A difficult question to answer
I have had one or two people complain that one of the problems of having lower back pain is finding the appropriate person to treat it. They know they need help and are told to find a chiropractor but not just any chiropractor, they are told to find a “good” chiropractor. How on earth can you tell a “good” chiropractor from an “average” or a “dodgy” chiropractor? And what do they mean by “good” anyway?
What is a good chiropractor?
Its very subjective which makes it difficult for me to guess what the general public means when they use the term “good chiropractor”. I imagine that every chiropractor believes themselves to be great and everyone who regularly goes to see a chiropractor probably believes that their chiropractor is the best.
What do you need?
As the patient your needs come first, so what is it that you want from your chiropractor?
Do you want them to simply examine and treat the problem at hand. You understand that they will be interested in your diet, medical history, psychosocial problems etc. because those aspects will influence your prognosis but you don’t really want them treated.
Maybe you are a sports person and although you don’t have any pain at the moment you want to be functioning optimally in order to prevent injury and to give you an advantage in competition.
Perhaps you have a complex history with regards to biomechanical problems – Injuries or wear and tear. You realise that it’s not going to be a simple quick fix but you would really like to manage it so that you can have an active retirement and prevent further deterioration as much as possible.
Are you pregnant and just want some help to get through the pregnancy as pain free as possible?
You see, chiropractors don’t simply fall into one category. We are adaptable and able to respond the needs of the patient in front of us.
Look for a chiropractor like you would look for a good restaurant
Try to get some recommendations. If you know someone who has seen the chiropractor you are considering ask them about it. Did it help with their problem. Were the staff professional and friendly. Was it clean, tidy and well run?
Look at online reviews. They could have all been made up, especially the ones on the website (ours aren’t I promise!). Facebook and google reviews are very difficult to fake. Don’t expect them to be all 100% 5 star but close to that is nice.
Look at the menu. I was once told that you could judge a good restaurant by the menu – the less they have on offer the better it is likely to be. Sometimes when you look at websites they have long lists of things that they can treat, while I don’t doubt that they can do all of what is on the list it is harder to be an expert in ten things than it is to be an expert at 3 things. As a chiropractor I am very good at treating problems relating to the spine. I can treat other parts of the musculoskeletal system as I have learnt similar examination and treatment techniques as physios (for example. I am very good at the spine though.
Availability. It is tempting to think that someone who is booked up for the next 2 months must be amazing! However if they are only available for appointments 2 hours a day and those two hours clash with your working arrangements this is probably not the therapist you want. If you have a severe case of recent onset lower back pain you really need to see someone ASAP so if they offer you an appointment tomorrow it is probably because they plan for emergency patients just like you.
Communication. Not just do they answer the phone on the first ring but can you understand what they are on about when you read their website? If it’s a load of language that doesn’t make any sense to you then it seems possible that they might not be right for you. Communication is an extremely important part of your chiropractic appointments you really do want to be able to understand each other.
To sum up
When you are looking for someone to treat you consider first what your needs actually are. Think about the sort of person you are most likely to communicate and work well with. Do as much research as possible (but please take a lot of what you may find on google/youtube with a pinch of salt!).