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Addressing 3 Common Misconceptions of Chiropractic

Aren't Chiropractors Quacks?

You've probably heard from a family member or a friend at some point or another that has said "you shouldn't go to a chiropractor because they're quacks." Now, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but most of the time this statement comes at the expense of a lack of information or a lack of experience -- some people who share this opinion have never been to a chiropractor. Chiropractic is incredibly effective and it's been around producing life-changing results in those that utilize it since 1895!

The competency of chiropractors in a healthcare setting has been criticized consistently by members of the public and even other healthcare professions dating back to the profession's inception. In fact, in the late 1900s, there was a Supreme Court Case against the American Medical Association for attempting to alienate the chiropractic profession -- Wilk vs. American Medical Association (you can read more by following this link).

It may surprise you to learn that chiropractors go through incredibly rigorous classroom education before they are able to serve the public. Refer to the infographic below to see a breakdown of the classroom educational hours for chiropractors vs. medical students:

This is in no way comparing what medical doctors and chiropractors do in terms of the services they provide the public, but it is very important to remember that chiropractors have the necessary education and training to help you achieve your health goals and improve your quality of life! Our job as doctors is to educate you on the importance of maintaining a healthy spine and healthy lifestyle and how that affects your overall health and well-being.


Your Pain Brain

Pain plays a very large role in our lives and can impact our quality of life quite significantly. It's a very common reason that people seek out chiropractic care as well. But what is pain? Why does it happen? What causes us to feel pain?

Our brains perceive pain in a very interesting way -- they receive information from the periphery of the body through the activation of receptors called nociceptors. Certain inflammatory chemicals are released in response to tissue damage and these can further instigate nociceptor activity. This nociceptive input tells the nerve endings to fire off action potentials ("nerve signals"). The quality of nociceptive stimulus can dictate how frequently these signals are being fired off. The frequency of these signals dictates the intensity of the stimulus -- a higher frequency of firing means a more intense stimulus. Depending on the severity of tissue damage, the body can have a very quick response to pain or it can have a very slow response that can stick around even after the stimulus is removed (think chronic pain). (3) In cases of chronic pain in a chiropractic setting, we can address the issue that is causing the pain, but the pain may still persist due to the damage of the tissues surrounding the spine! If the tissues have been damaged for long enough, you can guarantee that it's going to take some time for you to start feeling better!

Pain processing from a neurological perspective is an incredibly complex topic that requires more than just a few minutes to sit and read through. One of the common misconceptions we need to address, though, is that chiropractic care is only good for pain. While it's emphatically true that chiropractic helps with pain, the benefits of chiropractic exist outside the realm of pain.


There are different sensory receptors in the body, all of which have differing functions. To keep things simple we will talk about mechanoreceptors and how they differ from nociceptors. This is the easiest way to break it down:

  • Mechanoreceptors respond primarily to touch, pressure, vibration, and joint position sense (this is the role of proprioceptors, which are another type of mechanoreceptor)

  • Nociceptors respond primarily to painful stimuli (usually an indicator of tissue damage)

The reason we focus on the differences between these types of sensory receptors is due to the fact that the thresholds for activating each receptor are different! Mechanoreceptors and proprioceptors have lower thresholds of activation than nociceptors!! This means that your body will recognize a change in pressure or a change in the position of a joint before it will sense pain.

If we are allowing pain to be the only reason that we look deeper into the quality of our health, then we are missing such a large piece of the puzzle. Pain is like a bad employee: it's usually the last one to show up and the first one to leave!


Isn't It Dangerous to Get My Spine Adjusted?

It's a little more complex than a simple "yes" or "no" answer. There are a variety of conditions that someone can have that would be a contraindication (aka "no no") to getting adjusted. The good news? Chiropractors are trained to snoop out these red flags with a detailed health consultation. If a red flag is discovered during your consultation, your chiropractor should be able to refer you to the appropriate health professional that specializes in treating that condition.

The fun doesn't stop there; one thing that I think is crucial to high-quality chiropractic care is the utilization of x-rays. Without being able to see the spine, how do we know that there isn't something lurking beneath the surface that is flying under the radar of a consultation? Utilizing x-ray technology allows us to get a snapshot of the health of your spine.

"To see is to know, to not see is to guess, and we are never going to guess with your health."

Following your initial visit, your chiropractor should come up with a game plan for what it's going to take for your body to respond and for you to start feeling better (this will vary from office to office, but most commonly a chiropractor will set you up on some form of structured care plan). Each subsequent visit will usually consist of getting adjusted. Every chiropractor is trained in the ability to adjust the spine, and the adjustment itself is very gentle and precise -- the adjustment should not require large amounts of rotation and/or torque on the spine (no, don't ask me about the Ring Dinger or the Y-Strap). There is a variable risk-reward relationship with certain adjusting procedures but your chiropractor should be trained in what adjusting style is best for you and/or if you have a condition where adjusting the spine is not advised. No two bodies are created equal and every single person responds differently to different adjusting techniques.

To make a long story short, the care that you receive in a chiropractic office is contingent on what is going on with your health. If a red flag is discovered during your initial visit, a chiropractor should refer you to or co-manage with another healthcare provider. Any good chiropractor knows when it's appropriate to adjust someone and when it's appropriate to refer you to another provider. The adjusting techniques that are utilized at most offices are safe, effective, and do not put you at any greater risk of injury as long as there is no pre-existing condition that would alter the care you receive.



Chiropractic is an effective tool to add to any healthy lifestyle. It's great for remedying aches, pains, headaches/migraines, and even conditions that aren't pain-related. Your chiropractor has gone through extensive training to be able to provide you with high-quality care and most people see positive results through chiropractic care.

Finding a chiropractor can be difficult, but there are a few criteria your chiropractor should fit:

  • Do they lead you through a detailed Day 1 New Patient Consultation?

  • Do they provide you with structured care recommendations?

  • Do they educate on the importance of maintaining a healthy spine long term?

  • Do they utilize imaging procedures to dive deeper into the quality of your health?

  • Do they provide high-quality care? Do their reviews accurately reflect the care they provide?

  • Do you feel like just a number in the office or do you feel that everyone has your best interests in mind?

Take the time to search around your area and find an office that best fits what you're looking for. Remember, it may take time to find an office that is the right fit and one that will get you the results that you're looking for!

Disclaimer: It's important to note that these posts do not contain medical advice and that if you have a serious condition, to please consult with you primary care provider.


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