28 Secrets Chiropractors Won’t Tell You for Free

Updated: Apr. 15, 2021

For starters, stop looking down at your phone to read this!

Should I see a chiropractor?

Chiropractors treat everything from low back pain to headaches. Read on for the things that chiropractors want you to know and expect before you make your first appointment.

Chiropractor Showing Xrays to Patient
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You don’t have to pay for pricey new X-rays every time

“Bring in any prior X-rays, notes, blood tests, MRI reports, or other testing you’ve had done to your first appointment with a new practitioner. That can save you a lot of time and money.” —Robert Silverman, DC, 2015 ACASC Sports Chiropractor of the Year and author of Inside-Out Health

man suffering from lower back pain
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Just because you’re feeling better doesn’t mean you are better

“When patients feel that they are ‘over the hump’ due to substantially decreased pain or no more pain, they discontinue treatment themselves. This puts them at serious risk of re-injury.” —Robert Silverman

Back problems.
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Your back pain may not be about your back

“I care far more about your system than your symptoms. Chiropractors are whole-body doctors treating not just the musculoskeletal system but also things like metabolic syndrome or diabetes—without the use of drugs that traditional doctors use. You may come in because of back pain but we’re looking for the sources of your back pain that go beyond just your back.” —Robert Silverman

chiropractor working at desk computer
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Referrals are our bread and butter

“Most of my patients come to me as referrals from other patients or practitioners. This makes me extra motivated to give you the best care so that you’ll feel comfortable sending your family and friends to me.” —Pamela Abramson-Levine, DC, family practice non-force chiropractor in Santa Monica, California

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If you don’t follow instructions well, the treatment won’t work well

“When patients do not follow all my at-home care prescriptions, it hinders my ability to help them. I can adjust you and get your body aligned properly, but if you are not doing the therapeutic exercises I prescribe, or if you are continuing to eat a highly inflammatory diet, you are not going to see the best results. Optimal results occur when the entire program prescribed is followed properly.” —Pamela Abramson-Levine

chiropractor helping man with pain
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You don’t have to snap, crackle, pop to get results

“There are many different techniques within the chiropractic profession. Some of them are low force, like Directional Non-Force Technique (DNFT). With this technique, there are no forceful manipulations, so you won’t hear the usual cracking or popping. It’s a very gentle and effective approach to getting the body back into proper alignment.” —Pamela Abramson-Levine

woman waking up in the morning
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Do you love to crack or pop your neck? Stop it

“Self-adjusting by turning or cranking your own neck to make it ‘pop’ may give temporary relief, but in most cases it is exacerbating a problem. Without proper touch and contact on the stuck joint, you’re likely doing damage to surrounding joints.” —Kris Birkeland, DC, president of Joint Ventures, LLC, operator of 28 The Joint Chiropractic Clinics

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Your phone addiction is keeping me in business

“One of the worst things a patient can do is have bad posture, and a lot of that stems from our bad habit of sitting down all day with smartphones, iPads, and laptops. Maintaining good posture helps keep our bones and joints in correct alignment so that the muscles are used correctly. This helps prevent abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that otherwise result in pain and degenerative arthritis.” —Nathan Leavitt, D.C., owner of West Knoxville Chiropractic

men running a marathon
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Want to run a marathon? You need me

“Chiropractic treatment enhances athletic and personal performance. Athletes like Michael Phelps, Jerry Rice, and Joe Montana are under regular chiropractic care. Chiropractors are used by NFL team to help with the conditioning, functionality, and endurance of professional football players.” —Nathan Leavitt

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Your house is your worst enemy

“Too many people live in an environment that doesn’t support good posture. For example, your desk chair needs to be at a good height for your legs to touch the floor; your computer monitor should be high enough so you don’t have to look down to see it; and you should have supportive pillows on the couch you use to watch TV.” —Jane Leavell, DC

pregnant woman at chiropractor

I’m better at helping some types of people than others

“Chiropractors can specialize, just like medical doctors can. So when you’re looking for a chiropractor, be conscious of what their area of expertise is, and find one that specializes in what you have going on. Some of the specialties include pediatric, pregnancy, nutrition, acupuncture, sports, and scoliosis.” —Jane Leavell

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We’re not “bone doctors”

“Most people think chiropractors work primarily with bones, when in actuality we work more with the circuitry of the nervous system to restore and maintain normal function as much as possible. Chiropractic treatments are designed to stimulate the nervous system and activate brain function.” —Robert Blaich, DC, general practitioner in natural health care

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“Popping” your back isn’t the same as getting an adjustment

“You may be able to twist in such a way to feel a ‘pop,’ but this isn’t adjusting anything. Rather, the noise is just air bubbles moving in the joint space. You can even cause damage to your spine and nervous system trying to pop your own back.” —Heather Van Wyhe, DC, F.A.S.A. of the Oklahoma Chiropractors’ Association

man eating a donut while sitting at desk working
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Don’t blame me if you’re not seeing the results you want

“Chiropractic can help with many things, but if you leave our offices and eat fast food, drink soda, smoke, and fill your bodies with processed and sugar foods, it’s going to hinder your ability to heal and you won’t get the best results. Patients who eat high amounts of processed foods, sugary treats, and fast foods do not hold their adjustments.” —Heather Van Wyhe

chiropractor adjusting infant's spine
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Newborns especially need to be adjusted

“Being born is a very natural event but also a very traumatic event in each of our lives. We want babies to be adjusted so that the brain and nervous systems develop to their fullest potential, so that children are never sick and can sleep throughout the entire night. (And mom and dad do as well!). Babies who are adjusted don’t tend to have to deal with high fevers and ear infections.” —Heather Van Wyhe

patient talking to chiropractor
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Stop hiding stuff from me

“To help you, we need a clear history of health concerns. Try not to leave anything out. While some information may not seem relevant to a current health complaint, there may in fact be some other factors from a past health concern that can help resolve what may seem to be a new complaint. Our job is to connect the dots, and sometimes things that seem irrelevant are in fact important.” —Shannon Patterson, DC

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How you get home from the appointment is important too

“Too many patients race out of the office to sit in a car in rush hour traffic. Instead, take a few minutes after your appointment with your chiropractor to go for a short mindful walk. Let the adjustment settle in before moving back into the busy pace of your life.” —Shannon Patterson

pilates class doing exercises
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Ignore your mother-in-law and that guy on the Internet

“Friends, family, and Internet posters suggest many methods to help you feel better, and you may be tempted to do them in addition to or instead of my advice. For instance, you may be told to do yoga or Pilates or that strengthening your core will cure your back pain. The problem is that there are many reasons why someone has back pain, and you need individualized advice. There is no cookie-cutter fix for low back pain.” —Matthew Cooper, DC

woman with back pain sitting at desk
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Don’t make me nag you about doing your homework, I’m not your mom

“Patients need to have an active role in their health—I cannot be a miracle cure. To get the best results you have to do your home exercises, correct your posture, eat healthfully, and follow my directions when you’re not in my office.” —Scott Schreiber, DC, board certified in rehabilitation and clinical nutrition

woman holding ice pack on shoulder
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Always ice, never heat

“Patients always prefer heat on a sore spot after a treatment because it feels better at the time. The problem is that when you have acute injuries to the joints, putting heat on the back can cause more swelling and prolong healing time. So putting ice on the initial injury will help my job be a little easier and help injuries recover faster.” —Joseph McNamara, DACNB, FACFN, DC, BS and owner of McNamara Chiropractic in Cumming, Georgia. (Here’s when to use ice and when to use heat for your pain.)

surgeons working in operating room in hospital
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I can’t fix bad surgery

“The worst thing patients can do is go out and have surgery first. Musculoskeletal surgery is permanent and is not always successful. Then they come to us and want us to try to make it better. Sometimes we can help but really it would be better if they saw a chiropractor first, before going under the knife.” —Jeff Williams, DC, Creek Stone Integrated Care in Amarillo, Texas

man suffering from back pain at work
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Your boss doesn’t care about your bad back

“Work responsibilities tend to cause people to take on more than they can or should. Many times I’ll see some great early progress only to see the patient go and aggravate their complaint because they didn’t want to get in trouble at work or in school athletics.” —Jeff Williams

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Chiropractic isn’t a religion, it’s a science

“Often I hear people say that they ‘don’t believe’ in chiropractic care, but there is decades of research backing our profession, much done by governments, academics, and even the medical profession. This isn’t something you believe in or not, like magic, it’s rooted in science and can be quite powerful.” —Jeff Williams

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Men, look into getting a murse (a man purse)

“I see men all the time keeping their wallet in their back pocket. The problem is that every time they sit they are creating a postural distortion to the lumbar spine which then affects the entire spine and nervous system. This bad habit over time can create weakness and instability, especially in the lumbar spine and lower back.” —Gena Bofshever, DC

woman doing an online workout at home
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I know when you’re lying about exercising

“Most people know they should be exercising, or at least stretching, each day. But many feel like they don’t have the time so they skip it. However, I can tell if you’re not taking at least five to 10 minutes a day to exercise as you improve after treatment but regress in between sessions because you aren’t doing enough to help yourself.” —Mark El-Hayek, D.C., owner of Spine and Posture Care in Sydney, Australia

close up of woman holding pen to personal calendar
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Stop waiting so long to come in

“Too many people wait to seek help until their pain is severe. But pain is the last signal in the body to turn on to let us know that something is not right. Addressing symptoms early on can change the duration of a treatment plan. Patients often want a quick fix, and that is more likely to happen by paying attention to what your body is telling you, and seeking care in a timely fashion.” —Rubina Tahir, DC, host and producer of The Rx on mynewphilly.com.

rear view of man holding shoulder from pain
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It might feel worse before it feels better

“As I create movement through the spine or extremities, the muscles will try to guard and protect the body. That means that a patient will most likely get muscle spasms and tightness or soreness from the adjustments. I recommend ice to help calm down the muscle spasms and helps with soreness throughout the process.” —Matt Tanneberg, DC, CSCS, sports Chiropractor at Arcadia Health and Wellness Chiropractic in Phoenix, Arizona

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My malpractice insurance is just $2,000 a year

“There is this misconception that chiropractic care is dangerous. But if you look at a surgeon’s malpractice insurance, it will be anywhere from $80,000 to $150,000 per year; a medical doctor has malpractice anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 per year; and yet my malpractice is just $2,000 per year. If what I did was dangerous, my malpractice would be comparable to, or more than, that of a medical doctor or a surgeon.” —Matt Tanneberg