One of the most common questions that I receive from out of town friends and family is how to go about finding a good chiropractor so I have put this top 11 ways together to try to help you do just that.
Some of the advice I give here may rile some of my insecure colleagues but that’s not my concern. One of my life-long goals is that more than half of the people in the world can receive at least one Chiropractic Adjustment. Of course I would also like the experience to be as pleasant as possible. I am currently working on teaching people to do much of what I do in my own office to general public so that they can spread the wondrous effects of the adjustment (whether you are experiencing symptoms or not).
The best way to be referred to any health professional is through a personal referral from someone you trust. It certainly doesn’t guarantee satisfaction but it does make your chances more likely. In any case, I would still recommend that you carry out the steps below.
If you are cold calling an office from the Yellow Pages or some other advertisement then, I would first tell them that you are “making a decision about who to receive chiropractic care from and since you don’t know of any doctors, you are calling five offices to see who will be the best for your particular case”. In this case, it is useful to know beforehand exactly what you require. Is it pain relief, improved mobility, improved digestion, wellness care or any combination of things?
Just be up front and honest with them – I am sure they will appreciate that. Tell them a little about your case and whether they think that they can help. A good sign will be a receptionist who takes your name and number and gets the doctor to call you back. Otherwise, if they can tell you of others that they have had success with in a similar situation to yours then that is a good sign too. If possible, ask for numbers to speak with those people. Many offices run inexpensive or free initial consultations. Take advantage of those or request a no-obligation consultation. You may feel strange making such a request but rest assured if I were to receive one myself, I would leap at the opportunity. Someone who is doing their homework is likely to make a much better patient who follows recommendations.
Questions, questions, questions. Just keep asking questions until you are satisfied.
In most cases you SHOULD receive better care from a professional than what you can deliver and receive at home which is why I have compiled my top 11.
So here they are. In no particular order. Drum-roll please…
1. They seem to care about you. From the time that you call they are caring and empathetic but still professional. In my opinion any healer should not fall into a position of sympathy but you should still feel heard and cared about.
2. Shuts up and listens. They listen to your descriptions of what is happening with you, your history and any concerns that you may have about what may happen (e.g. the adjustments being uncomfortable).
3. Go with your gut instinct. If you feel uncomfortable with being somewhere, go somewhere else. It’s as simple as that. If you and the doctor (or practice) are not a good match it will just make everyone uncomfortable.
4. Uses technology to back up clinical findings. X-rays are not a great diagnostic tool but can be valuable to determine pathologies and structure, especially after an accident. I prefer subtler measurements such as surface electromyography and infrared thermal scanning, which give wonderful information about the function. This will also give them the ability to assess your progress with future exams and assessments. The next trick is that they can explain it in a clear and succinct way.
5. Touches you. Now this may seem like a strange one but it doesn’t matter how many tests and questions a prospective doctor or assistant may ask, if they never touch (palpate) you, it is going to be difficult for them to feel for what is happening. This achieves two outcomes: it helps them to feel imbalances and abnormalities and; begins the healing process. Much of the healing happens with many people in my office the moment I lay my hands on them. It is sad but true that many people are devoid of much physical human contact at all.
6. Gives you hope and reassurance. You feel reassured that you are in the right place to get the care that you need.
7. Isn’t just talking about your symptoms. This may seem a little odd since the chances are that you are in there for a particular concern. Your body is an extremely complicated array of interlinked activities. In fact, it is truly stunning how all of these things co-ordinate so perfectly. Hence, one thing can certainly influence and affect another. They therefore need to know about your other body systems, history and relevant activities.
8. When you are speaking with them, they are recording the findings with notes that they make available to you if you request them. No matter how good someone’s memory is they will need a record of what you have told them. Good notes have wider implications. This generally means that they will be more meticulous in caring for you as well. Sloppiness here may well extend to clinical sloppiness and taking short-cuts.
9. Doesn’t recommend long programs (more than 4-6 weeks) initially without good reason. I understand well that it can really take sometimes take several years to completely correct a problem (or myriad of problems as is more likely) that has been developing for decades but it is impossible to know how you in particular will respond without reassessment. An initial period of 4-6 weeks then is an adequate period to ensure that your body is changing in the right sort of ways. If not, something needs to change; either they change what they are doing or you find someone else.
10. Explains all procedures thoroughly. As I said earlier, you should have all of your questions exhausted. This will also show that the doctor knows what he or she is talking about. You should have confidence in anyone you are seeking and entrusting your body and personal information to. Their workplace may be called a practice but you don’t really want them to be experimenting on you.
11. Doesn’t bad-mouth others. They are confident enough if they know you have sought the advice of others that they don’t have to put them down to build themselves up. That goes for speaking about other chiropractors and other health professions.
What I strongly recommend is that you find a good doctor, get your structure stable, and then enter a period of maintenance or wellness care. This will require periodic, but less frequent, adjustments and caring for your emotional, physical and biochemical (nutritional) wellbeing.