Frequently Asked Questions

 The following is an excerpt from the American Chiropractic Association Website. 

What is Chiropractic?

 Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.

Doctors of Chiropractic – often referred to as chiropractors or chiropractic physicians – practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.


The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as “spinal manipulation,” also called “chiropractic adjustment.” The purpose of manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypomobile – or restricted in their movement – as a result of a tissue injury. Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function for the sufferer. Manipulation, or adjustment of the affected joint and tissues, restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and allowing tissues to heal.

Chiropractic adjustment rarely causes discomfort. However, patients may sometimes experience mild soreness or aching following treatment (as with some forms of exercise) that usually resolves within 12 to 48 hours.

In many cases, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care may be the primary method of treatment. When other medical conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition.

Doctors of chiropractic may assess patients through clinical examination, laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging and other diagnostic interventions to determine when chiropractic treatment is appropriate or when it is not appropriate. Chiropractors will readily refer patients to the appropriate health care provider when chiropractic care is not suitable for the patient’s condition, or the condition warrants co-management in conjunction with other members of the health care team.

Does chiropractic treatment require a referral from an MD?

 No, a patient does not need referral by an MD before visiting a doctor of chiropractic. Chiropractors are primary care physicians, and are so defined in federal and Minnesota state regulations. Following a consultation and examination, the doctor of chiropractic will arrive at a diagnosis under chiropractic care, or refer the patient to the appropriate health care provider. 

Is chiropractic treatment safe?

 It is important for patients to understand the risks associated with  some of the most common treatments for musculoskeletal pain —  prescription and over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs  (NSAIDS) — as these treatments may carry risks significantly greater  than those of chiropractic manipulation. According to a study from the  American Journal of Gastroenterology, approximately one-third of all  hospitalizations and deaths related to gastrointestinal bleeding can be  attributed to the use of aspirin or NSAID painkillers like ibuprofen.

Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free,  non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of  neuro-musculoskeletal complaints. Although chiropractic has an excellent  safety record, no health treatment is completely free of potential  adverse effects. The risks associated with chiropractic, however, are  very small. Many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic  treatment, but some may experience mild soreness or aching, just as they  do after some forms of exercise. Current literature shows that minor  discomfort or soreness following spinal manipulation typically fades  within 24 hours. Neck pain and some types of headaches are treated  through precise cervical manipulation. Cervical manipulation, often  called a neck adjustment, works to improve joint mobility in the neck,  restoring range of motion and reducing muscle spasm, which helps relieve  pressure and tension.

Neck manipulation is a remarkably safe procedure. While some reports  have associated upper high-velocity neck manipulation with a certain  kind of stroke, or vertebral artery dissection, there is not yet a clear  understanding of the connection. The occurrence appears to be very  rare—1 in 5.85 million manipulations— based on the clinical reports and  scientific studies to date. If you are visiting your doctor of  chiropractic with upper-neck pain or headache, be very specific about  your symptoms. This will help your doctor of chiropractic offer the  safest and most effective treatment, even if it involves referral to  another health care provider.

It is important for patients to understand the risks associated with  some of the most common treatments for musculoskeletal pain —  prescription and over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs  (NSAIDS) — as these treatments may carry risks significantly greater  than those of chiropractic manipulation. According to a study from the  American Journal of Gastroenterology, approximately one-third of all  hospitalizations and deaths related to gastrointestinal bleeding can be  attributed to the use of aspirin or NSAID painkillers like ibuprofen.

Is chiropractic treatment appropriate for babies and children?

Yes, babies and children can benefit from chiropractic care.  Whether its from the stresss of in utero constraints on a growing spine or the stress of labor and delivery, babies are often calmer and able to feed easier following care by a trained chiropractor.  And as they grow, children are very  physically active and experience many types of falls and blows from activities of daily living as well as from participating in sports.  Injuries such as these may cause many symptoms including back and neck  pain, stiffness, soreness or discomfort. Chiropractic care is always  adapted to the individual patient. It is a highly skilled treatment, and  in the case of children, very gentle.

What type of education and training do chiropractors have?

Chiropractors are educated as primary contact health care practitioners, with an emphasis on neuromusculoskeletal diagnosis and  treatment. Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are  among the most stringent of any of the health care professions. The  typical applicant at a chiropractic college has already acquired nearly  four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education, including  courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology  and related lab work. Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic  college, the requirements become even more demanding — four to five  academic years of professional study are the standard. Because of the  hands-on nature of chiropractic, and the intricate adjusting techniques,  a significant portion of time is spent in clinical training.

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

How is a chiropractic adjustment performed?

Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is a manual procedure that  utilizes the highly refined skills developed during the intensive years  of chiropractic education. The chiropractor typically uses his/her hands  to manipulate the joints of the body, particularly the spine, in order  to reduce pain, and restore or enhance joint function. Chiropractic  manipulation is a highly controlled procedure that rarely causes  discomfort. The chiropractor adapts the procedure to meet the specific  needs of each patient. Patients often note positive changes in their  symptoms immediately following treatment. 

Is chiropractic treatment ongoing?

 The hands-on nature of the chiropractic treatment is essentially what  requires patients to visit the chiropractor a number of times. To be  treated by a chiropractor, a patient needs to be in his or her office.  In contrast, a course of treatment from medical doctors often involves a  pre-established plan that is conducted at home (i.e. taking a course of  antibiotics once a day for a couple of weeks). A chiropractor may  provide acute, chronic, and/or preventive care thus making a certain  number of visits sometimes necessary. Your doctor of chiropractic should  tell you the extent of treatment recommended and how long you can  expect it to last. 

Why is there a popping sound when a joint is adjusted?

 Adjustment of a joint may result in release of a gas bubble between the  joints that makes a popping sound – it’s exactly the same as when you  “crack” your knuckles. The noise is caused by the change of pressure  within the joint that results in gas bubbles being released. There is no  pain typically involved. 

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is intended to get your body's energy-- which is called Qi in Chinese Medicine-- circulating properly to nourish all your organs, bones, and tissues.  If an imbalance of your Qi (or lifeforce) arises, symptoms of illness will result.  Acupuncture typically involves the insertion of very thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body.  While acupuncture can treat any condition, it has gained a lot of usage for managing pain and helping to combat addictions.  Increasingly, it is being used for overall wellness, including stress  management. 

What is Graston Technique?

 Graston Technique® is a unique, evidence-based form of  instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that enables clinicians to  effectively and efficiently address soft tissue lesions and fascial  restrictions resulting in improved patient outcomes. Graston Technique® uses specially  designed stainless steel instruments with unique treatment edges and  angles to deliver an effective means of manual therapy. The use of Graston instruments, when combined with appropriate therapeutic exercise, leads  to the restoration of pain-free movement and function. The instruments  also are used diagnostically to assess the kinetic chain, in an  efficient manner using the principles of regional interdependence.