There are 1,071 chiropractors in Australia and 388 in New South Wales. With so many choices, how do you zero in on the right one for you?
Choosing a good chiropractor for back pain, neck pain, frozen shoulder, sciatica, and other musculoskeletal problems is not as easy as it sounds, but it does not have to be complicated either. A good chiropractor is vital in providing effective and safe treatment, contributing to overall well-being. With numerous chiropractors available, it is essential to consider certain factors before deciding. This post will outline five essential things to consider when selecting a chiropractor.
5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Chiropractor
1. Proper Credentials and Licensing
a. Educational Background
To stay out of the clutches of quacks and frauds, you must evaluate the educational qualifications of the practitioners you shortlist. Look for a chiropractor who has completed a reputed chiropractic programme from Macquarie, Murdoch, RMIT, or Central Queensland and obtained a degree to ensure they have the necessary knowledge and training in chiropractic care.
AHPRA recognises the validity of degree programmes accredited by Chiropractic Australia, such as:
- Master of Clinical Chiropractic
- Bachelor of Chiropractic Science
- Bachelor of Applied Science (Chiropractic)
If the practitioner has completed a chiropractic degree from an institution that is not accredited by Chiropractic Australia, the Chiropractic Board of Australia, upon assessment, can consider their qualification equivalent to an approved qualification.
The chiropractor you choose should be licensed and registered with AHPRA. Updated registration reflects a good chiropractor’s adherence to professional standards and ethical practice. Eligibility for registration as a chiropractor is incumbent upon these conditions:
- Clean background check
- Good command of English
- Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)
- 152 hours of practice in one year or 456 hours over three consecutive years
- Completion of at least 20 hours per year of Continued Professional Development
2. Experience and Specialisation
a. Years of Practice
Alongside recency of practice, consider the total number of years the chiropractor has worked. While experience alone does not guarantee quality care, it often indicates a chiropractor’s ability to handle different cases and adapt their treatment approaches effectively. An experienced chiropractor should be more likely to –
- Make accurate diagnoses and treatment plans
- Identify and manage complications
- Build rapport with you
- Teach and mentor their teams
Some chiropractors are versatile generalists, while others specialise in certain areas, such as –
- Sports injuries
- Auto accident injuries
- Prenatal care
- Paediatric chiropractic
If you have unique needs or requirements, finding a chiropractor with specialisation in those areas can be advantageous because you can benefit from their added expertise and personalised treatment options.
3. Approach to Treatment
a. Techniques Used
Different chiropractors may employ various techniques in their practice. It is essential to familiarise yourself with the techniques used by a chiropractor and determine if they align with your preferences and treatment goals. Common techniques include
- Manual adjustments
- Spinal decompression
- Soft tissue therapy
- Activator method
- Gonstead technique
- Webster technique
- Applied kinesiology
b. Holistic Approach
The right chiropractor will take a holistic approach to healthcare. This approach involves considering your overall well-being and incorporating lifestyle recommendations into the treatment plan. A chiropractor who emphasises preventive care and provides guidance on exercise, nutrition, and stress management is looking out for your long-term health.
4. Patient Reviews and Testimonials
a. Online Reviews
46% of consumers believe that online reviews about businesses and services are just as reliable as the recommendations they receive from their friends or family members, while 84% of healthcare businesses stated that online reviews are important to them. Reading reviews and testimonials from previous patients can provide valuable insights into a chiropractor’s reputation and patient satisfaction. Look for reviews on trusted platforms like Google Business and weigh positive and negative feedback to gain a balanced perspective.
b. Word of Mouth
Seek recommendations from family, friends, or healthcare professionals who have had positive experiences with chiropractor. Personal recommendations can often reliably indicate a chiropractor’s expertise, professionalism, and patient-centred approach.
5. Insurance Coverage and Affordability
a. Insurance Verification
Check if the chiropractor accepts your health insurance plan and if your required treatments are covered under your policy. This helps ensure you receive the necessary care without experiencing a significant financial burden.
In Australia, your insurance options include:
- Private health insurance. If registered with Medibank, Bupa, HCF, and other private insurance companies, you should enquire about company-specific chiropractic coverage policies.
- Medicare. You can claim insurance through Medicare for five bulk-billed chiropractic sessions annually. All five sessions must be with the same chiropractic centre for coverage to be approved, and your condition should be diagnosed as chronic.
- NDIS. The National Disability Insurance Scheme evaluates each case individually to determine if it will cover the costs of chiropractic services.
- DVA Health Card. Veterans are eligible for chiropractic service coverage from the Department of Veteran Affairs if they possess a Veteran Gold Card or a Veteran White Card.
b. Fee Structure
Enquire about the chiropractor’s fee structure, including consultation charges, treatment costs, and additional expenses. Understanding the financial aspects of chiropractic care allows you to assess affordability and make informed decisions regarding your healthcare budget.
A 2018 study uncovered that 254 out of 2,019 Australian respondents (12.6%) availed themselves of chiropractic services. This prevalence is unsurprising, considering that 16% of Australians grapple with back problems and 49% of office workers experience neck pain. These numbers highlight the growing recognition of chiropractic care as a valuable solution for addressing musculoskeletal issues. By carefully considering the factors discussed in this article, you can make informed choices and find a dedicated chiropractor who will guide you towards a healthier and pain-free future.