Image: Kari Perrin

When people think of going to the chiropractor, they usually think of lying on a table and hearing their bones pop and crack. While the popping and cracking does really happen, rest assured, adjustments are painless, and noises are an indicator that the treatment is working. The sound heard when the chiropractor is applying sudden pressure to the spine is air being released from between the vertebrae, allowing for a greater range of motion in your spinal cord. Dr. Michele Lamourt of Sarasota Physical Medicine says there are a variety of benefits to this alternative treatment.

"When you get adjusted, you begin to see improvement in your spine alignment and relief from back and neck pain," says Lamourt. "If the dynamic part of your spine isn't moving appropriately, it will affect your central nervous system, as well."

Lamourt says that when your spine is aligned, the nerves connected to your spinal cord are able to send signals to the body more efficiently, firing off at a much faster rate and providing support to the nerve endings in your major organs, including the gut, intestines and heart. This means chiropractic adjustments can also ease symptoms like headaches, neck aches, dizziness, stomach problems and other nerve-related issues.

Do adjustments hurt? Are they dangerous? Lamourt says adjustments should not hurt and are not dangerous if you are going to a qualified practitioner that you trust. Anyone can receive chiropractic adjustments; most of those who seek them out have tried other, more traditional, approaches without finding relief. Experts say you should speak with your primary doctor to see if you are a good candidate for an adjustment.

How often can you get adjusted? And how long does each treatment take? There is no limit to the amount of times you can get adjusted. Each visit takes about 20 minutes, besides the initial consultation. Once patients' immediate concerns have been handled, by receiving adjustments once or twice a week for several weeks, maintenance appointments can be arranged once a month, or as needed. Lamourt says patients should begin feeling relief from pain in four to six visits.

Are there side effects? "Like with many treatments, you are going to experience some side effects that are perfectly normal," says Lamourt. "People usually leave feeling tired, like they've just worked out, and may have slight muscle soreness a few days after."

According to the Mayo Clinic, complications can occur when receiving chiropractic treatment, although rare. Do your research prior to making an appointment, and find a licensed professional with extensive experience. Most chiropractic care is not covered by insurance, unless referred by a primary care physician or if considered a medical necessity. Medicare Part B covers a certain number of visits if they are deemed medically necessary to correct an issue.

Is chiropractic care right for you? "If you are looking in the direction of natural wellness, with limited medications and side effects, chiropractic care might be a great way to begin," says Lamourt.

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