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When Should I Use Traditional Medical Care Versus Chiropractic Care?

Man smiling with a beanie onIf you are trying to decide between traditional medical care and chiropractic care, your choices can seem overwhelming. Although traditional medical care and chiropractic care may at first seem to be at odds with one another, they each have an important role to play in treatment. Some conditions may be more safely and effectively treated by chiropractic care, while you may need traditional medical care to overcome others.

As a licensed spine management physician and practicing chiropractor in Virginia for more than 20 years, I have extensive experience helping my patients decide on the best option to achieve their care goals. In this article, I will help you learn about when traditional medical care may be a more appropriate option than chiropractic treatment.

In addition, I have written a free ebook, Live Healthy and Thrive, which can help you understand the conditions for which chiropractic care and other whole health choices can benefit you.


What Spinal Conditions Need Traditional Medical Care?

Much scientific data exists about the benefits of chiropractic care in mechanical spine pain. Mechanical spine pain arises from the spine, intervertebral discs, or surrounding soft tissues like tendons and ligaments.

However, pain can also be caused by anatomical problems. If the source of your spinal problem is anatomical, like a tumor, fracture or severe herniated disc, you should avoid chiropractic care and consider traditional medical care. Other conditions in which chiropractic care might not be appropriate include:

  • At increased risk for stroke
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Fracture, broken, or dislocated bones in the spine
  • Bone tumors
  • Infection in the spine
  • Severe arthritis
  • Severely herniated disc or sequestered disc fragment
  • Signs of severe spinal cord compression or myelopathy
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control (cauda equina syndrome)
  • Aneurysm
  • Cancer in the spine
  • Other anatomical/pathological severe spine conditions
  • Neurological deficits such as motor weakness, abnormal reflexes, or sensory nerve deprivation
  • Pathological reflexes
  • Bone abnormalities in the upper neck
  • MRI with visible spinal cord or central canal compression
  • Surgical hardware in your spine
  • No clear diagnosis of a mechanical spine problem

Should I Tell My Traditional Medical Doctor I’m Thinking About Chiropractic Care?

It is important to make sure all of your health care team members are on the same page in regards to your spinal health. Although you do not need a referral from your PCP to seek chiropractic care, it’s important that your PCP and other medical team members know that you are seeing a chiropractor.

Steps to talking with your PCP about chiropractic include:

  1. Share your chiropractor’s credentials with your PCP: These should include their degree, how long they have been practicing as a chiropractor, and any specialty training like fellowships that they have received.
  2. Ask your chiropractor to print out your medical records to share with your PCP so that your PCP can understand the chiropractor’s diagnosis and treatment plan.
  3. Print out resources, such as common patient questions from our blog, to help guide you when talking to your PCP.

Involving your PCP in the process can also directly help your chiropractic care in several ways:

  • They can share medical records or reports with your chiropractor: Your PCP can share your medical records directly with your chiropractor. This can help the chiropractor make a full and accurate diagnosis about your medical condition and overall health. Further, your chiropractor can keep your PCP up to date on any changes in your spinal health.
  • They can share imaging results with your chiropractor: Your PCP likely keeps results from MRIs, CT scans and X-Rays in your medical records. These tests can help your chiropractor assess your spinal health and determine the best care plan for your needs. Further, sharing any existing records helps you avoid repeating tests that may not otherwise be needed.
  • Your chiropractor can provide referrals for other treatment options: Sometimes, your chiropractor may decide that chiropractic care is not the best choice for your spinal needs. If this occurs, your chiropractor can communicate directly with your PCP and can recommend other treatment options.

Deciding Between Traditional Medical Care or Chiropractic Care With Precision Spinal Care

At Precision Spinal Care, I am used to integrating your medical care with other healthcare providers, including PCPs and other spinal specialists. At your first visit, I will review any medical records and imaging that you or your doctor provide. Then, I will fully assess your condition with a thorough spine exam and a discussion about your medical problems.

After your exam at the first visit, we will discuss my evaluation. If chiropractic is not the best solution for your needs, I will recommend the type of specialist who is most appropriate for you.

If chiropractic care is the best way to meet your care goals, we will work together to develop a plan to meet your needs. I make sure to set reasonable expectations and milestones for your recovery. At regular intervals, I will reevaluate you to make sure you are meeting these goals and that chiropractic remains the best choice for you. With your permission, I will make sure to keep your PCP in the loop about any changes to your spinal health status.

We understand that you need to explore all your options when you look for expert chiropractic care. At Precision Spinal Care we are happy to help you determine the best way to address your specific needs. If we can help, we will. Call our office at (757) 382-5555 to speak to the doctor or set up a consultation. You can also set up an appointment through our webpage.

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