Can you tell if a chiropractor is trying to rip you off? Do your recommendations seem excessive? Are you being pressured to pre-pay for months worth of care?
I know people are wary when they first come to my office. I’ve heard the horror stories. I’m also aware that some chiropractors are overcharging and over-adjusting.
Money is not every chiropractor’s main concern, though. Most of us just want to help our patients.
Having said that, we do have bills to pay.
Still, you should be able to find excellent chiropractic care at a reasonable fee with a little guidance.
Different Goals: One Reason You Might Think Your Chiropractor Is Trying To Rip You Off
There is often a contrast between what patients want from me and what I want for my patients.
People in pain want to feel better, but I want to improve a patient’s life for years to come, and that requires a special approach.
Put simply, improved spinal function and mobility is better long-term than simple pain relief. One makes life better temporarily. The other makes life better forever.
If this isn’t communicated properly, it’s easy to see why you might think your chiropractor is trying to rip you off.
Plus, the differences among chiropractors and their methods are many.
In one office, you might be given a series of spinal adjustments. At another, various therapies might be recommended along with the adjustments.
Some chiropractors use only their hands to adjust the spine while others use an instrument.
One chiropractor might recommend 12 adjustments for a flat fee while a different chiropractor suggests twice as many visits at 3 times the cost.
How is anyone supposed to know what to do?
Are More Than A Few Adjustments A Total Rip-Off?
We live in a symptom-driven society. We’re busy and we don’t like to slow down.
Pain can not only slow us down, however. It can stop us completely. When it does, we want to get back to our lives now! It is here that the goal between the chiropractor and patient often differs.
The patient wants to feel better quickly and inexpensively, but the chiropractor also wants to improve spinal function. Doing so can prevent future problems and enhance your quality of life.
Do you need more than a few adjustments? Well, it depends. What is your goal with seeking chiropractic care? Pain relief? Better movement? Pain prevention? All the above?
In my office, there are initially two phases of care.
The first phase is designed for fast pain relief. This may only require a few visits.
Phase two is where you might think your chiropractor is trying to rip you off. That’s because adjustments must continue until tissues, joints, and nerve function have healed.
The confusion lies in the fact that pain has often greatly diminished by this point. Nevertheless, phase two is where true healing occurs.
Are Spinal X-Rays A Total Rip-Off?
There are a few reasons why a chiropractor might want x-rays of your spine, none of which are a rip-off.
First, some adjusting techniques require very precise measurements that cannot be obtained without x-rays.
Think of a dentist who needs to fill a cavity. Accuracy becomes much more difficult without an image of the cavity’s exact size and location,
Second, a chiropractor might take an x-ray to see the extent of spinal decay present.
Again, as with dental care, simply looking into a person’s mouth cannot discern the true state of oral health. Likewise, spinal imaging let’s us see troublesome conditions like disc degeneration and arthritis.
In short, what feels like a small problem isn’t always minor. X-rays remove the guesswork in this regard.
Last, and probably most importantly, a chiropractor might want x-rays as a matter of safety.
It’s important to see the extent of a spinal deterioration if you’ve been in an accident or could possibly have a bone disease or spinal fracture.
Dentists take oral x-rays regularly to look for cavities and other problems that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Your chiropractor might do the same.
Is Paying Up Front A Total Rip-Off?
I visited an orthodontist a few years ago to get my teeth straightened. I had needed braces since I was a kid and wanted to preserve my oral health in the years to come.
My doctor suggested Invisalign® and the time required to complete my program was higher than most. In order to start the program, however, I had to pay for the entire thing up front.
Looking back, I understand why they required payment beforehand.
Mainly it ensured that I would follow through. I had a daily routine to follow, plus monthly visits to check my progress. If I had to pay for each appointment individually, I might have skipped a few or quit early.
Furthermore, my case took some unexpected twists and turns which required additional straightening trays and more work for the hygienists.
In hindsight, I saved money by pre-paying.
If you’re planning to follow through with your chiropractor’s recommended plan of care, there is often a discount for pre-payment.
Just ask beforehand if any additional services that are needed will be included or charged separately.
How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off By A Chiropractor
You can avoid the bad apples by observing some simple advice:
1. Be leery if every patient gets the same care plan or is sold the same product as everyone else. Not everyone is a chronic case that requires extensive corrective procedures, and not everyone needs a special pillow or brace that can only be purchased through that doctor. One size does not fit all when it comes to spinal correction.
2. Get a referral. You can avoid #1 by asking friends and family members which chiropractic offices they’ve visited and what their experiences were like. If you find that several people you know love one office in particular, check it out.
3. Go with your gut. If you aren’t able to get a referral, scheduling a consultation will give you a good feel for the office and its staff. Are your questions being answered? Is the staff pressuring or hurrying you? Are they explaining things? If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
4. Ask questions. Don’t make any decisions until your questions are answered and you’re comfortable with moving forward. If the doctor is very busy, he/she might not be able to explain every last detail right then, but additional time should be scheduled for your concerns if you ask for it.
5. Get a second opinion. Part of what we do at Consult-A-Chiro is advise people about their spinal condition and guide them about how to proceed. We also can give a second opinion regarding care recommendations you’ve received. See how it works.