Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions reproduced with permission from American Chiropractic Association.

Why is there a popping sound when a joint is adjusted?

Adjustment of a joint may result in release of a gas bubble between the joints that makes a popping sound – it’s exactly the same as when you “crack” your knuckles. The noise is caused by the change of pressure within the joint that results in gas bubbles being released. There is no pain involved.

Is chiropractic treatment ongoing?

A chiropractor may provide acute, chronic, and/or preventive care thus making a certain number of visits sometimes necessary. Your doctor of chiropractic will tell you the extent of treatment recommended and how long you can expect it to last.

In contrast, a course of treatment from medical doctors often involves a pre-established plan that is conducted at home (i.e. taking a course of antibiotics once a day for a couple of weeks).

How is a chiropractic adjustment performed?

Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is a manual procedure that utilizes the highly refined skills developed during the intensive years of chiropractic education. The chiropractor typically uses his/her hands to manipulate the joints of the body, particularly the spine, in order to reduce pain, and restore or enhance joint function. Chiropractic manipulation is a highly controlled procedure that rarely causes discomfort. The chiropractor adapts the procedure to meet the specific needs of each patient. Patients often note positive changes in their symptoms immediately following treatment.

What type of education and training do chiropractors have?

Chiropractors are educated as primary contact health care practitioners, with an emphasis on musculoskeletal diagnosis and treatment. Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions. The typical applicant at a chiropractic college has already acquired nearly four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education, including courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related lab work. Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college, the requirements become even more demanding — four to five academic years of professional study are the standard. Because of the hands-on nature of chiropractic, and the intricate adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is spent in clinical training.

In total, the chiropractic curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. The course of study is approved by an accrediting agency that is fully recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Are chiropractors allowed to practice in hospitals or use medical outpatient facilities?

Hospital privileges were first granted to chiropractors in 1983. Nationally, chiropractors are recognized to admit and treat patients in hospitals and to use outpatient clinical facilities (such as labs, x-rays, etc.) for their non-hospitalized patients. Locally, the Erie County Medical Center (ECMS) and the Buffalo VA Medical Center currently have chiropractic departments.

Is chiropractic treatment appropriate for children?

Yes, children can benefit from chiropractic care. Children are very physically active and experience many types of falls and blows from activities of daily living as well as from participating in sports. Injuries such as these may cause many symptoms including back and neck pain, stiffness, soreness or discomfort. Chiropractic care is always adapted to the individual patient. It is a highly skilled treatment, and in the case of children, very gentle.

Is chiropractic treatment safe?

Yes, chiropractic treatment is safe and effective. While any form of health treatment contains a degree of inherent risk, there is little danger in chiropractic care when administered by a licensed practitioner. To assure competency, all states require that DCs be board-qualified, licensed, and regulated according to stringent criteria. Statistics show that patient risk is substantially lower in chiropractic as opposed to medical care, where the use of prescription drugs and surgery pose a greater risk.

Does chiropractic treatment require a referral from an MD?

No, a patient does not need referral by an MD before visiting a doctor of chiropractic. Some Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO’s), however, do require a Primary Care Provider (PCP) referral, as they consider Doctors of Chiropractic to be “specialists” much like a neurologist or orthopedist. Chiropractors are staff doctors, and are so defined in federal and state regulations. Following a consultation and examination, the doctor of chiropractic will arrive at a diagnosis under chiropractic care, or refer the patient to the appropriate health care provider.

What conditions do chiropractors treat?

Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches. Learn more about conditions we treat.