When should you see a chiropractor?


People see chiropractors for all manner of services, from relief for back or neck pain to preventive care. Photo courtesy: Michael Dorausch

Those statistics got us wondering: Why do people see chiropractors?

For the answer, we sought out Dr. Kathleen Limbaga, of Tanaka and Associates Chiropractic and Massage in Aiea. Limbaga studied at University of Western States in Oregon and specializes in treating injuries sustained in car accidents.

How do I know when I need chiropractic services?

People often seek care from a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) for issues like back pain and neck pain, headaches or numbness. Sometimes, they’ve been recently injured. Sometimes, their problem has been longstanding. In either instance, if you’re having trouble performing your daily activities you may have a musculoskeletal condition that’s affecting the joints, bones and muscles. These are common reasons people seek out chiropractic care:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headache
  • Sports injuries
  • Work injuries
  • Auto injuries
  • Sciatica
  • Leg pain
  • Arm pain
  • Restricted movement in the back, neck or limbs

What kinds of services do chiropractors offer?

Chiropractors perform manipulation techniques and adjustments to the spinal vertebrae or other joints to improve joint function, decrease pain and muscle spasm. Other techniques may be used to release or stimulate muscles, depending on your condition. Exercises may be prescribed to support recovery. Chiropractors also offer counseling on diet, nutrition and advice on preventing injury.

Dr. Limbaga

Dr. Kathleen Limbaga

What kinds of things should I consider when selecting a chiropractor?

There are practical as well as personal matters to consider when choosing a chiropractor. Friends and relatives can be a great resource for a referral. Good questions to ask include:

  • How welcoming is the office?
  • How long do you have to wait to be seen?
  • Do you feel comfortable asking questions?
  • How long do you have to wait to schedule appointments?

When you have a list of prospective doctors, call or visit for a consultation before you schedule an appointment. This will give you an opportunity to ask questions regarding your condition and make an informed decision regarding your health care.

Will my insurance cover chiropractic services?

It depends. Chiropractic care is included in many health plans, but it’s best to verify your coverage before seeing a chiropractor.

What kind of education and training do you need to become a chiropractor?

There is a required minimum of 90 undergraduate semester hours to apply for admission to chiropractic school. Undergraduate course work emphasizes the sciences: biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related labs.

Chiropractic training is a 4-year academic program leading to a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree. Doctors of chiropractic learn about human anatomy, orthopedics, neurology, physiology, clinical diagnosis (including laboratory procedures), pathology, diagnostic imaging, exercise, nutrition, physiotherapy and more. Along with class work, students are also directly involved in patient care. And significant time is spent mastering manual manipulation and adjustment techniques.

In total, the chiropractic college 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 recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Sometimes my back makes a popping noise when I stretch at home. Is that my back adjusting itself?

Strictly speaking, no. Incidental joint sounds are most likely due to the movement of its ligaments and tendons or are caused by gas bubbles forming and popping within the joint, as when knuckles crack. Joint noise by itself is not worrisome. However joint noise accompanied by pain, swelling or loss of function should not be ignored. Your chiropractor can evaluate your condition and recommend a course of action.

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