11 Essential Tips For Choosing a Chiropractor
Since I opened Ravenswood Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Chicago in 2003, I’ve been helping people like you overcome injuries and chronic pain conditions.
This article isn’t going to preach to you about how chiropractic care can treat a large variety of chronic pain conditions or help you recover from chronic debilitating pain. Instead, I want to share information on how you can choose a chiropractic office that is right for you and your specific needs. It’s the same way I evaluate healthcare providers for my family and help my patients find a new chiropractor when they move or sometimes if they are traveling and need help immediately.
Believe it or not, finding the right chiropractic office can be more complicated than calling up the first clinic with a 5-star rating you find in an online search. The doctor’s philosophy, location, hours, and billing practices should all be considered for your best experience.
If you have any questions after reading this, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I am happy to help in any way I can. I can be reached at 773.878.7330.
The checklist below will present you with questions you can consider when searching for your next Chiropractor. This will help you make an informed decision and get the best treatment possible.
My goal and passion are to help you live without struggling with pain. So, let’s dive in…
Checklist: 11 Essential Tips for Choosing a Chiropractor
Choosing a chiropractor can be difficult, especially if you live in a city like Chicago, where many options exist. In addition, with all the information online, it can get overwhelming quickly. To help you get the care you need, I’ve compiled a checklist of questions you can ask the chiropractic office you are considering.
Each question will be followed by a “good answer” and a “poor answer” example representing how some of the offices I’ve interviewed for my patients responded to the questions. This will help you make an informed decision, choose an office well-suited for your needs, and avoid offices that may not fit you well.
Remember that this is a general checklist and isn’t presented in order of importance. Your condition, budget, location, and other factors will determine which items on this list are most important to you.
Now, Let’s Get Started
Does The Chiropractor Have Experience With My Condition?
Good Answer: You must have an exam with the Chiropractor or be previously diagnosed with a condition before the Chiropractor can answer. However, in general cases, such as with knee pain or other joint pain, a chiropractor can tell you whether or not it’s something they can help you with. Working with a chiropractor that has experience treating your condition is always best, regardless of your condition. In the example above with knee pain, some chiropractors only treat the spine, whereas others, like myself, treat all joints, including knee pain.
Poor Answer: Like with any healthcare provider, if the Chiropractor you are interviewing has yet to experience your condition, it may not be a good fit for treatment. However, they can help you by diagnosing your condition or referring you to a chiropractor in their area who has experience with your condition. If the Chiropractor you choose can’t help you, ask them to refer you to someone who can.
What Type of Chiropractic Does the Chiropractor Practice?
In this case, there is no best answer. The type of treatment that is best for you depends on their experience with your condition and your preference.
Like other healthcare providers, chiropractors have different treatment philosophies. For example, you may encounter deep force, low force adjustments, traction tables, flexion tables, energy healing, integrative care, activators, lasers, ultrasound, shockwave, and clinical or evidence-based medicine models.
If you have questions about chiropractic methods, how they work, and which is suitable for you, give us a call at 773.878.7330
Are X-Ray’s Mandatory?
The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors. X-rays are generally mandatory in the following cases:
- trauma (injury)
- an infection known or suspected
- cancer or tumor is known or suspected
- arthritis or other joint disease is known or suspected
- If you are over 50 (depending on condition)
A good chiropractic office will happily share its X-ray policy with you upfront, so don’t hesitate to ask. This is especially important if your insurance policy has specific cases and conditions about X-rays.
At our clinic, we don’t believe every patient needs X-rays or needs to be X-rayed every few months to prove the treatment is working. Radiation is radiation and should be used only when needed.
Can You Get The Treatment Plan In Writing?
Good answer: All chiropractic offices should offer to give you your treatment plan in writing or give it to you upon request.
Poor answer: Be cautious of offices that refuse to give you your treatment plan in writing.
Do They Re-evaluate Your Progress (progress exams)?
GOOD: Yes, Every 2-3 weeks
BAD: Anything longer than 3 weeks
What Types of Services Do They Offer?
Some chiropractors only adjust. Other chiropractic offices like here at Ravenswood Chiropractic do much more by offering advanced chiropractic services such as high-intensity laser and shockwave therapy as well as Physical Therapy, Acupuncture, Clinical Massage, and Functional Medicine.
Do They Take Your Insurance or Provide a Discount?
Good answer: Knowing whether or not your insurance covers your treatment may require an exam or a previous diagnosis. A good office can pre-verify your insurance before your first visit so you know what treatments are generally covered and if the exam is covered. I also recommend checking with your insurance company because sometimes they do not provide accurate benefit verification to doctors’ offices.
Some offices, like ours, have unique self-payment plans available if you qualify or offer services like Care Credit. For example, if you have a high deductible, no coverage, or no insurance, we could provide you with a discounted self-pay option. Some offices may not accept your insurance or don’t accept insurance. If you plan on filing a claim independently, check with the office to ensure they can provide what you need to submit your claim for reimbursement.
How Long Will Treatment Last?
Good Answer: Treatment is based on various factors, including the injury’s or condition’s severity. Treatment for non-complicated minor injury may take two weeks at three appointments a week to get you out of pain, then two appointments for two additional weeks after that for further recovery. Best practices dictate there should be a re-exam every four weeks to determine progress.
Remember that severe or complicated injuries or chronic conditions will naturally take longer. In all cases, an initial exam will be needed to determine your treatment plan.
Poor Answer: if the scheduler offers you a timetable without you first getting an exam, it can be a sign that they use the same treatment frequency schedule regardless of your specific needs. Also, be wary of lengthy treatment schedules that don’t include re-exams at regular intervals.
*Any treatment plan beyond six weeks without a progress exam can be considered a red flag.
Is There a Wait Time?
Good answer: No-wait clinics like ours are a good option if your time is valuable. No wait clinics respect your time and run a tight ship. Just be aware that emergencies happen and, sometimes, can even cause no-wait clinics to run late.
Poor answer: If a clinic expects you to wait for 30 min or more after you arrive for every appointment, that can add up, and it could be a sign of a disorganized office or that they don’t respect your time. Respect yourself by finding a clinic that appreciates you.
What Are The Clinic Hours?
Good answer: You need a clinic that can match your availability at least three times a week for your initial treatment because you will probably need more appointments early on during your care. Also, be aware that if you receive other services besides chiropractic adjustments, such as an exam, physical therapy, massage therapy, or acupuncture, expect each service to last an additional 30 to 60 minutes.
If the clinic’s hours don’t match your schedule, it will be hard for you to keep appointments. This will be stressful for you, so you may need to look elsewhere.
Where Is The Clinic Located?
Good answer: Ideally, you want to visit a chiropractor within 20 minutes of where you work or live. By making the trip more manageable, you also make it easier to keep appointments. This will help you recover from injuries faster and treat chronic pain conditions more effectively.
Poor answers; A chiropractic office that is more than 30 minutes away can make visits a hassle and lead to missed appointments. This can lead to your condition becoming worse and further your injury.
Additionally, sometimes I come across red flags when interviewing providers, so I want to share this short list with you so you can also be on the lookout. While most chiropractors are honest, hardworking doctors, as in any profession, some may be unable to truly help with your condition.
- They offer a unique new technique no one knows about, and no scientific literature supports its use.
- They claim to cure internal complaints like asthma or heartburn with adjustments alone. There is no education, training, or evidence to support this.
- Suggests long treatment plans 3x a week for six months. In most cases, treatment plans should only last a few months and feature exams to re-evaluate your condition. Even in cases of chronic pain, requiring you to visit the office frequently over many months is usually abnormal. For example, if an office suggests a treatment plan consisting of 3 appointments a week for six months or longer without re-exams.
- Ongoing care without re-exams – similar to above, if a chiropractic office prescribes ongoing care with no re-exams, they may not be helping you recover from your condition even in cases of chronic pain; re-exams should be mandatory so that treatment can be adjusted accordingly or discontinued if appropriate.
- Offers the same treatment plan for each patient: Chiropractic offices that provide the same treatment plan for all patients are either unskilled or lazy. Find a chiropractor to evaluate your condition and suggest a plan for your needs.
- Requires upfront payment: No chiropractic office should require an upfront payment. If they do, chances are they are more interested in their profit margin than they are in your health, And if you are using your insurance, it is illegal for them to ask for payment until the Explanation Of Benefits (EOB) comes in from your insurance company stating what your payment portion should be.
- Conducts questionable insurance practices: not collecting deductibles, billing non-billable services under billable services, etc., is all insurance fraud that can get your Chiropractor and YOU in trouble. Pay close attention to how you and your insurance company are billed.
If you live in the Chicago area, let us help you heal.
Living with chronic pain should not be an option. It not only affects your happiness and quality of life, but it also affects your friends, family, and everyone else who cares about you.
The good news is that you don’t have to suffer from the debilitating effects of chronic pain daily. Whether your pain stems from an injury or an ongoing condition, there is a solution, and help is available.
Our Team at Ravenswood Chiropractic and Wellness Center in Chicago is here to help you manage and heal your pain. We work with you in an evidence-based, science-based, integrative care setting to develop a comprehensive treatment plan personalized to your needs so that we can address the source of the pain and its associated symptoms.
Our services include:
- chiropractic care
- class IV laser
- shockwave therapy
- physical therapy
- massage therapy
- functional medicine
Call today to feel better tomorrow.
If you or someone you love is living with chronic pain, now is the time to do something about it. Remember, chronic pain rarely, if ever, goes away on its own; in most cases, it worsens, leading to even more significant pain and crippling effects on your body.
Call or schedule a free consultation, and let’s talk about how we can help you get pain-free so that you can get back to enjoying life rather than struggling through it.
Dr. Todd Renn D.C. has been a chiropractic physician for over 20 years. He is dedicated to helping his patients achieve optimal health through non-invasive chiropractic techniques. Dr. Renn D.C. is passionate about educating his patients and empowering them to take a proactive approach to their health. He is highly respected in the chiropractic community and committed to providing safe and effective evidence-based patient care. Dr. Renn D.C. enjoys staying active with his family and enjoying outdoor activities in his free time.