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“Should I check with my regular doctor first before consulting with or receiving treatment from a doctor of chiropractic?”

While it is increasingly less the case in today’s society, not all medical doctors are open to chiropractic, or proactive about referring their patients out for chiropractic therapy. Traditional medical training after all has very little exposure to the awesomeness of chiropractic treatment. Traditional medical training is focused on treating diseases with drugs and surgery. Since chiropractic therapy is a drugless, non-surgical approach to restoring health, often times when a patient asks his or her regular physician about the chiropractic option, the physician may know little more than the patient, and it has been historically difficult for some physicians to recognize the value of a form of treatment they know little about.

In short, doctors of chiropractic are licensed in all 52 states (and in most countries across the globe.) By virtue of the education and training, we are trained to independently recognize a patient’s condition as either appropriate, or not appropriate for chiropractic treatment.  That is to say, unlike a physical therapist (also a terrific option for many), doctors of chiropractic are legally defined by Medicare as “physicians,” and therefore do not require a referral from another physician to diagnose and treat a patient for muscle skeletal related problems. 

In situations where individuals are concerned that they have a condition which may be aggravated or worsened by chiropractic treatment, except in very rare circumstances, the chiropractor is the best person to assess the appropriateness of chiropractic treatment, since he/she is the one trained as a chiropractor, after all.  I will just say that a substantial component of chiropractic training is dedicated towards recognizing the safety of chiropractic manipulation (“adjustments”) for particular conditions.  To state another way, just as all patients have an interest in not being aggravated or hurt by a particular treatment, doctors of chiropractic have every interest in avoiding situations where treatment would yield unfavorable results. 

This being said, if you feel more comfortable discussing with your regular doctor prior to consulting with a doctor of chiropractic, then that is a valid feeling and a personal choice only you can make for yourself. However, from a professional standpoint, as doctors of chiropractic, by virtue of our licensing and training, we are able to recognize our abilities and limitations with all conditions.  To conclude on this point, there are exceptions to every rule. Yet if someone has a very rare condition, a responsible chiropractor will avoid treatment until the condition is diagnosed by the appropriate specialist. Furthermore, most doctors of chiropractic maintain relationships with physicians from other disciplines and refer patients out as needed. Yet, either way, it is generally safe to consult with a chiropractor first if you are interested in this form of treatment. The bottom line is, always do what you are most comfortable with. If you are not sure, ask some friends or relatives for a name of a chiropractor they trust and have had good experiences with.