If you decide to consult a chiropractor, try to find one whose practice is limited to conservative treatment of musculoskeletal problems. Ask your family doctor for the names of chiropractors who fit this description and who appear to be competent and trustworthy. If your doctor cannot provide a name, ask other people and, if they recommend one, be sure to ask what conditions the chiropractor treats. If the chiropractor claims to treat infections or a wide range of other diseases, look elsewhere. But don't depend upon the Yellow Pages. You should avoid chiropractors who make extravagant claims or who advertise extensively.
When you have selected a chiropractor, go for a consultation or conduct a telephone interview to find out how he or she practices. If the chiropractor treats infants, offers spinal adjustments as a treatment for visceral disease or infection or as a method of preventing ill health, requires that every patient be x-rayed, or requires payments in advance for a long course of treatments, call another chiropractor.
Remember that diagnosis is critical to the establishment of proper treatment. Some chiropractors are competent in diagnosis, and some are not. For example, "straight" chiropractors who examine only the spine and who believe that "subluxated" vertebrae are the primary cause of illness may "analyze" the spine rather than offer a diagnosis. Such chiropractors may be unable to determine when chiropractic treatment should not be used. Since evaluating some chiropractors may be difficult, it might be wise to look for one who is willing to work with your family physician by exchanging office notes. This would offer the additional safeguard of assuring a second opinion.
Once you have found a rational chiropractor, you may find effective relief for some types of back and neck pain as well as for various other musculoskeletal problems. You may also benefit from the comforting effect of a hands-on treatment that provides a pleasurable way of relieving the aches and pains of everyday stress and strain. Physical therapists, osteopaths, and a few physicians also offer manipulative therapy. Chiropractors can sometimes be found working with these practitioners in back-pain clinics. As the benefits of spinal manipulation become better known as a result of scientific research, such treatment will become more available from physical therapists and other practitioners, as well as well as from properly limited chiropractors.