Frequently Asked Questions

We receive many questions about chiropractic. Below are answers to the most commonly asked questions. If your question is not answered below please feel free to contact us.



Chiropractic Questions

What is chiropractic? - Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts based upon the understanding that good health depends, in part, upon a normally functioning nervous system (especially the spine, and the nerves extending from the spine to all parts of the body). Chiropractic is based on the scientific fact that your body is a self-regulating, self-healing organism. These important functions are controlled by the brain, spinal cord, and all the nerves of the body. "Chiropractic" comes from the Greek word chiropraktikos, meaning "effective treatment by hand." Chiropractic stresses the idea that the cause of many disease processes begins with the body's inability to adapt to its environment. It looks to address these diseases not by the use of drugs and chemicals, but by locating and adjusting a musculoskeletal area of the body, which is functioning improperly.

Why chiropractic? - Quality chiropractic care is an integral part of any wellness program -- an important tool in maintaining good health.
A chiropractic physician's goal is to make your spine healthy and keep it that way. This is accomplished through chiropractic adjustment -- a gentle, painless, low force technique unique to chiropractic physicians. Holistic chiropractic care has proven to be a safe, natural, drug-free way to good health for millions of people around the world. It is the fastest growing health care system today and for good reason -- it gets results.

How does chiropractic work? - Chiropractic works by restoring your own inborn ability to be healthy. When under the proper control of your nervous system, all the cells, tissues, and organs of your body are designed to resists disease and ill health. The chiropractic approach to better health is to locate and help remove interferences to your natural state of being healthy.
A common interference to the nervous system is the 24 moving bones of the spinal column. A loss of normal motion or position (called a subluxation) of these bones can irritate or impair the function of the nervous system. This can disrupt the transmission of controlling nerve impulses.
With improved spinal function there is often improved nervous system function. Your chiropractic doctor can help remove interferences that may be impairing normal health.
Since the primary focus of your care is improved nervous system function, chiropractic can have a positive effect on many health conditions not normally thought of as back problems.

How can chiropractic help me? - Injury, stress or chronic pain most often are the reasons people seek chiropractic care. Because chiropractic treats the underlying causes of these problems rather than just relieving symptoms, your body's natural healing processes work for you. The chiropractic approach to better health is to locate and help correct interferences to your body's natural state of good health.
Today's Doctor of Chiropractic is highly trained in identifying and evaluating functional problems associated with the spinal column and skilled in restoring proper spinal biomechanics and nerve function. With a program of regular spinal maintenance, many patients recover a degree of health and vigor greater than they enjoyed before their problem occurred.

Is chiropractic care safe? - Chiropractic has an excellent safety record. While it is not unusual to hear of injuries from mis-prescribed drugs, drug overdoses, drug combinations and erroneous treatments in the medical profession, it is extremely rare to hear of a problem resulting from chiropractic care. According to a government study in New Zealand, chiropractic care was found to be "remarkably safe."
Chiropractic treatments are safe because we only use natural and noninvasive methods of care. Research consistently shows that care from chiropractors is among the safest care available and is literally light years ahead of traditional medical care in terms of "safeness".


Chiropractic is among the safest of the healing arts. As proof, one merely has to compare malpractice rates between chiropractors and other health professionals. Chiropractors' malpractice premiums are a small fraction of those for medical doctors, especially orthopedists and surgeons.

How long will I need chiropractic care - Each patient is unique. Long-standing or neglected problems may require ongoing care to restore and maintain good spinal health. The truth is you wouldn't expect just one of the twenty pills of any prescription to produce a cure, so you shouldn't expect only one adjustment to do that either. Healing takes time. While some patients seek chiropractic care only when pain is unbearable, this "crisis" approach is often time- consuming, costly and uncomfortable. Most patients find that the best results come from a regular individual care program and periodic chiropractic checkups. Discuss your expectations for care with your doctor and ask questions about how you can achieve optimum spinal health. How long you decide to benefit from chiropractic care is always up to you.

What do chiropractic doctors do? - Helping to restore proper spinal biomechanics and improved nervous system function begins with a case history. This gives the doctor a background about your health, such as surgeries, accidents, the onset of your condition, and other details affecting your current health. After reviewing your history and discussing your specific problem, a thorough orthopedic, neurological, and chiropractic examination is performed. X-rays may be taken to uncover structural and functional problems associated with the spinal column. These examinations help identify areas of spinal malfunction and resulting nervous system deficit. The findings of these examinations are explained and a plan of chiropractic adjustments may be recommended. Progress is monitored with periodic examinations and follow-up reports. Since the word "doctor" comes from the Latin word-meaning teacher, regardless of your doctor's unique clinical approach, he or she has a strong commitment to patient education.

What kind of education and training do doctors of chiropractic have? - Chiropractic education centers on the concept of patients' health, not disease. Doctors of chiropractic (D.C.s) are concerned with the patient's entire ecology - which may include occupational stress, rest, exercise and nutrition.

Do chiropractors have medical (M.D.) degrees? - Chiropractors have Doctor of chiropractic (D.C.) degrees granted from chiropractic colleges. Chiropractic education and medical education are similar in some respects and different in others because chiropractors do not prescribe drugs and medical doctors do not correct the vertebral subluxation complex.

Do chiropractors work in hospitals? - Today chiropractors have privileges in many hospitals. Ideally, doctors of chiropractic would go through every ward and check all patients' spines; after all, who needs healthy spines more than people facing life-threatening diseases? The presence of D.C.'s in hospitals is a welcome beginning, hopefully paving the way toward making drugless, natural methods of chiropractic care available to all hospital patients.



Subluxations, The Problem

What is subluxation? - If you are a chiropractic patient, you have likely heard the word subluxation mentioned. The subluxation is an important element of chiropractic theory and practice. But what does it mean? Actually, the definition of the word has evolved as it has received attention and investigation by the chiropractic profession, and it differs from the medical definition of the term. A consensus by chiropractic colleges, having status with accrediting agencies recognized by the US Department of Education, leads to the following definition: A subluxation is a complex of functional and/or structural and/or pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health.

What the above means is that a subluxation is a joint problem (whether a problem with the way the joint is functioning, a physical problem with the joint, a disease of the joint, or a combination of any of these) that affects the function of nerves and can therefore affect the body's organs and general health. Your spine is a column of bones (vertebrae), cushioned by spinal discs, that are moved and supported by muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Built into these bones are openings top to bottom and through each side. Through these openings pass most of the body's nerves from the brain. These nerves pass out from the spine on each side to all of the body's tissues and organs. The subluxation theory identifies that a problem in the joints of the spines is able to affect the nerves that exit that point in the spine, thereby affecting the tissue or organ to which that nerve goes. Chiropractors believe that if joints function properly, nerves will function properly, and the body will be better able to keep itself healthy.

How do you get subluxations? - There are three basic causes of subluxations. Physical causes could include slips and falls, accidents, repetitive motions and improper lifting. Emotions, such as grief, anger and fear can cause subluxations. Chemical causes could include alcohol, drugs, pollution and poor diet.

How do I know if I have a subluxation? - You can have subluxations and not even know it. Like the early stages of tooth decay or cancer, subluxations can be present before warning signs appear. The results of a thorough examination can show the location and severity of subluxations you may have.

How is a subluxation detected? - A subluxation is usually suspected and located through palpation by the Doctor of Chiropractic. This process involves very skilled, hands-on evaluation of the spinal and other joints. During this examination, the chiropractor is looking for any abnormalities in the joints (either too much or too little movement), unusual movement patterns, movement that causes pain, and other clues that indicate a joint problem. Unless there is an observable change in the spinal alignment, abnormal movement that may be associated with a subluxation may not be detected by diagnostic imaging (X-rays, MRIs, etc.) If you have been in an accident or have sustained some other traumatic injury, diagnostic imaging may be needed.

Can subluxations clear up on their own? - Sometimes. Today's hectic lifestyles are a constant source of subluxations. Fortunately, our bodies have the ability to self-correct many of these problems as we bend and stretch, or when we sleep at night. But, you don't know when subluxations resolve, that determination will be made when you see a chiropractic doctor!

Can I tell if I have a subluxation without consulting a chiropractor? - Not always. A subluxation is like a dental cavity- you may have it for a long time before symptoms appear. That's why periodic spinal checkups are so important. Although it may be possible to know you have a subluxation, it is rarely possible to be sure you do not. An occasional spinal checkup is always a good idea.

What is the treatment of a subluxation? - Chiropractic treatment of a subluxation involves an adjustment. There are many techniques for adjusting, all of which are precise and designed with a specific purpose. Adjustments are usually performed manually, though techniques that involve a hand-held instrument may also be used. Adjustments should never be performed by an unqualified person. In some instances, adjustments are NOT the recommended method of treatment, and only a thorough examination by a professional who is skilled in palpation, adjusting, and physical diagnosis should lead to that conclusion.

Do chiropractors treat conditions other than back pain? - Chiropractors provide effective treatment for all types of soft tissue disorders and not just back and neck ailments. This includes conditions of the joints of the extremities like the ankle, knee and shoulder. What you may not be aware of is chiropractic's success in treating a number of non-soft tissue conditions like dysmenorrhea (painful menses), ulcers, migraine headaches, and ear infections in children. While we cannot claim to cure these conditions, we believe that many of these problems can be mimicked, aggravated and some times caused by disruptions in the nervous system as a result of spinal abnormalities. By correcting these spinal abnormalities like the vertebral subluxation, chiropractic has helped thousands of individuals overcome these conditions and regain control of their lives. A number of studies have also supported these findings. In one such study, spinal manipulative therapy was compared with standard medical treatments in the treatment of duodenal ulcers. The researchers Pikalov, MD, and Kharin, MD, found those subjects receiving spinal manipulations took an average of 16 days to heal vs. 26 days to heal in the standard medical treatment group.



Adjustments, The Solution

What is an adjustment? - When performing an adjustment your doctor applies precisely directed force to a joint that is "locked up" or not moving properly. Restoring normal motion to joints can allow bones to gradually return to a more proper position and your body to function as it should. This safe, natural approach to removing interferences with spinal and nervous system function can improve your overall health.
This is not to say, however, that all adjustments are the same. Just as chiropractors are different individually, so are the many techniques. Usually the doctor's hands or a specially designed instrument deliver a quick, therapeutic thrust to the affected joint. Other techniques however may require slow, constant pressure. Based upon years of training and experience, and careful evaluation of your unique spinal problem, the doctor will recommend an individual program of care.
After years of training and clinical experience, each chiropractic doctor becomes highly skilled in the delivery of a variety of adjusting approaches.

What do spinal adjustments do? - Adjusting helps correct vertebral subluxations. Correcting subluxations reduces pain and inflammation, reduces muscle spasm and tension, normalizes spinal biomechanics and more importantly, can remove nerve irritation and interference, which can improve overall health and wellness of the individual. Chiropractic adjustments are the only way to eliminate vertebral subluxations and only the chiropractor is trained to detect subluxations and deliver the chiropractic spinal adjustment to correct subluxations.

How does the adjustment work? - To illustrate this principle, imagine a garden hose as a nerve and the water flowing through the hose as nerve impulses. When the hose is laid out straight without any kinks, water flows freely. If on the other hand the hose gets compressed or kinked, water flow is reduced or even stops. If this condition persists, eventually, the hose becomes damaged. Like removing the kink from a hose, a spinal adjustment can ease pressure on a nerve, allowing nerve impulses to flow and protect the nerve from further damage. Cavitation, a pop or a click sound, is often heard or felt by the patient during the adjustment. Much like the opening of a carbonated soda can, cavitation is caused by a rapid release of air bubbles that have been under pressure within the joint. Cavitation occurs more often than not during an adjustment, but it does not have to occur for the adjustment to be effective.

Are chiropractic adjustments safe? - Yes. A New Zealand government study found that adjustments are "remarkably safe." By avoiding drugs and risky surgery, chiropractic care enjoys an excellent track record. A thorough exam can identify the rare person for whom chiropractic care might be unsuited. Compare the statistics. Adjustments are safer than taking an over-the- counter pain reliever.

When should spinal adjustments be given? - Spinal adjustments are applied to certain vertebrae of the spine which are no longer in their proper position or where functioning has become impaired. Vertebrae, which lose their normal position or proper motion, are commonly termed vertebral subluxations. The chiropractor uses a number of unique tests and procedures to determine which, if any, vertebrae are subluxated. If subluxations are found, immediate correction is generally indicated. Since like cavities subluxations are not always painful during the initial stages, even those who are not experiencing back or neck discomfort should receive periodic spinal checkups.

How often should I get a spinal adjustment? - The answer is "As soon as you develop subluxations." But since subluxations are often painless, it's good to get your spine checked periodically, as you get your teeth checked periodically for "painless" cavities.

Will adjustments make my spine too loose? - No. Only the spinal joints that are "locked up" receive adjustments. This allows weakened muscles and ligaments to stabilize and heal.

Can the bones move too much? - Highly unlikely. A chiropractic adjustment is special. It has the right amount of energy, delivered to an exact spot, at a precise angle, at just the right time. The intent is to get a "stuck" spinal joint moving again, helping reduce nerve interference. Years of training, practice and experience make chiropractic adjustments specific and safe.

What makes the sound during an adjustment? - Lubricating fluids separate the bones of each spinal joint. Some adjusting methods can produce a sound when the gas and fluids in the joint shift. It is much like opening a bottle of champagne or removing a suction cup. The sound is interesting, but is not a guide to the quality or value of the adjustment. Actually, not all adjusting techniques produce the sound associated with "popping knuckles." Some create no sound at all, some a little. Many techniques, however, do create the sound of a spinal "release." What causes it? The mystery may have been solved by a British research team that took x-ray movies of people popping" their knuckles. The sound appeared to be caused by gas rushing in to fill the partial vacuum created when the joints were slightly separated.

Are all patients adjusted the same way? - No. Each patient's spine and care plan is unique. With 24 moving bones in the spine (that can each move in seven different directions!) we see a wide variety of spinal patterns. Each patient's care is custom tailored for their age, condition and health goals. The doctor evaluates each patient's unique spinal problem and develops an individual course of care. The resulting recommendations are based on years of training and experience. Some patients who complain of headaches, may actually have a lower back problem that is causing a compensation reaction at the base of the skull. Other patients may be experiencing numbness and tingling in their fingers, when the actual problem is in the neck. Every patient presents a uniquely different spinal pattern. Patients notice that their chiropractic care is delivered with confidence and precision. Each visit builds on the one before. And while visits may seem similar, each patient's care is uniquely different from every other patient.

Can I adjust myself? - No. It is virtually impossible to adjust oneself, since a chiropractic adjustment is a specific force, applied in a specific direction.
It is possible to turn or bend or twist in certain ways to create a "popping" sound, like the sound that sometimes accompanies a chiropractic adjustment. Unfortunately, this type of joint manipulation is usually counterproductive, often making an already unstable area of the spine even more unsteady. Adjusting the spine is not for amateurs! The best way to enjoy the healthful benefits of chiropractic is to receive adjustments from a Doctor of Chiropractic. Even your doctor must consult with another colleague to help restore and maintain proper spinal function.

How many adjustments will I need? - The number of adjustments varies with each patient and their individual health goals. Many patients sense progress within a week or two of frequent visits. Visits become less often as your spine stabilizes. In chronic cases, complete healing can take months or even years.

Can spines automatically go back into place? - Yes. There are verified instances of blind people recovering eyesight after a fall, of individuals able to walk again after their wheelchair was thrown and of amnesiacs who remember their past after receiving a trauma - these are examples of "accidental adjustments". A visit to the chiropractor is a lot safer. Also, many types of therapy, including massage and various body work, can reduce musculoskeletal stress, sometimes permitting the spine to automatically realign, as will a cathartic emotional release.

Why do newborns get adjustments? - Even today's "natural" childbirth methods can affect an infant's spine. Preliminary studies suggested that colic, unusual crying, poor appetite, ear infections or erratic sleeping habits can be signs of spinal distress. Pediatric adjustments are gentle. Knowing exactly where to adjust, the doctor applies no more pressure than you'd use to test the ripeness of a tomato.

What can I expect after an adjustment? - What you can expect from your adjustment is a feeling of peace and relaxation that can last from a day to a week. Patients often comment that they experience a better night's sleep and increased energy. It's common to hear that they went home and tackled that project they've been putting off for months. Some patients report that their symptoms start to go away after the first adjustment, while others don't feel any immediate difference. If you don't feel a change, don't be discouraged. Often you are not aware of internal improvements. Some patients may feel discomfort after their first adjustment, ranging from a headache to just general fatigue. In almost every case, this feeling goes away within the next couple adjustments. This discomfort is often due to a detoxification of the body after adjustments. As poisons leave the system, they could create a headache or slight head cold, even a slight fever and a feeling of lethargy. These symptoms of detoxification generally last no more than a day or two, and then you should see steady improvement. The doctor will inform you if you need to ice or apply heat to certain areas.

How often should I get a spinal adjustment? - "As soon as you develop subluxations" is the right answer. But, because you don't know when this occurs, it's good to get your spine checked periodically, just as you get your teeth checked for "painless" cavities on a regular basis!

Is it bad to crack your neck or back a lot? - The desire to pop the neck or back is caused by tension from a jammed or fixated vertebra, which causes another part of the spine to compensate by moving too much and "popping" a lot. The jammed part should be adjusted by a chiropractor so that the rest of the spinal column will balance and stop being so movable and noisy.

Is there a way I can speed the healing process? - The body's natural healing ability can't be hurried. However, there are several things you can do to give yourself the best chance for a speedy recovery. Your doctor will teach you proper sitting and lifting postures. Specific exercises to strengthen and retrain the muscles supporting your spine also may be recommended. While you are healing, get as much rest as your body needs, but avoid sleeping on your stomach. Eat healthy balanced diet. If you are overweight, this is the best time to reduce stress to your spine by taking off extra pounds. Perhaps, most important of all, keep your appointments and follow your chiropractic doctor's recommendations for optimum results.

What Type of Treatment Technique Does Kerkhoff Chiropractic Use? - Kerkhoff Chiropractic specializes in advanced treatment techniques; namely, Gonstead Diversified. In addition, Kerkhoff Chiropractic utilizes physical therapy modalities such as interferential muscle stimulation, cold, massage and extension tractions. Click here to get more information on the Gonstead technique.

Do I have to keep coming back for treatments? - You may have heard the notion that once you go to a chiropractor you have to keep going back. Before we answer that question, ask yourself how many times you have visited a dentist? Like most people, you've probably gone dozens of times. Why? Quite simply, to prevent your teeth from literally rotting out of your head.
Once we have eliminated your pain and rehabilitated the injured tissues we do recommend that you maintain a schedule of periodic spinal checkups. Like your dentist and like many of the medical experts are now recognizing, prevention is the key to reducing recurrences of existing health conditions and minimizing new injuries in the future.
So the answer is yes, we want you to keep coming back, but just periodically. Periodic chiropractic care minimizes spinal and nerve stresses, reduces recurrences of old injuries, prevents new injuries from developing, minimizes degenerative processes, which enhances overall health and wellness.

Does chiropractic adjustment hurt? - Under normal circumstances, adjustments don't hurt. The patient may experience a minor amount of discomfort during the adjustment, which lasts only seconds.

Have any studies been published showing what chiropractic is effective for? - Several studies have documented the effectiveness of chiropractic in relieving back pain. More recent studies have shown chiropractic to be effective in treating infantile colic and migraine headaches.

What conditions benefit from chiropractic adjustments? - Although chiropractic is used most frequently to relieve low back pain, studies have found it to be effective for a variety of conditions, such as migraine headaches, neck and shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia.
Chiropractic has helped millions of people worldwide suffering from all types of problems and not just back and neck ailments. Chiropractic works with the spinal column and it's intimate relationship with the nervous system - the major controller of all bodily functions. By optimizing spinal column structure and biomechanics, irritation and stress are removed and health can once again be achieved.
You may be surprised to learn that research studies have provided scientific evidence showing chiropractic care is not only effective in the treatment of back and neck ailments, but can also provide effective relief with children suffering from ear infections, women suffering from dysmenorrhea (painful menses), and a number of other seemingly "non-spinal" conditions. While it's not prudent to guarantee relief from such conditions or claim to "treat" these conditions, chiropractic has successfully helped millions of individuals with all sorts of health conditions by positively affecting the nervous system.

How long until I feel better? - Some patients experience almost instant relief. Others discover it can take many weeks or months. Many factors can affect the healing process. How long have you had your problem? Are you keeping your appointments? Are you getting the proper rest, exercise and nutrition? Do you smoke? Are you in otherwise good condition? Within a short period of time most patients sense enough progress to fully complete their doctor's recommendations.

Will I receive any medication for my pain? - No. Chiropractic doctors do not dispense drugs. Because we rely on natural methods, we can show you how to use ice to control painful symptoms. When properly applied, ice can have an analgesic effect without the side effects of pain medications.

Will I ever be normal again? - Patient results vary. Many report improved spinal curves and the total resumption of their life. Those who have neglected or delayed seeking care often see slower progress. After improvement, many patients discover that periodic chiropractic checkups can help avoid a relapse.

Can I go only once? - Of course. Once is better than never. But chiropractic can help you in so many ways. Why not ask your chiropractor about your personal spinal care needs.

What will happen if I stop going? - Spine and nerve stress will continue to build up as before, but it won't be reduced or eliminated. If the stress is not relieved, your body and overall health will suffer.

What is maintenance care? - Regular chiropractic check ups are as important as regular dental check ups for wellness. You should have them even if you feel well because they help prevent future problems and help to maintain your good health. Kerkhoff Chiropractic's recommendations for your care are the same as those they would make for members of their own families under the same circumstances. We want you to remain well!

How long will it take? - While treatment lengths vary somewhat from person to person and from condition to condition, there are a few rules of thumb you can follow. The only sure way to determine how long your treatment will take is to schedule a consultation and/or examination. For those of you who believe in just waiting for the problem to "go away" on it's own - understand that the longer your condition has been around, the more treatments it will eventually require to resolve

What are the stages of care? - The typical patient will encounter 3 stages of care. The first stage focuses on symptomatic relief such as reduction of pain and other discomforts. The second stage addresses tissue healing and function normalization. The third and final stage consists of periodic spinal care to prevent the formation of new injuries, minimize future flare-ups of old injuries, and prevent degenerative spinal processes from occurring. 1st stage of care = Relief Relief care is the first stage of care for most patients. The primary goal during this initial stage is to provide the individual with symptomatic relief. Treatments focus on those techniques and therapies, which most quickly and effectively reduce pain and other discomforts. This will allow the majority of individuals to continue their activities of daily living. Patients are generally recommended to "take it easy" but are encouraged to stay mobile and functional so long as there is not a risk of further injury or tissue damage. Therapies that reduce inflammation and muscle spasm are also used during this stage when present. 2nd stage of care = correction of the problem(s) The second stage of care consists of correcting the problems which caused and contributed to the condition and healing and rehabilitating the injured tissues. Unless these events take place, a favorable outcome is unlikely and future recurrences of the problem are likely. It is extremely important that the patient comply with and follow the instructions given by the doctor during this stage of care. Tissues and structures that are not fully healed and rehabilitated are prone to future problems. Sticking to appointments, complying with home exercises and instructions and following all other recommendations will help insure this occurs. Patients should also be aware that once pain and discomfort have subsided, tissue healing and functional correction is many times still incomplete and will often require additional treatments. 3rd stage of care = periodic maintenance Once the spinal tissues are healed and spinal biomechanics have normalized the patient will be recommended to continue with periodic spinal checkups. For some this might mean once per year, for others this may mean once per month or more. Chiropractic spinal checkups provide similar benefits to the spine that dental checkups provide to the teeth. Namely, catching minor problems and disturbances before they have the opportunity to cause pain, discomfort and irreversible tissue changes. Just like with cavities and heart attacks, irreversible tissue damage has generally occurred before the symptoms of spinal pain and discomfort become apparent.



Common Misconceptions

Is chiropractic care similar to massage? - No. Chiropractic deals with the spinal column, nervous system, meninges and body structure. Massage therapists deal with muscle tension, circulation and body fluid drainage.

Why don't medical practitioners and chiropractic doctors get along? - That is changing. Years of prejudice and bias are giving way to research showing the benefits of chiropractic care. Attitudes are slow to change. However, as the public demands alternatives to drugs and surgery, more and more medical practitioners are referring their patients to our office.

Do chiropractors believe in medicine and surgery? - Certainly, as Norman Cousins says: "There are times when intervention in the form of medicine or surgery is absolutely necessary but there is never a time when the nourishment one puts into one's body or one's mind is not essential to health." Chiropractors would add spinal care to Mr. Cousins' observation.

What about X-rays and are they safe? - Based on the nature of your condition as well as a number of other factors, x-ray studies of your spine or injured body part may be indicated. Doctors of chiropractic receive over 300 hours of x-ray studies in college prior to graduating and thus are fully trained to take radiographs and identify subtle abnormalities of the spine as well as more serious pathologies.
X-rays are a relatively safe and cost effective way to view the structure and general condition of the spine. While prolonged exposure to radiation can be potentially harmful to the human body, the diagnostic x-rays utilized by the chiropractic doctor pose a minimal health risk. In fact, according to radiation guidelines for diagnostic x-ray studies, it would take more than 300 full spine x-rays performed by a chiropractor for these guidelines to be met. Only necessary x-ray views will be taken eliminating unnecessary x-ray exposure, a shielding & filtration device will be used to block or reduce the x-ray beam from affecting sensitive tissues and areas of non-diagnostic interest, and the use of high speed film lowers exposure time by up to 1/12th compared to "hospital" x-rays. 1988 Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors - Plaugher G. Textbook of Clinical Chiropractic: A Specific Biomechanical Approach. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1993.

I'm not sick, should I see a chiropractor? - Yes. Symptoms are not a good way to judge health. They sometimes surface after years of body malfunction.

Is chiropractic care addictive? - It is possible to get used to feeling more balanced, less stressed and more energetic as a result of periodic chiropractic care. You may become more sensitive to your body and know when you have lost your adjustment.

I have heard that once I start chiropractic care, I'll have to continue with it for the rest of my life. Is this true? - You may have heard the notion that once you go to a chiropractor you have to keep going back. Before we answer that question, ask yourself how many times you have visited a dentist? Like most people, you've probably gone dozens of times. Why? Quite simply, to prevent your teeth from literally rotting out of your head. Once we have eliminated your pain and rehabilitated the injured tissues we do recommend that you maintain a schedule of periodic spinal checkups. Like your dentist and like many of the medical experts are now recognizing, prevention is the key to reducing recurrences of existing health conditions and minimizing new injuries in the future.
So the answer is yes, we want you to keep coming back, but just periodically. Periodic chiropractic care minimizes spinal and nerve stresses, reduces recurrences of old injuries, prevents new injuries from developing, minimizes degenerative processes, which enhances overall health and wellness.

Isn't it true that some chiropractic treatments have a significant risk associated with them? - While there is a certain degree of risk associated with any procedure or treatment, chiropractic care is provided under the premise of "Above All Else, Do No Harm." In fact, chiropractic treatments are among some of the safest treatments used in the health care field for individuals of all ages - from birth to those into their hundreds. According to Practice Guidelines released by the US Department of Health and Human Services, the risk of serious complications from spinal manipulation is rare. These guidelines also state that conservative treatments such as spinal manipulation should be pursued in most cases before considering surgical intervention. According to Pran Manga, Ph.D., the lead researcher for some major studies commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of Health, "Chiropractic manipulation is safer than medical management of low back pain. Chiropractic management is greatly superior to medical management in terms of scientific validity, safety, cost-effectiveness and patient satisfaction."

What if chiropractic doesn't work? - If we are unable to find and correct the cause of your particular health problem, we will refer to other specialists who may be able to help. Your health is our only goal.



Patient Concerns

Can I go to chiropractor if I am under medical care? - Yes. Having your subluxations corrected is important, no matter what other type of health care you are receiving. Today many Doctors of Chiropractic and Medical Doctors are working together in clinics and on joint research projects. MD's are quite likely to have patients who are under chiropractic care; in fact many medical doctors see a doctor of chiropractic themselves.

Can a person with a broken back or neck see a chiropractor? - After the break heals, yes. In fact, a broken bone forms a callus or bone scar when it heals that is stronger than the rest of the bone. This should dispel any concerns about the safety of an adjustment. People who have had broken bones need chiropractic checkups because accidents usually cause spinal subluxations.

Can chiropractic care prevent back surgery? - In a majority of cases the answer is Yes.

Can patients with osteoporosis get chiropractic care? - Of course. When developing a care plan, your chiropractic doctor considers the unique circumstances of each patient. There are many ways to adjust the spine. The method selected will be best suited to your age, size and health.

Can chiropractic care really help with headaches? - Roughly 85% of headaches are neck-related, resulting from not having the proper curve in the neck (commonly caused by sitting and holding our neck too high or low, or through injuries). Chiropractic care helps remove subluxations and restore the neck's natural curve - a much more natural way to relieve headaches than taking medications!

Am I too old for chiropractic care? - More and more people are consulting chiropractic doctors, especially in their later years. With growing concerns about over-medication and the side effects of combining various prescription drugs, safe, natural chiropractic care is growing in popularity.
Restoring better spinal function can help improve mobility, vitality, endurance, and appetite. Many patients report improvement with arthritic symptoms and other chronic ailments often associated with the aging process. As we get older and wiser, the simplicity and effectiveness of chiropractic care becomes more and more obvious.

What ages benefit from chiropractic care? - All ages can enjoy healthier living through chiropractic care. For seniors, improved spinal function can mean better mobility, endurance, appetite, and an improvement in many age-related ailments. Children and even infants also can benefit. Because spinal trauma can occur at birth and later childhood activities also may cause spinal problems, most parents prefer to have their children checked regularly. When the body is changing through growth or through aging, maintaining good spinal and nervous system health is especially important.
Newborns have received spinal adjustments especially after difficult or traumatic births. There are case histories of infants close to death who were adjusted in hospitals with seemingly miraculous recoveries

Why do children need chiropractic care? - Since significant spinal trauma can occur at birth, many parents have their newborns checked for the Vertebral Subluxation Complex.
Later, learning to walk, ride a bicycle, and other childhood activities can cause spinal problems. While a bandage and some comforting words can help a skinned knee, the unseen damage to the child's spine is the unique domain of a chiropractic doctor.
Many childhood health complaints that are brushed off as "growing pains" can often be traced to the spine. Regular chiropractic checkups can identify these problems and help avoid many of the health complaints seen later in adults.
Naturally, chiropractic adjusting procedures are modified to a child's spine. Most parents repot that their children enjoy their chiropractic adjustments and seem healthier than other children.

Can a person who had back surgery see a chiropractor? - Yes. It's an unfortunate fact that up to half of those who had spinal surgery discover a return of their original symptoms months or years later. They then face the prospect of additional surgery. This too common occurrence is known as "Failed Back Surgery Syndrome." Chiropractic may help prevent repeated operations. Rest assured that your chiropractic doctor will avoid the surgically modified areas of your spine. Surgery often causes instability above or below the involved level. These areas will be the focus of your chiropractic care.

What's wrong with me? - Accurately identifying the cause of spinal pain or other discomfort almost always requires a thorough consultation and examination. Individuals should not assume their pain stems from the same problem, for example, their neighbor had, and thus what has helped their neighbor will help them. Just as every individual is unique and different from the next, so too are the health conditions they suffer and the treatments they require.
Chiropractic doctors are highly trained in the diagnosis and treatment of soft tissue injuries and abnormalities common to the spine, extremities and rest of body. Rest assured that if you are suffering from back or neck problems, extremity problems or other health related ailments chiropractic can provide you with the effective professional relief you demand. If your condition is out of the chiropractic scope or would be more appropriately managed by another health care specialist, we will gladly and promptly make the necessary referral.

Do I have a slipped disc? - Discs are the cartilage-like cushions occupying the spaces between spinal bones. Serving as spinal shock absorbers, they allow the back to turn and bend normally. Because each disc is attached to the vertebrae both above and below, there is no way for them to actually 'slip' out of place. But trauma or injury to the spine can cause discs to tear, bulge, herniated or even rupture. The resulting pressure on surrounding nerve tissues can be intensely painful. Each case is different so results cannot be guaranteed, however many patients have found relief in chiropractic care and are happy to avoid surgery or dependency on pain medication.

Do I have a pinched nerve? - Pain is usually the reason most patients consult with a Doctor of Chiropractic. Most patients have heard the term "pinched nerve" and, some may even know that it is associated with pain, numbness, burning, or a "pins and needles" feeling. In truth, the compression lesion or pinched nerve is rare, causing only 10 to 15% of spine- related problems. More often, pain comes from nerve tissues irritated by the rubbing, stretching or scraping of malfunctioning spinal joints. Such malfunctions can be caused by many everyday events including physical trauma or emotional stress. Chemical toxins can also affect the delicate tissues or the spinal cord and nerve roots. Your doctor can determine the cause of your pain and the extent of your problem.

Is chiropractic care appropriate for pregnant women? - Absolutely. Pregnant women may find that chiropractic care helps the spine compensate for the extra weight by making it more resilient.



Payment & Insurance

What are the payment options? - We understand our obligations to our patients as consumers, and therefore, our fees are set. You may discuss fees at any time with Dr. Kerkhoff or the office manager. Our qualified staff has made every effort to help keep down the cost of your wellness care. We have several easy payment options available to you. Please inquire at the front desk. We also accept MasterCard, Visa and Discover Card for your convenience.

What about health insurance? - In this ever-changing world, health insurance has become more and more complex. Our staff is trained to make every effort to assure that you receive the maximum benefits that you are entitled to from your plan. Our office will be happy to verify your coverage and help you fill out your forms. In most cases, we will submit your forms for you. Most insurance plans have a deductible and co-payment for which the patient is responsible. Again, this depends on your policy and its provisions.

What if my policy does not cover chiropractic? - Your health affects everything you do and everyone you know. It is your most valuable possession. Yet, each of us is free to place a different value on our health. It's convenient when an insurance company or third party helps pay the bill. But be careful! Do not allow the profit motive of a huge corporation to make the decision for you. Find out how we make chiropractic care affordable for just about anyone.

How much will it cost? - Costs vary and generally depend on the number of treatments required to effectively treat your condition. A number of studies have shown that chiropractic care is extremely cost effective when compared to other "medical" forms of care for similar conditions. According to the 1993 Manga Report, "There would be highly significant cost savings if more management of low-back pain was transferred from physicians to chiropractors. Users of chiropractic care have substantially lower health care costs, especially inpatient costs, than those who use medical care only."
Note: We also offer different treatment plans and payment options, placing chiropractic care within reach for all who wish to receive its benefits.



General Questions

What common musculoskeletal conditions are treated by chiropractic? - Chiropractic has provided effective relief to millions of individuals suffering from back and neck ailments. Chiropractic has also provided relief from many other musculoskeletal complaints ranging from knee and ankle problems to carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow. In fact, musculoskeletal pain or discomfort in any area of the spine or extremity is a candidate for safe, natural, noninvasive chiropractic care. If a condition exists which is better suited for treatment by a medical specialist, chiropractors are fully trained to identify such conditions and make the appropriate referral. However, most patients suffering from musculoskeletal complaints can and are successfully treated with chiropractic every single day.

Common musculoskeletal conditions treated

What common injuries are treated by chiropractic? - Chiropractors commonly treat all types of injuries and recognize the unique findings associated with each. For example, it's important to understand that auto injuries often involve a delayed onset of symptoms which commonly surface weeks and even months post-accident. In work injuries, chiropractors routinely look beyond the actual injury and address such things as workstation setup, ergonomically correct equipment, and proper work techniques. For sports injuries, chiropractors often check for biomechanical and muscle imbalances as a routine part of the treatment plan. Treating the whole person and optimizing health is what chiropractic is all about.

Common injuries treated

What are your office hours? - Our office hours are extremely flexible for your convenience. They are part of our overall commitment to quality. The office is open Monday through Wednesday from 9AM to 6PM, and Friday from 9AM to 6PM and on Saturdays by appointment. We try to accommodate true emergencies at any time, but we do request you schedule an appointment in advance. In this way, we can continue to provide the highest quality of service to you, our patient. We appreciate 24 hours advance notice of cancellations and request that you be on time for you scheduled appointment.

Are you accepting new patients? - We welcome new patients always! A referral is the finest compliment a patient can make to our office. Tell someone who may benefit from our special wellness care about this website and Kerkhoff Chiropractic.

Where are you located? - The office is conveniently located on Highway 6 in Waukee, in the Waukee Professional Plaza next to Waukee City Hall. There is plenty of parking, most often within a few steps of our door as a service to our patients.

What should I expect from my visit? - After an in-depth consultation in which the chiropractor will ask you about your chief health complaints, family history, dietary habits and other care you may have received, your job, and other questions designed to help determine the nature of your illness and the best way to go about treating the problem. Next, a thorough examination is performed which may include x-rays and other diagnostic procedures. In addition, a careful spinal examination and analysis will be performed to detect any structural abnormalities which may be affecting or causing your condition. Next the doctor will then comprehensively explain his findings and recommended treatment program to you. Recommendations will often include lifestyle factors that affect your overall health, such as your diet, level of exercise, your rest, and recreational habits. You treatment may also include adjunctive therapies, depending on your state of health. The effects of your treatment may be immediate or they may take time. Again, all is dependent on your current overall state of well being.

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