Hey guys, Dr. Lell here. This blog might upset some of my colleagues; some of whom are even my friends. But I don’t maintain this website to keep professional acquaintances happy; I keep this website to take care of patients. Today I’m going to offer some advice on how to choose a Chiropractor. This isn’t going to be the typical fluffy stuff you get from the internet, it’s going to be the frank no-nonsense advice I gave a relative who lives out of state.
I’m active in my state’s association and if memory serves, there are around 3,000 Chiropractors in Oregon and about 1,400 of them are squeezed here in Portland. That’s a LOT of chiropractors. I drive by 5 in Sellwood alone on my way into the clinic. So there’s a LOT to choose from. Now I’m not writing this to disparage anyone or the profession that I work to defend and protect, but it’s a simple truth that every barrel of apples has a few bad eggs (I think that’s how the expression goes). People want to see a good Chiropractor just like they want to see a good lawyer or a good surgeon or mechanic. Are the others bad? Not necessarily. I just wouldn’t send my grandma to them because there are those few chiropractors that don’t do a great job (like some surgeons I know) and those who are more interested in your money than your well-being (like some lawyers I know). So here are my top 5 guiding principles on how to choose a Chiropractor. Now many of you reading this have already chosen your chiropractor – me – and you made a good choice lol. But for those that haven’t or have never seen a chiropractor before, this should be some good information.
I think the most important thing is that your personalities get along. You can usually tell by the time the history is done whether or not you’ll like him/her. This is so important because Chiropractic Medicine is up-close and personal care. Why would you want someone so close to you that you don’t like or think is creepy or smells weird. I also believe that a good doctor-patient relationship is built on amazing communication and trust which you won’t be willing to give to someone that you don’t really like. All of my patients know this about me by the end of the first day: I love to talk and explain things to death, I’m a huge dork with a corny sense of humor, and I’ll never comfort you with a half truth – I don’t sugarcoat. And if I don’t know something, I’ll admit it and find the answer rather than pulling something that sounds correct from the air.
2. Avoid Long Pre-Pay Plans
Chiropractic care beyond simple symptom relief takes time because we work with the body and we do it naturally. How much time will be required is dependant on the person and case. And I get the advantages of prepaid plans. They save time and money for the patient and hassle for the office staff. But if you’re being pressured into signing and paying for a care plan of many, many months duration and for several thousands of dollars – run for the hills or seek out a second opinion.
3. If you aren’t getting better, your care should change
There are dozens if not ….many dozens of ways to go about fixing someone. After some time has passed and you just aren’t getting any better, the care you receive should change. If something doesn’t work, try something new. If you’re getting the same thing every appointment and you’ve made it clear that you’re not getting better, then your chiropractor may be a one-trick pony, a one-tune piano, a one-verse song, a one….you get the idea. It may be time to either ask for a new approach or seek out someone else.
4. If it sounds like BS, it probably is
Look, one of the reasons people go to chiropractors, acupuncturists, and the like is because they want a different view and an alternative approach to the standard medical script of “go home and take these pills.” A couple of weeks ago, my primary care doctor prescribed me a medication. I asked if there were any alternatives and he said, “yes there are different approaches we could take. -You could take this drug instead.” And that’s what’s so great about the Chiropractic profession; we aren’t ALL practicing from the same play-book. We’re diverse in our approaches. But sometimes you’ll get a guy coming from far left field. His review of findings sounds more like an idea for a science fiction novel. Now it’s okay if you don’t always understand what your doctor is talking about. After all, he knows the body pretty in-depth and may use words and concepts that you have never heard of because you didn’t spend as many years studying the subject. And that’s okay and normal. But if what he’s saying sounds like complete and total BS, then chances are it is. Go to the next guy down the road or seek a second opinion (and don’t let it be the internet’s Dr. Google).
5. The office regularly takes X-rays every few months to “see how things are going”
Unless you’ve got a progressive condition that needs to be monitored, there’s no reason for routine x-rays of your spine every few months (there are always exceptions like outdated medicare laws and other select non-progressive conditions). X-rays on the first day is a very common practice. But ask, “will this be the only time or do you plan on taking them at regular intervals?” If the answer is yes, then ask why.
These are my top fives. Personally, I also like to recommend Chiropractors that are active in their community, their profession, who and stay up to date on information.
And there you have it. My top tips on how to choose a Chiropractor from someone in the industry. Next time you do a web search of Chiropractors in Portland, you’ll be armed with a little more than Yelp reviews.
As always, if you’d like to drop a line, a question, or request that I write on a topic, drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter. If you’re looking for some natural solutions to your body’s aches, pains, and injuries – make an appointment using our easy online scheduler! Until next time, Portland, remember to eat well and move often.
Yours in Health,