FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What does a chiropractor do, exactly?
Chiropractors are health care providers who primarily treat pain conditions related to the human musculoskeletal system, ie., your muscles, joints and their function. Chiropractic treatment from provider to provider may range dramatically, however. Some chiropractors primarily utilize joint manipulation (adjustments) to the spinal joints to treat their patients' ailments. Chiropractors who practice in this fashion typically will refer to joint dysfunctions as "subluxations" and believe that spinal subluxations cause interference with the nervous system and may impact overall health as a consequence.
Conversely, some chiropractors use joint manipulation as a tool that compliments additional therapies and modalities. Other treatments that chiropractors may provide besides joint manipulations include; physical therapy exercises, myofascial release, active release techniques, instrument assisted soft tissue techniques such as Graston Technigue, myofascial cupping, electrotherapies, passive and active joint mobilization techniques, kinesiotaping and more. Dr. Pierce falls into the latter category and views joint manipulation as a wonderful tool when it is indicated and as a compliment to many of the other interventions referenced above. Both methods of chiropractic care can be incredibly safe, effective and beneficial. The type of chiropractic care you choose should be based on your overall treatment goals.
What is that popping sound in my joints when i get adjusted?
Synovial fluid present in your joints (which acts as a lubricant), contains the gases oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. When you pop or crack a joint (or get adjusted by a chiropractor), this joint capsule is being stretched. Gas is rapidly released, which forms bubbles. This sound often accompanies an adjustment, though it should be noted that the sound is NOT the adjustment, but simply a byproduct of the joint manipulation. Cracking and popping of joints with day to day movements is usually normal and most of the time is nothing to be concerned about unless it occurs excessively and is accompanied by pain and/or if the joint range of motion becomes limited.
HOW MANY CHIROPRACTIC visits do i need?
That question cannot be answered in a way that applies to all patients "across the board", as every patient is different! Much like a new exercise routine or physical therapy treatment, it takes several visits to create long-term change. That being said, with Dr. Pierce's approach to patient care, most patients do not require as many sessions as in a typical cycle of physical therapy, which could generally take 2-3 visits a week for 4-8 weeks.
The initial stages of care require an average of 2 visits per week for the first 2-3 weeks. Upon evaluation of your progress, additional visits are farther apart and more active home-based exercise is prescribed. Depending on the nature of your condition/work/daily activities, it is recommended you re visit the office for treatment to keep you on track. This will vary for each patient, but a popular option is once per month.
Healing is a process, not an event.
DOES INSURANCE COVER CHIROPRACTIC?
Most insurance companies and plans DO cover chiropractic! Coverage specifics depend on each plan. For additional information contact us or your insurance company.
DO I NEED A PRESCRIPTION FROM MY MD before seeing a chiropractor?
Chiropractors are considered primary care providers with the scope of practice to diagnose and treat accordingly. VERY rarely does an insurance company request an MD prescription for insurance to cover chiropractic care. This typically only occurs with some HMO plans. PPO insurance does not require a prescription for chiropractic services.
DO I NEED TO HAVE X-RAYS?
The necessity of X-rays and other special imaging such as MRI, CT, diagnostic ultrasound etc will be determined on a case-by-case basis. If you have had any imaging studies performed it is requested that you bring the results of those studies to your first appointment at Dr. Pierce's Newport Beach office.
Based on your presenting complaints, history and examination, Dr. Pierce will determine if you require any special imaging and provide you with the appropriate prescription. Dr. Pierce outsources her imaging to outside imaging centers that take the images which are then interpreted by a medical radiologist.
What are the current educational requirements to be a doctor of chiropractic?
Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions.
The typical applicant at a chiropractic college has already acquired nearly four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education, including courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related lab work. Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college, the requirements become even more demanding — four to five academic years of professional study are the standard. Because of the hands-on nature of chiropractic, and the intricate adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is spent in clinical training.
Doctors of chiropractic — who are licensed to practice in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in many nations around the world — undergo a rigorous education in the healing sciences, similar to that of medical doctors. In some areas, such as anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation, nutrition and public health, they receive more intensive education than their MD counterparts.
Like other primary health care doctors, chiropractic students spend a significant portion of their curriculum studying clinical subjects related to evaluating and caring for patients. Typically, as part of their professional training, they must complete a minimum of a one-year clinical-based program dealing with actual patient care. In total, the curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. The course of study is approved by an accrediting agency which is fully recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This has been the case for more than 25 years.
This extensive education prepares doctors of chiropractic to diagnose health care problems, treat the problems when they are within their scope of practice and refer patients to other health care practitioners when appropriate.
What is the difference between trigger point needling and traditional acupuncture?
Trigger point / dry needling is a treatment technique where thin filiform needles (solid needles administering no medication) are inserted through the skin into pathological areas of the muscle known as "trigger points" for the purpose of relieving myofascial pain and muscle spasm. The needles will often be manually manipulated by the provider once the needle is in place, which often leads to an involuntary "twitch response" in the muscle. Trigger point dry needling encourages changes to the tissues local to needle insertion. Vessel dilation in the affected regions can encourage the body's natural tissue repair and remodeling, thereby accelerating healing. This practice is applied to treat acute and chronic myofascial pain. There may be short term discomfort during and shortly following treatment, followed by improved mobility and relief. The needles are not retaining in their treatment "points" for very long, unlike traditional acupuncture.
Acupuncture relies upon the use of acupuncture points on specific locations along invisible pathways on the surface of the body called "meridians". These meridians correspond with organ systems and their energies. Specific symptoms and signs relate to the expression of the energy of the internal organ systems. Several factors ranging from injury, stress or illness can lead to congestion of the flow of energy or "qi" along these pathways, which will then inevitably affect several other organ systems if not tended to.
Treatment point selection is based on information gathered during history collection and examination procedures. Once the proper points are determined, thin needles are inserted into those points to the appropriate depth and left there for approximately 20-30 minutes. The needles may be manually stimulated mid-session by the provider.
Traditional acupuncture may also be used to treat musculoskeletal pain. These points in the region(s) of pain are called "Ashi" points. Unlike dry needling techniques these ashi points are not perturbed or manipulated as aggressively and the needles are retained for the duration of the treatment, rather than being removed shortly after insertion. Electical stimulation may also be used on ashi points to enhance the treatment. This is referred to as "electroacupuncture".
IS ACUPUNCTURE SAFE?
Yes, it is very safe when practiced by a qualified practitioner. Disposable sterile needles and clean needling protocols make the risk of infection negligible. Risks are reduced to an occasional small bruise. Acupuncture, as practiced throughout North America, has one of the best safety records of any form of health care.
DOES ACUPUNCTURE HURT?
Acupuncture isn't painful! The extremely fine-gauge needles are about the width of a few human hairs. Acupuncture needles, unlike hypodermic needles, are neither hollow nor rigid, and the tip is shaped to increase the patient's comfort during insertion. A dozen or more acupuncture needles can fit inside the opening of a hypodermic needle depending on the diameter of all needles under consideration. The quality of the needles and the technique of the acupuncturist are the biggest factors when it comes to treatment comfort. Dr. Pierce's acupuncture patients often report that they don't even feel many of the needles!
Once the needles are placed in their appropriate points, you may feel a warmth or dull ache around the needle (which shouldn't be painful!). This is very typical of an effective acupuncture treatment! If you ever feel any pain aside from an initial poking sensation, Dr. Pierce will make sure to adjust the treatment to give you the most comfortable experience possible!
HOW BIG ARE THE NEEDLES?
The acupuncture needles most frequently used in our Newport Beach office range from .18 to .25 millimeters in diameter, and 15-40 millimeters in length.
HOW MANY ACUPUNCTURE VISITS DO I NEED?
This depends on what you are being treated for, as well as how long you have had the condition. For patients seeking care for musculoskeletal pain, it is recommended that 2 visits per week are administered for at least 2 weeks. After assessing your reaction to treatment, additional visits will usually taper to once per week, then less frequently from there. For patients seeking acupuncture treatment for internal medical conditions such as digestive issues, infertility, menstrual difficulty, anxiety/stress and insomnia, treatment is recommended twice per week for at least 2 weeks, then weekly visits are often recommended thereafter depending on how you respond to treatments and follow recommendations.
DOES INSURANCE COVER ACUPUNCTURE?
More insurance companies are offering coverage for acupuncture services! The coverage depends on each plan, and it is important to determine who can perform the acupuncture services. Some plans only cover acupuncture for certain conditions and only pay for it when performed by an MD. It is advised to call your insurance company for the specifics of your plan.
At our office we will bill PPO insurance only. Whatever portion of the visit cost is not covered by insurance is the patient's responsibility. For more information contact us.
WHAT ARE THE EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS TO BE A LICENSED ACUPUNCTURIST?
Acupuncturist's education requirements vary by state. In California, in order to legally practice acupuncture or dry needling, an individual must have earned a Master's or Doctoral degree in acupuncture and traditional eastern medicine from an accredited acupuncture college.