Created by the Center for Spirituality & Healing and Charlson Meadows.

How Can I Find a Qualified Chiropractor?

The best way to find a qualified chiropractor is through another provider's referral or through a personal referral from a friend. The advice of someone with first hand experience is always valuable when choosing a healthcare provider.

In addition, national associations including the American Chiropractic Association and state trade associations maintain listings of board certified chiropractors.

If you have a specific concern or are scheduling care for a child, for example, you may want to look for a chiropractor with specialization and experience in that area. You might call the chiropractor's office and ask about the chiropractor's education and experience with particular conditions. If you have insurance coverage, you will also want investigate whether or not that chiropractor is covered under your plan.

Mother with child talking with chiropracterWhat are some of the differences among chiropractors that I should be aware of?

It should be noted that the care recommendations you receive from one office may be quite different from those you receive from another office. In contrast to medicine, there is a much wider range of acceptable approaches and types of treatments given across chiropractic.

There are more than 100 named chiropractic methods, each varying in the approach to assessment and corrective techniques. Some rely on X-rays, while others utilize spinal motion or the responses to various "touch" point challenges. Examples of these various methods are Motion Palpation, Gonstead, and Applied Kinesiology, each employing their own assessment approach and type of adjustment.

Many chiropractors will incorporate a variety of methods in practice, adapting to the patient or to the problem at hand. These are often referred to as Diversified or Integrated techniques. No one approach has yet proved superior to another. If you are interested, you should ask about the techniques and why the chiropractor uses them, and perhaps scan the Web for more information.

Other questions you might ask when selecting a chiropractor:

  • How they feel about working collaboratively with your primary care doctor
  • How willing they are to refer you to specialists
  • What services they provide in their office, such as physiotherapy
  • Their preferred goals of care. Ask what is typically done on a first visit (you should expect to be treated, not just assessed). Continued care to sustain wellness is good practice, but this decision will need to come through thoughtful discussions between you and your chiropractor.

How much does it cost?Insurance plans

The cost of chiropractic care will vary in part upon where you live and the type of coverage you carry. If you have health insurance, check your insurance policies, since many insurers cover chiropractic care. Auto accidents and on-the-job injuries are also usually covered. Your policy may require you use chiropractors only within your provider network, stipulate that care must be approved in advance, require a copay, or have limits on the number of visits covered.

The cost of an initial visit normally includes an examination and often a set of X-rays. The cost of a moderate intake exam and X-rays might be about $160. The charges for more extensive examinations and X-rays will of course be higher. Subsequent visits for care might be in the approximate range of $50 to $90 per visit, again related to the number of services needed for your care.

Compared with other types of complementary or alternative care, coverage of chiropractic by insurance plans is extensive. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, more than 50 percent of health maintenance organizations (HMOs), more than 75 percent of private health care plans, and all state workers' compensation systems covered chiropractic treatment as of 2002.

In addition, Medicare covers chiropractic visits, and at least two dozen states cover chiropractic treatment under Medicaid.

Expert Contributor: 
Larry Kuusisto, PhD, DC

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