Prepaid Care

Should a chiropractic practice sell you a certain number of visits?

I feel the answer to that question depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for; when I think of prepaid office visits, I think of tanning salons.

Generally, the only way a doctor can practice this way is if they do the same thing with every patient, for every condition, while knowing precisely how long each visit is going to take; This usually works out to visits that last ten minutes or less.

If there’s no issue or injury you’re trying to address (and you feel some general benefit from periodical adjustments), then this type of practice may be a good fit for you. Bear in mind: this should be a determination you arrive to on your own, without being sold on the benefits of regular visits by the doctor or staff.

As I’ve previously pointed out, no research has ever substantiated the claims that adjustments have any effect on organ function, so please don’t buy into that. Also, if the terms “optimizing function” or “optimizing human potential” come up — hopefully your back is strong enough to run out of that practice. These terms sound great, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be “better”?

Unfortunately, there is no way to measure “better.”

There are no metrics for this, just as there is no means of comparing organ or immune system function in adjusted patients vs. those who’ve had no adjustments at all. The doctor and staff will be cheery, the office will be pleasant, adjustments feel generally good, and the powers of suggestion & placebo are strong;  it is ALL smoke and mirrors.

Ask the patient to relax on the treatment table, have them cough while you hold random spots on their spine, perform 1-3 adjustments, smile, handshake and follow up visit in two days. The thing is, how does any doctor know how many visits it’s going to take? Every patient and every condition is different.

Pro-tip: If it’s going to work, in most cases, results are noticeable within a couple of visits. That’s not to say you’ll be better in a few visits, as certain conditions take longer to resolve (herniated discs, stenosis, injury rehab); but you should notice some improvement within a few treatments.

Let’s say you get better after ten (10) adjustments, but you paid for thirty (30); What happens then?

Do you think they’ll refund you? How about if you don’t make any progress after a dozen treatments? Can you get your money back so you can see another doctor? Most likely you won’t, but to avoid the hassle; don’t prepay for appointments and you won’t have to worry about it.

Most evidence-based chiropractors will limit treatment to 5 visits or less if an appreciable change remains elusive. If nothing improves in that time, your doctor should refer you to a specialist and, if they don’t, you should find a doctor that will.

-Dr. Timothy Kennedy

Dr. Kennedy is a Chiropractor & University of Pittsburgh certified Primary Spine Practitioner.


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