Treatment of lower back pain is a proven benefit of chiropractic medicine. In certain cases, sufferers of lower back pain can experience relief after chiropractic treatment.
But just how much does a visit to the chiropractor cost?
The average cost of a chiropractic visit is $165, but this price varies considerably from practitioner to practitioner. Chiropractic treatment also receives limited coverage from many insurance plans in 2023, including Medicare
Ultimately, the cost of your treatment will depend on your condition and your chiropractor. Let’s take a look at what you might expect to pay for your visit to a chiropractor in 2023!
This article provides the facts you need to decide if chiropractic treatment is suitable for you!
How Much Does a Chiropractor Cost Without Insurance?
Without insurance, a visit to the chiropractor can cost anywhere from $30-$300.
Most chiropractors, however, tend to be priced somewhere in the $100-$150 range in 2023.
People registered for medicare may apply for subsidized chiropractic care. 80% of the ‘Medicare-Approved Amount’ can be covered (after you have paid your ‘Part B’ deductible) when visiting a chiropractor.
If you have private health insurance, that will often cover chiropractic care for short-term or acute conditions.
Keep in mind that some health plans will require a co-pay for your chiropractic treatments. Unfortunately, if you are visiting a chiropractor for wellness or maintenance sessions, you’ll probably have to pay out of pocket.
Whatever the case, it’s worth checking in with your insurance provider to see what they can assist you with. You can also check with various chiropractic clinics to see the costs for different treatment plans.
What is a Chiropractor?
Chiropractors practice a form of modern alternative medicine. It is the largest alternative medical profession in the US.
Chiropractic medicine concentrates on an assumed relationship between a person’s spine and their health.
Chiropractic adjustment was invented in 1895, by Daniel David Palmer. Palmer claims that — on that date — he cured the deafness of a janitor by simply adjusting his vertebrae.
Palmer imagined his chiropractic method as a modern incarnation of historical bone setting — infused with the popular mysticism of ‘Magnetic Healing’.
Magnetic Healing was a practice invented by Franz Anton Mesmer in the 18th century.
Mesmer initially believed that humans and animals were ruled by magnetic forces, then electricity, and, finally, by a ‘Universal Fluid’.
Mesmer treated his patients by magnetizing and adjusting the flow of their universal fluid. He accomplished this by squeezing his patients’ legs between his own, driving his thumbs into their hands, and maintaining eye contact.
Palmer was fascinated by this treatment, and so Mesmer’s theory of ‘Animal Magnetism’ formed the theoretical basis for Palmer’s chiropractic adjustments.
Palmer practiced magnetic healing for nine years before taking Mesmer’s idea of universal fluid and rebranding it as innate intelligence.
He decided that the spine was the home of innate intelligence. After his experience with the janitor, Palmer became convinced that spinal adjustment could cure almost all illness.
Modern chiropractors are often aware of how the theoretical underpinnings to their treatments sound, and many distance themselves from Palmer. Regardless, they practice the treatments that Palmer invented and pioneered.
Chiropractors may claim to treat many afflictions, but — beyond the treatment of back pain — their therapies have little in the way of scientific studies.
What Kind of Services Does a Chiropractor Offer?
Chiropractors offer a wide range of services and treatment modalities. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Spinal adjustment — hands-on and forceful manipulation of a spinal joint
- Mobilization — moving a joint or limb to encourage mobility
- Heating and cooling — to treat inflammation and encourage movement
- Stretching — to lengthen muscles and encourage flexibility
- Soft tissue manipulation — also known as massage
- Lifestyle advice — what to eat, how to exercise, etc.
- Physiologic therapeutics — using lasers, ultrasound machines, and more
- Orthotics — insoles used for postural adjustment
- The manipulation and treatment of all the body's joints
When to Seek Help From a Chiropractor
If you are suffering from back pain, a visit to a chiropractor may be beneficial to you. There's no need to wait for the pain to be unbearable before seeking an initial consultation.
As always, alternative medicine should be used in conjunction with — not instead of — scientifically supported healthcare approaches. For health problems other than back pain, it is best to seek non-chiropractic care.
How to Choose a Chiropractor That Is Right for You
Chiropractic therapy is not a single unified field of medicine, so it's not the easiest to say which chiropractic practice is right for you.
Many chiropractors have differing theoretical assumptions and corresponding medical practices. There are, however, two major schools of chiropractic therapy — ‘Straights’ and ‘Mixers’.
Whether you choose to see a straight chiropractor, or a mixer, is entirely up to you. Let's take a look at the main differences between the two schools of treatment.
What are Straights?
Straights are faithful to the methods and ideologies of Daniel David Palmer (the inventor of chiropractic treatment). Palmer claimed that “chiropractic was not evolved from medicine or any other method, except that of magnetic”.
According to Palmer, the magnetic is an ‘Innate Intelligence’ that flows through the human nervous system.
Palmer referred to a misaligned vertebrae as a ‘Subluxation’. Subluxation, according to straights, obstructs the flow of innate intelligence through the body, and is the root of most illnesses.
These theories have not been embraced by the medical community at large.
Due to their focus on innate intelligence and subluxation, straights generally disavow therapies that stray beyond spine and joint alignment.
What are Mixers?
Mixers tend to make far fewer claims in regard to the dangers of subluxation. For mixers, subluxation is one of many possible causes of ill health. Mixers have a general desire to align their practices with those of mainstream medicine.
Mixers commonly practice a range of therapies. These can include common physiotherapeutic treatments — such as applying heat or ice.
Additionally, many mixers will dabble in other alternative medical fields — such as acupuncture, or herbalism. They look to offer a more holistic and comprehensive treatment.
Chiropractor Cost FAQs
Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions posed by those considering chiropractic treatment.
What to Expect on the First Visit
Your chosen chiropractor will have you fill in some paperwork regarding your health history and reasons for your initial visit. This will be followed by an examination and diagnosis.
Finally, your chiropractor will perform a quick manual adjustment of your spine (spinal decompression) and then recommend a course of subsequent treatment.
How Long Does a Chiropractic Visit Take?
A chiropractic visit will vary depending on whether it’s an initial visitor or follow-up visits.
For the first chripractic appoint, budget a good hour. There’s a lot to cover here. The chiropractor needs to understand your health history and why you’re in their office. Physical examinations and maybe even imaging tests are needed to understand the problems you’re having.
For follow-up visits, you’re looking at smaller time commitments, usually around 15 to 30 minutes. The treatment plan is already in place, so each session is about execution and not exploration, looking for the root of your problems.
Still, every chiropractor has their own unique approach, so these time estimates will vary. But as a rough guide, it’ll help you to plan the rest of your day.
Why Does My Insurance Not Cover Chiropractic Treatments?
Insurance coverage depends on the level of coverage you are paying for. Insurance companies tend to only subsidize treatments that have scientifically proven medical efficacy.
Insurance providers may cover chiropractic for acute back pain (where it has proven benefits), but not for any other maladies. You'll need to check your insurance policies to see if chiropractic treatment
What Are Some Ways to Reduce the Cost of Chiropractic Adjustments?
Medicare can help with reducing the cost of chiropractic adjustments for sudden and severe back and neck pain.
Many private insurance providers will also fund Chiropractic treatment under the same conditions.
If you can’t afford chiropractic adjustments, your doctor will be able to recommend subsidized or more affordable courses of pain relief treatment.
What Are the Benefits of Going to a Chiropractor?
Chiropractors have some success in the treatment of back pain. Receiving chiropractic adjustments may allow you to avoid the use of addictive pain medications.
Many chiropractors also offer acupuncture and other holistic treatments.
What Are the Risks and Side Effects of Chiropractic Adjustments?
Studies show that “mild-to-moderate, transient adverse effects are experienced by about half of all chiropractic patients”.
Among adult patients, these adverse effects include:
- Local or radiating pain
More severe effects have also been noted, such as:
- Vascular complications
Among children, the following adverse effects have been recorded:
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage
Paraplegia, hemorrhaging, death, and severe vascular complications are uncommon side effects of chiropractic treatment. However, the causative relationship between these incidents and chiropractic adjustments has only been revealed by systematic reviews and limited doctor surveys.
These surveys and systematic reviews reveal the rate of underreporting adverse chiropractic side effects was previously 100%.
Due to historical underreporting, it’s hard to say what the true rates and severity of adverse chiropractic side effects are.