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Should I Get a Second Opinion about Chiropractic Care

Doctor/Patient ConsultationWhenever you’re faced with a medical decision, be it a major illness or chronic neck or back pain, seeking a second opinion from a professional may be a good idea. If you are suffering from neck or back pain and you are not sure about the answers you are getting, you should definitely consider getting a second opinion.

When you receive a medical diagnosis, it’s normal to have questions. Before you make choices about your healthcare, you should have as much information as possible about your specific condition and know exactly what your options are.

I have been practicing NUCCA Chiropractic in Chesapeake since 2002. I am board certified in NUCCA (National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association), which is a safe and painless, evidence-based approach to correct spinal problems. I am also a credentialed spinal care specialist.

I always encourage my patients to take an active role in their healthcare and to educate themselves about their condition and how to get better, which may mean seeking a second opinion from another spinal care specialist.

The more information you have from professional sources, the better. Test results from your examination and evaluation may indicate that chiropractic might not be the best answer for you. If so, I will discuss more appropriate forms of treatment for you to explore and what those options look like in terms of treatment, care, and management of your specific spinal condition.

Questions to Ask

Before seeking a second opinion, make sure you know what questions to ask and how to move forward in your quest for answers and to find the treatment that is best for your neck and back pain. Make a list of the credentialed spine care specialists in your area and know what questions to ask:

Apples to Apples

You probably wouldn’t go to a chiropractor for a second opinion if you had a bacterial infection. Most likely, you would see your internist or primary care doctor. If you were not satisfied with their explanations, you probably would see another doctor of internal medicine.

Likewise, if you have chronic neck or back pain and you are not sure about what you are hearing from your chiropractor, you should consult another credentialed spine care specialist.

In either case, if you choose to get a second opinion, make sure you are comparing health care providers who are similarly credentialed.

Get a Thorough Evaluation

A thorough evaluation and diagnosis by a credentialed spinal care doctor is the best way to find out whether or not chiropractic is a possibility for you. Depending upon your specific condition, certain chiropractic techniques may be okay.

Proper evaluation and diagnosis of the primary problem is imperative. Only treating symptoms will not take care of the problem. Failure to find and correct the problem will only lead to more spinal issues and pain.

A thorough orthopedic, neurological and biomechanical spine exam can help the doctor differentiate the cause of your pain.

Proper imaging may also reveal the most appropriate course of action. Before you move forward with any treatment plan, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis to see what exactly is causing your back pain.

Talk to Your Doctor about Your Evaluation

Patients are often hesitant to ask their doctor about getting a second opinion or afraid to tell their primary care doctor they are seeing a chiropractor, because they don’t want to offend their doctor. However, a doctor who is well trained in their field should be more than willing to offer alternatives and options to you… including getting a second opinion from a doctor who specializes in treating spinal issues.

You are an active participant in your health care! Talk to your spine care doctor about your evaluation. Make sure you understand the results. If you have questions about your evaluation or test results, you should ask your doctor if there are other specialists who might interpret the images and exam results differently.

If a doctor is skeptical about you seeking a second opinion, make sure you ask them the reasoning and basis for their opinion. Has the doctor looked at your images (x-rays or MRIs)? If so, what are their specific concerns? If the doctor does not give you solid reasoning or is not a spine care specialist, then a second opinion is probably a good idea.

An example would be a primary care doctor, who does not specialize in spine care, rejecting the idea of you seeing a chiropractor. What is the foundation of that opinion? Has the doctor reviewed your x-ray or MRI results? Has the doctor looked at your exam findings? Does the doctor know if the cause of your pain is mechanical or anatomical? If not, you probably should get an opinion from someone who specializes in spine care.

Treatment

A typical scenario for someone with neck or back pain is to visit the doctor during the inflammation phase (when the pain first starts). A doctor will typically perform a basic examination to make sure nothing is broken or severely damaged. Medication is often prescribed to help with the pain and inflammation.

If this initial treatment does not resolve your pain, you should probably find a more specialized spine care doctor who will typically examine you, take images, and come up with a treatment plan for the repair phase of healing. During the repair phase, the doctor will focus on the cause of your pain and should be able to give you a specific care plan for healing.

Patients may feel they are not seeing significant progress during the second phase of care. If you are wondering where you are in the recovery process, discuss reevaluation of your condition. Medicare deems it usual and customary for a spinal care doctor to reevaluate your condition approximately every 30 days. If after that time you are not feeling sufficient progress has been made, sit with your doctor and have a frank conversation about your condition.

Reevaluation

Like all areas of medicine these days, the science of diagnosing and treating neck and back pain is also evolving. Ask your doctor about new treatment techniques and options for continued care. If your care has plateaued, it might be time for you to seek a second opinion. Have an open conversation with your doctor about your care plan and if there other options for treatment.

Your doctor should be willing to discuss all your options with you. At Precision Spinal Care, I am more than willing to discuss all of your options at any point during your treatment. I also see lots of patients who are seeking second opinions. If after proper examination the evidence determines that chiropractic is not the best option for you, I will discuss all of your options with you and what each one looks like.

How Important Is a Second Opinion?

Getting a second opinion is extremely useful. Treatment and healing is a process. Everyone’s body is different. You need to have the peace of mind and confidence in your doctor to know that you are pursuing a path that is leading you to recovery. A second opinion can provide you with that much needed confidence.

When looking for a second opinion from a spine care doctor, make sure you talk to other spine care doctors. Ask them about their credentials and experience in their field. Ask them what their examinations and evaluations look like. They should also be able to discuss the various options available for your specific condition.

Remember, you are an active participant in your care, so make sure you:

  • Have a proper evaluation by a credentialed spinal care specialist.
  • Make sure the doctor reads images with you (x-rays, MRIs, etc.).
  • Get a proper reevaluation after approximately 30 days.
  • Evaluate the measurable outcomes, both subjective and objective, with your doctor.
  • If you feel you should get a second opinion, talk to your doctor and ask about your options and with whom you should speak.

At Precision Spinal Care, I will perform a thorough examination of you before any treatment is performed or prescribed. After a proper evaluation, I determine if chiropractic is a good option for you, and I will explain exactly what your personalized care plan would look like.

If it is determined that your neck or back pain is not mechanical, I will explain your condition and recommend the type of specialist who is most appropriate to help you. If at any time you feel you need reassurance from another spine care doctor, tell me and we can discuss the various doctors and treatments that are appropriate.

We understand that you need to explore all your options when you look for expert chiropractic care and we are happy to help you determine the best way to address your specific needs.

Call our office at 757-382-5555 to speak with me or set up a consultation. You can also set up an appointment through our webpage.

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