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Are adjustments safe?  Chiropractic treatments have a very good safety record. About 30 million people see a chiropractor each year, and only a handful report serious injuries. The most common side effect of chiropractic adjustments is slight soreness, which you can usually relieve by icing the sore area. It's a good idea, though, to tell both your chiropractor and your regular doctor about each other, so they can coordinate your care.

Recent medical research has linked a particular chiropractic treatment, in extremely rare cases, with stroke. The risk of stroke from chiropractic is extremely low, according to Anthony Rosner, Ph.D., the director of research at the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research. He points to a study using RAND data and published in Integrative Medicine, which estimates the risk of serious complications from cervical manipulation to be 6.39 per 10 million manipulations. You are many times more likely to be hurt driving to your appointment than to be hurt by an adjustment.  

How long will it be before I feel better? Many people notice improvement in their symptoms immediately. However, your individual progress will depend on many factors such as: the severity of your problem, how long you have had the complaint, age, your general conditioning and overall health.

Do the treatments hurt? Most people have no discomfort with or after adjustments. However, if there is substantial inflammation or swelling present there may be soreness after a treatment. About 20 percent or so will have some discomfort after a treatment similar to that of a vigorous workout. Approximately 5% of people will have soreness that lasts a day or two. 

Can I adjust myself?  No.  Chiropractic adjustments need to be performed by a skilled professional. Vertebrae that move easily and make a lot of noise when you twist your back or neck are usually the ones not needing an adjustment.  It is the tight stiff joints which need adjusting, while the others compensate by moving too much.  Movement in these hypermobile joints may give some temporary relief but doesn't do a thing for the joints needing adjustment. Even a chiropractor cannot adjust themselves.

What if I'm not improving? Typically patients are put on a two week trial of care. You should have considerable improvement in that time. If your progress is unacceptable or your condition worsens we may: perform a re-examination, refer you for further testing (x-rays, MRI, nerve conduction test), get a secondary consult with another health care provider. or continue care with co-treatment with another health care provider.

What if I need surgery?
Chiropractors believe and emphasize that the first response in most illnesses and injuries should be conservative care. However, chiropractors are also trained to recognize when an injury is outside of their scope of practice and will refer patients to the appropriate medical specialist if necessary.

Does your neck really crack when it's adjusted? There is frequently a “click or crack” sound associated with adjustments as a result of a gas bubble being released within the joint. It is technically known as  a “joint cavitation” or “audible release”. The noise is common and painless side effect of adjustments similar to the way your knuckles sometimes click. Not all patients hear this noise. It's not a sign that the adjustment is working or not working. Not all chiropractic adjusting techniques produce this noise. In fact, some “low force” techniques use little force and thus produce no noise at all.

Will I need X-rays?
Generally, no. However, there are certain examination findings or warning signs from the history that indicate x-rays or other tests may be necessary. We will talk about any necessary x-rays so that you can make an informed decision regarding your care. If required, X-rays may be ordered from a facility such as Nashoba Valley Medical Center or another local radiology facility. If test results from another provider are recent and available we will simply request them.

What kind of training is necessary to become a Doctor of Chiropractic? Before attending Chiropractic college, a student typically  complete an undergraduate program leading to a B.S. or B.A. degree.  This "pre-Chiropractic" course of study is identical to that required of a pre-med student including courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related lab work

Chiropractic students must then complete an additional four to five years of professional education. Chiropractic School and Medical School are essentially similar in the numbers of class hours (4,200) to graduate. The difference is in emphasis. Basic science courses are the comparable for both. Thereafter, medical training emphasizes the diagnosis of disease, pharmacology and surgical interventions. Chiropractic training emphasizes diagnosis and treatment problems in the muscle, joint and nervous system.

An internship is completed through clinics incorporated into chiropractic colleges, clinics in surrounding communities, and sometimes in hospitals. 

How often will I be seeing the doctor?  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). Treatment frequency and duration vary widely from patient to patient depending on the severity of their problem, age, physical fitness and other factors. However, here is a general guideline of typical visit frequencies:

Please note, these are guidelines and many people don’t fit into the categories. It is quite possible to get to 100% improvement in one visit, or in chronic cases it may take many weeks to get even close to 80% improvement.

If you are in severe pain or cannot go to work because of your problem you may be seen on a daily schedule to “get you out of the woods” and back to work.
Thereafter we will usually see patients three times per week until they are about 80% to 85% improved as agreed upon by you and Dr. Tansey. This may take between one to three weeks of regular treatments
At this level of improvement your schedule will be reduced to twice per week until about 90% improvement. This typically will last for one or two weeks.
After the 95% mark you may be seen once a week for up to three weeks to stabilize your improvement and make sure you are not vulnerable for a relapse. Then you will be released form active or acute care.

Do I have to go forever? No, you do not. Our primary goal is to get you feeling good and returned to full pain free activities. However, some patients choose to come in for optional periodic "Tune Ups" or "Wellness Care" for a variety of reasons.  

What is wellness care? The goal of wellness care is to monitor and maintain the spine and body at high levels of function. We may recheck ranges of motion or update your back exercises. We also frequently check in regarding other personal health goals you have such as stress management, diet or your overall fitness status.

Many of the stresses that cause problems and bring patients into the office in the first place continue after you have reached maximum improvement. Performance oriented athletes often continue with wellness care as they feel it helps them function at 100% in their athletic endeavors. It is not uncommon to find professional athletes use chiropractic to give them an “edge”. Other people with long term or recurrent conditions find that wellness care makes flare ups of their problems less severe or frequent. Over the 100 year history of chiropractic many other people have found that their general health is improved with regular chiropractic care. And finally, for some people regular chiropractic care is a luxury they afford themselves, much like a massage, just because it makes them feel good. Visit frequency varies between one visit every few weeks to once every few months. Once a month is average for people who choose this type of care.

Is it safe to see a chiropractor if I have osteoporosis? Yes.  Chiropractors are able to use various modified treatment methods that are safe for patients with osteoporosis.  The treatment helps keep joints mobile, improving balance and muscle tone and reducing the risk of falling.

Can you help my arthritis? Chiropractic can help the degenerated joints function better and feel much better. But the degenerative cannot be reversed. Degenerated joints are sometimes the result of the surrounding joints not doing their fair share of work, so that the load is not managed equally.  Adjustments help restore your normal joint function, spreading the load and taking excessive strain away from degenerated joints. People with arthritis also need to continue with all the activities they can ad immobility worsens arthritic changes.

Do I Have A Pinched Nerve Many patients consult physician because they think they have a "pinched nerve". Because of the way your spine is designed, abnormal spinal function can affect the tissues of the spinal cord and nerve roots. Pinched nerves (compressive lesion) are actually rare. Researchers suggest that only 10% to 15% of spine related problems are caused by direct pressure of the bone on nerve tissue.  This can cause pain in a specific pattern, numbness, weakness or a loss of reflexes. More frequently, the nerve is irritated mechanically or by the chemicals of inflammation which typically causes pain and tingling.

Can a person who had back surgery see a chiropractor?  In most cases, yes. After a full evaluation and review of your medical/surgical records, you can receive treatment for your specific condition.  Areas not suitable for treatment will be carefully avoided. Persistent pain after back surgery known as "failed back surgery syndrome" can, in many cases, be helped with chiropractic care. Treatment may include manipulation, stabilization exercises, and ergonomic advice. Areas not suitable for adjustments will be carefully avoided

Is it okay to see a chiropractor if I'm pregnant?  Generally, yes. In many cases, back pain associated with pregnancy can be helped with chiropractic care. Obstetric physicians and midwives frequently advise their patients to use chiropractic services, as they avoid exposing the baby to medication. There are types of adjustments that are suitable based on the patient's stage of pregnancy. If you have a high-risk pregnancy then Dr. Tansey will consult with your obstetrician before treatment begins.

Is it safe to adjust a child?  Yes, children also get neck and back pain just like adults from play, sitting at school and carrying heavy backpacks. These complaints are frequently not “growing pains” and can be helped with chiropractic management. Children that can walk are usually treated with traditional adjustments but more gently than an adult. Infants and toddlers require other “low force” options.

To schedule an evaluation or a complementary consultation call: 978-448-2800 or email Dr.Tansey


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Joseph X. Tansey, DC  205 Main Street (Route 119)

Groton, Massachusetts 01450 • 978-448-2800