are some severe complications that have been reported, including vertebral artery injury, stroke, and cauda equina syndrome. It is important to note, however, that the likelihood of these serious complications occurring is about one in one hundred million.
If the patient has a preexisting condition that might interfere with their spinal manipulation, in many cases these issues can be resolved by personalizing the treatment method and adjusting it to the patient’s specific needs so as to ensure the most safe and effective treatment possible.
How does manipulation work?
Spinal manipulation is designed to increase the range of motion in specific areas of the spine, and by doing so to relieve any pain or tenderness that has been occurring. There are several specific mechanisms used throughout a spinal manipulation in order to promote healing, increased functionality, and pain relief.
Why do chiropractors recommend different approaches to treatment?
Most chiropractors today operate using evidence-based management of spinal pain, as well as using methods that integrate practices being used in other fields in order to create the most beneficial treatments for their patients. Some chiropractors still rely on traditional methods in running their practices.
Chiropractors that use an evidence-based philosophy are reliant on the physical medicine model when they diagnose and treat their patients. For example, spinal manipulation adopts techniques familiar to physical therapy and physiatry.
While approaches may differ from chiropractor to chiropractor—the goals of treatment generally remain the same. The patient should always choose a chiropractor with whom they agree on treatment methods and underlying philosophies.