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Why see a car accident chiropractor?

Many people don’t think to see a chiropractor after an accident.

Most go straight to an attorney. But the truth is, most attorneys will send you to a chiropractor after an auto accident! This is because chiropractic care by a sports chiropractor or car accident chiropractor is the best way to recover from many injuries.

Personal injury accidents happen in many ways: auto accident, slip and fall, assault, Uber accident, Lyft accident, bicycle accident and many more. If you have been involved in a personal injury accident your main priority should be to seek medical treatment at a sports chiropractic clinic. Then, you can start looking for legal counsel and getting on with your life.

Sports chiropractors are professionals in treating sports injuries and personal injuries. They will help you understand the extent of your injuries and make sure you receive proper treatment. Sports chiropractors are the best chiropractors to help recover from accidents and are often considered car accident chiropractors

Chiropractors treat over a third of all accident victims involved in personal injury because most car accident injuries and personal injuries include disc protrusions, whiplash, facet syndrome, radiculopathy, bone fractures, bone bruising, and strains. Chiropractors are trained to treat these types of injuries specifically. Plus, they have the resources to make referrals to pain doctors and orthopedic doctors if conservative treatment fails.

Why See a Car Accident Chiropractor?

Chiropractors, specifically car accident chiropractors, offer a comprehensive service to evaluate and treat personal injuries. They are experts in rehabilitating injuries. Because there is overlap in the way sports injuries and personal injuries occur, the approach to recovery is very similar. The treatments are individualized so you can return to your regular daily activities pain-free. Treatments may include:

  • Manual therapy– chiropractic adjustments help to reintroduce normal motion into the spine or joint after trauma.
  • Physical therapy– chiropractors are certified in physiotherapy and specialize in strength and conditioning rehab to help strengthen injured muscles and stabilize ligaments and joints.
  • Sports Massage– Sports Chiropractors and car accident chiropractors use soft tissue sports massage to help alleviate spasms and break up scar tissue, allowing the spine and joints to function optimally. By alleviating muscle spasms, car accident chiropractors can alleviate the stress and compression placed on the spinal joints, discs, and nerves, thereby improving motion and eliminating pain and stiffness.
  • Imaging– Referrals for every individual involved in a personal injury accident are absolutely necessary. It is vital to obtain an MRI to gain a clear picture of bones, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and tendons. Your provider is of no use to you if they don’t know what the underlying cause may be. Advanced imaging helps to determine if more advanced care is necessary.

Medical Bills

Medical bills are the scariest part of a personal injury car accident, slip-and-fall or bicycle accident. You are not at fault but you have debt is on your shoulders because of your injuries.

It is crucial to see a chiropractor who handles third-party billing and will hold the insurance companies accountable for the medical bills and/or refer you to an attorney who will fight for your health and your rights.

Insurance policies play a huge part in your treatment. First, let’s look at how an insurance policy plays a role in your treatment by a car accident chiropractor for your personal injury accident. When people think they have full coverage, they are often misguided.

  • Liability insurance – this is the coverage that California requires you to have in the event that you hit another party with your vehicle. It pays for the other driver’s car and injuries if you cause an accident. The minimum policy is $15,000. These policies can go up to $25k, $50k, $100k, and more.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM) – This is by far the most important coverage for you to have to protect yourself, and it only costs about $100 more per year to get the maximum coverage. In the event that you are hit by a person with no insurance or someone with a $15k policy and your injuries and medical bills exceed $15k, this will help cover those costs. It is important to note that you cannot have more UM coverage than liability coverage. If you want a higher UM coverage to protect yourself, you have to protect others as well. We recommend getting a policy with at least $100k of UM coverage.
  • Medical Payments Coverage (MED PAY) – Med pay is very important to have. In the event that you get into a car accident and seek chiropractic care or other medical care, you can use this toward your bills. Even if the accident was not your fault you can use this toward your doctor bills and pay 100% for an ambulance and emergency visit if you have the right amount of coverage. Some insurances offer up to $100k Med Pay coverage. We recommend at least $20k Med Pay Coverage for only an extra $100 for the year.

Multidisciplinary Approach

After a personal injury accident, you should feel that the car accident chiropractor considers your health and injuries to be a priority. The chiropractor should ask detailed questions to better understand your personal injury accident and how it affects you on a day-to-day basis.

Ultimately, you want a chiropractor who has your best interest in mind and also wants to find out exactly what is wrong with you and can refer to the appropriate doctors to help with your car accident injuries. You should not be seeing a chiropractor solely. There may be more to your injuries than just pain, stiffness, and weakness. Personal injury accidents involve trauma, and it’s in your best interest to find out how much trauma you sustained and what more can be done to fix your injuries.

Additionally, if the MRI results are not what you expected, understand that if chiropractic treatment does not show major improvement after 6-8 weeks, your doctor will send you to a pain management doctor or orthopedic doctor for at least a consultation to explore options for more invasive treatment. Another round of 6 weeks of treatment may follow that consultation at the discretion of the doctor. Their decision may be to complete a full 12 weeks of therapy based on medical guidelines before invasive treatments are performed.

Get an Attorney Referral

Quality car accident chiropractors also care about who represents their clients. Your car accident chiropractor will set you up to work with car accident attorney that is aggressive and dedicated to getting you compensation for your injuries.

Not all attorneys are alike. Some of the smallest firms can be the most powerful firms. The attorney your chiropractor may refer you to will certainly be one of the most aggressive car accident law firms in your state.

When a car accident chiropractor makes a referral for your case to these types of attorneys, it can help strengthen your legal claim. When you are not at fault and the other insurance company wants to claim that their party was the victim, you want the type of attorney’s that won’t take any excuse from insurance companies.

When you have an aggressive attorney at the end of your case, you get a lot more than just medical treatment and leverage. Depending on your policy and your injuries, the attorney you work with should be able to gain maximum compensation for your pain and suffering based on the third-party liability policy limits and your uninsured motorist coverage.

The Benefits of Car Accident Chiropractors

  1. Invisible Injuries: After a car accident, you will experience pain either immediately or up to 72 hours later. You may experience whiplash symptoms, headache, dizziness, neck pain, concussion symptoms, and even nausea. Why these symptoms occur requires more in-depth analysis. Recommendations to receive an MRI of the neck, head, brain, or back are vital to understanding your injuries and setting the foundation for your treatment.
  2. Manage Inflammation: Inflammation after a car accident, bicycle accident, or slip-and-fall is the body’s natural response to injury. Inflammation brings healing properties to the area to help repair the body following a car accident. A sports chiropractor and car accident chiropractor can use tools at their disposal to relieve the pressure and minimize pain caused by excessive inflammation.
  3. Manage Concussions: Concussions are not exclusive to sports injuries. Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury that can be mild or severe. After a car accident injury, you may start to experience symptoms of nausea, dizziness, light sensitivity, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), balance problems, irritability, or difficulty seeing or reading. The first step should be to screen for a concussion, followed by a brain MRI and a VNG (video nystagmography) test. Following that, you may need a neurologist along with a neuropsychologist referral to see the extent of your concussion brain injury.
  4. Scar Tissue Resolution: When muscles get injured, collagen fills in the cracks to repair the micro tears. The scar tissue is only 80% as strong as normal muscle. The scar tissue builds up in an unorganized fashion and can cause problems. With tools and manual therapy, the scar tissue can be reorganized or decreased. This allows for improved muscle function and pain relief.
  5. No Opioids: Prescription drug use is on the rise. While injuries are painful, medication should only be used until you begin conservative treatment. Conservative sports chiropractic care can help reduce the pain, and in turn, reduce the need for costly and dependency-forming drugs.
  6. Restore Spinal Motion: The combination of strength training, stretching, and chiropractic manipulation has been proven to be beneficial at restoring vital spine motion.
  7. Long-Term Benefits: When you go to a chiropractor who has experience, you can rest assured that they are invested in your recovery in the long term. Even minor injuries can have lengthy effects, so proactive care from a dedicated professional is a must.

If you were involved in a minor or major car accident, motorcycle accident, or bicycle accident and have not seen a chiropractor, now would be a good time. At Performance Rx Sports Care, we specialize in treating sports injuries and car accident injuries.

The only difference between a sports injury and a car accident injury is about two tons of metal. Both cause injury and need to be tackled right away in order to prevent those injuries from developing into more serious chronic issues. Chronic conditions cause years of distress, but by taking action quickly, you can prevent unnecessary discomfort and expenses.

It is important to know who to turn to, and Performance Rx Sports Care is here to help guide you every step of the way.

Reasons to Visit a Sports Chiropractor

What is a sports chiropractor?

A sports chiropractor is a highly trained and knowledgeable provider of chiropractic medicine. Sports chiropractors have advanced expertise in both the prevention and rehabilitation of sports-related injuries. They also have advanced training in the use of musculoskeletal imaging studies as well as expert-level knowledge in sport-specific strength and conditioning techniques and optimal biomechanics.

When did chiropractic begin?

Chiropractic medicine was first practiced in 1897. Since then, its growth has been exponential. There are more than 70,000 active licensed chiropractors in The United States alone.

Chiropractic comes from the Greek words cheir and praktos, (“hand” and “done”) meaning “done by hand.” This name was chosen by the developer of the chiropractic profession, Daniel David Palmer. He realized that although there had been various forms of spinal manipulation for hundreds if not thousands of years, no one had developed a systematic approach to spinal manipulation or developed a philosophical or scientific explanation for the effects of spinal manipulation.

Chiropractors are now the third largest group of medical providers in The United States, behind only physicians and dentists. Over the years, chiropractic developed subspecialties of chiropractic care. This allowed chiropractic physicians to focus their care to benefit certain groups (e.g. athletes).

Educational requirements

A sports chiropractor is a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) sub-division. A Chiropractor must complete a four-year doctoral graduate school program at a nationally accredited university. The chiropractic curriculum requires a minimum of 4,200 classroom, laboratory, and clinical rotation hours. As a part of the 4-year degree, 2 years of advanced anatomy and physiological sciences are required, followed by the completion of the Chiropractic national boards part 1.

Part 1 consists of 110 questions in each of these sections:

  • General Anatomy
  • Spinal Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Pathology
  • Microbiology

The next 2 years include clinical sciences followed by testing in the Chiropractic National Boards part 2, 3, physiotherapy, and 4.

Part 2 of national boards consists of 110 questions in each of these sections:

  • General Diagnosis
  • Neuromusculoskeletal Diagnosis
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Chiropractic Principles
  • Chiropractic Practice
  • Clinical Sciences

Part 3 of the chiropractic national boards consists of a 2-part examination with 110 questions related to nine clinical areas:

  • History taking
  • Physical examination
  • Neuromusculoskeletal examination
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Clinical laboratory and special studies
  • Diagnostic and clinical impressions
  • Chiropractic technique
  • Case management
  • Supportive interventions

The physiotherapy exam is taken jointly with the part 3 exam and consists of questions related to the following:

  • Thermotherapy (hot packs, ultrasound and cryotherapy)
  • Electrotherapy (interferential stimulation, high voltage therapy, electrical stimulation, TENS, microcurrent)
  • Mechanotherapy (cervical and lumbar traction, massage, trigger point therapy, bracing, orthotics, taping)
  • Phototherapy (cold laser, ultraviolet light therapy)
  • Functional assessment (gait, movement patterns, muscle imbalance evaluations)
  • Exercise Physiology (neurobiology of training and conditioning, biochemistry of training and conditioning)
  • Endurance Training (aerobic capacity and adaptation, cardiovascular rehabilitation),
  • Muscle rehabilitation (stretching techniques, strengthening protocols)
  • Neuromuscular rehabilitation (balance and alignment, coordinated movement patterns, core and spine stabilization)
  • Disorder-specific rehabilitation (spine and pelvis, upper extremities, lower extremities)

Part 4 of the chiropractic national boards consists of three major sections: diagnostic imaging, chiropractic technique, and case management. Each section is divided into 20 stations.

These requirements are very similar to those for medical physicians and osteopathic physicians.

In addition to this basic training in chiropractic medicine, a chiropractor may take post-graduate residency programs in which he/she can attain board certifications in specific areas of chiropractic. These residency programs are offered in chiropractic colleges and may take 1-3 years to complete. They include up to 300+ coursework hours followed by an oral and written examination.

The chiropractic board certifications include:

  • Orthopedics
  • Neurology
  • Radiology
  • Sports medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • Nutrition
  • Family practice
  • Pediatrics

Sports chiropractors can obtain two further educational certifications: CCSP® and DACBSP®.

A DC is eligible to sit for the Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP®) exam when one of the following educational requirements has been fulfilled:

  • Course completion of at least 100 hours of postgraduate education in a CCSP® program at an accredited college
  • Completion of a Masters of Science (MS) program related to athletic training, exercise science, biomechanics or other sports equivalent programs from an accredited college.
  • Completion of the first year of a sports medicine residency program at an accredited college
  • Possession of current certification as an Athletic Trainer (ATC)

The CCSP® exam is a five-hour exam consisting of 250 multiple-choice questions. The exam must be taken within three years of completion of the post-graduate education listed above to be relevant in education and research.

The CCSP® certification is a pre-requisite and must be active for the DACBSP® certifying exam. In addition, at least one of the following advanced educational criteria must also be met:

  • Complete 200 hours of postgraduate education in the DACBSP program at an accredited chiropractic college
  • Complete a Masters of Science (MS) degree in a sports medicine related program
  • Complete a sports medicine residency program

The DACBSP® certification exam consists of a written examination and a six-station practical exam. Other requirements include a written research project that must be completed within 5 years of exam completion and 100 hours of practical sideline experience which must be complete before the exam is taken.

Types of care and treatment offered

Sports chiropractors treat a lot more than just sports-related injuries. They treat typical office employees, car accident victims, weekend warriors, amateur athletes, and professional athletes in a variety of sports. Regardless of your injury or your athletic ability, sports chiropractors are best suited to help you recover, stay injury-free, and achieve personal best records in your sport.

Sports chiropractors treat common repetitive trauma injuries and specific injuries. A sports chiropractor has at least a general understanding of most sports, their common injuries and the mechanism of those injuries. Sports chiropractors also understand biomechanics and physics force vectors that are related to those injuries.

Athletes who participate in trauma sports such as football, hockey, and rugby benefit greatly from sports chiropractic care. It can help manage back pain, shoulder injuries, concussion symptoms and more.

Overhead athletes such as rock climbers, swimmers, and baseball players can benefit from sports chiropractors to correct shoulder impingement, elbow tendonitis, and neck pain.

Endurance athletes can also benefit from sports chiropractic treatment to correct muscle imbalances from repetitive use leading to hip, knee, and foot injuries.

Sports chiropractors are trained to use biomechanic testing, muscle testing, and posture evaluation and often test and retest to asses the progress in the recovery program they prescribe. They are also trained to utilize MRIs, musculoskeletal ultrasound, x-ray, and CT scans to get a more in-depth evaluation of injuries.

Sports chiropractors use all the tools at their disposal for treatment. Chiropractic manipulation is one facet of treatment and may be used to help increase, restore, or improve range of motion.

The following are treatments that may be utilized by a sports chiropractor:

  • Manual muscle therapy
  • Strength and conditioning
  • Pulley exercises
  • Olympic lifting exercises
  • Lifting technique training
  • Kettlebell exercise
  • Barbell exercises
  • Stretching activities
  • Core strengthening exercises
  • Kinesiotaping and rock taping
  • Vibration therapy
  • Cold laser therapy
  • Advanced soft tissue techniques (Active Release Techniques®, Graston, IASTM, etc.)

As stated, sports chiropractors may also employ many other traditional therapies such as cryotherapy, immobilization, mobilization, and thermotherapy. This depends on how chronic or acute the injury may be, the timing of the injury, and the severity of the injury.

As primary treatment physicians, chiropractors are frequently sought after for diagnosis, prognosis, correction, and treatment of injuries if there is an overlap in the scope of practice. Many sports chiropractors were athletes themselves. Many athletes from amateur to professional levels will seek out a sports chiropractor to enhance their pre-season and post-season training performance and utilize them to prevent injury.

Sports chiropractors have advanced knowledge of sports nutrition and supplementation. Nutrition and supplementation are important for performance enhancement, injury recovery, and injury prevention. Athletes have high demands placed on their bodies and need nutritional information which allows them to harness the full benefits of their strength and conditioning training.

When injured, supplements help aid recovery. When competing, nutrition and supplements help enhance performance by facilitating strength, endurance, and power output. When training, nutrition helps to take an athlete to the next level.

Because the overall focus of a sports chiropractor is to promote and restore proper biomechanics, strength, and optimal body function, they make ideal consultants for athletes at any level. The expertise they provide can be applied to almost all aspects of athletic training, which makes them invaluable in the world of sports medicine.

While physical therapists are considered the main providers of rehabilitative care in a post-operative scenario, sports chiropractors also have the tools to help aid and speed up recovery. The area also helps strengthen muscles and joint before an operation to aid in the recovery process after surgery.

Philosophy of chiropractic

The first school of chiropractic medicine was founded in Davenport, Iowa in 1897.

Since then, chiropractic care has become popular in all 50 states and in more than 50 countries across the globe.

Chiropractic medicine is a science and a philosophy. The philosophy is built around the concepts of vitalism, holism, conservatism, naturalism, and rationalism.

Chiropractic focuses on neurological and musculoskeletal integrity with the intent to relieve pain and positively impact health and well-being without the intervention of drugs or surgery. The overriding principle of care is that structure affects function. That is to say, if you fix the alignment of the spine through manipulation, you can fix bodily function. Spinal manipulation is a highly technical and specific treatment that re-aligns the vertebrae.

The purpose of spinal manipulation, according to the philosophy of chiropractic, is to realign the structure to take the pressure off of nerves and allow the body time to heal itself. When your spine is aligned, the body will function at its best.

Though spinal manipulation is the foundation on which chiropractic was founded, incorporation of other treatment options is an important part of chiropractic care. Chiropractors incorporate rehab exercises, dietary and nutritional supplementation recommendations, and lifestyle modification counseling into their care.

Sports medicine chiropractic is a non-invasive and non-surgical approach to drug-free pain relief. This approach to pain relief is comprehensive and adopts many different avenues to attain overall wellbeing.

Chiropractic therapy is a subdivision of medicine that has become widely popular amongst health-conscious individuals. It has become a well-accepted branch of medicine, and research continues to show the benefits of chiropractic care.

These days, people use chiropractic care and conventional medicine conjointly to achieve their health goals. The combination of conservative care and modern medicine complement each other and offer the opportunity to accelerate recovery from injuries while maintaining overall health.

Chiropractor specializations

Deciphering a the abbreviated letters at the end of a doctor’s name may seem like alphabet soup, but knowing what those letters mean is the key to finding the right chiropractor. These abbreviations can give a person some much-needed insight into a doctor’s education and experience.

While doctors of chiropractic are trained in musculoskeletal disorders, spinal manipulation, and mobilization techniques, they can choose to become a specialist in a particular area. Like medical doctors, physical therapists, and dentists, chiropractors also choose to specialize in providing a standard of care that exceeds standard practices.

The following is a list from the American Chiropractic Association of chiropractic specializations. A chiropractor comes out of school with general knowledge and a basic skill set. Further training and specialization allow chiropractors to treat highly complex sports, occupational, or traumatic injuries. If untreated, these injuries may lead to chronic illness. The added education is an important step to successfully treating these conditions.

  • Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Radiology (DACBR): This specialist undergoes further education and residency to acquire complete competency in interpreting diagnostic imaging results related to X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and musculoskeletal ultrasounds.
  • Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Rehabilitation Board (DACRB)– This specialist undergoes extensive postgraduate training in the latest treatments and evidence-based physiologic therapeutics and rehabilitation techniques to treat injuries resulting from an accident or a sports injury. There are striking similarities to a DACBSP sports chiropractor from a rehabilitation perspective. From a professional perspective, sports chiropractors excel.
  • American Board of Chiropractic Acupuncture (DABCA)– The holistic therapies of chiropractic and acupuncture are combined to eliminate nervous system interference. The chiropractic acupuncture combination has been around since the 1960s and has gained a large following due to its drug-free therapy benefits. This approach treats disease and injury through energy modulating points on the skin and affects the underlying fascia of the musculoskeletal system. Treatments may involve needle insertion with red light therapy, electrical stimulation, and pressure therapy.
  • Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Nutrition (DACBN/CBCN)– The nutrition diplomate specialist uses advanced nutritional strategies to prevent and treat diseases related to the gut, cognitive disorders, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. The approach is often specific to the disease and may involve food allergy testing and a whole foods diet approach. Nutrition Specialists also spend over 300 hours of post-graduate study learning how nutrition impacts the body through metabolic processes.
  • Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Internal Medicine (DABCI)– These chiropractic physicians specialize in the treatment of chronic disorders involving, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, Chron’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cardiovascular disease and others. These doctors are skilled in treating disease processes through diagnostic testing such as special testing of the blood.
  • Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Orthopedist (DACO/DABCO)– Orthopedic chiropractic specialists can treat acute joint-related issues caused by sports injuries, occupational injuries, or chronic joint diseases. Chiropractic orthopedists use X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to determine the nature of your problem in conjunction with your history. They commonly treat shoulder, elbow, knee, wrist, ankle, and hip pain.
  • Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board (DACAN/DACNB)– The neurology diplomate is the most comprehensive neurology program in the world. The program even supersedes those in the medical neurology board. They provide examinations and treat complex conditions relating to stroke, concussion, ADD, ADHD, and rare neurological conditions. The program is a 300-hour post-doctoral functional neurology course with a rigorous written and performance exam. Patient assessment and treatment may take hours to complete to fully assess all areas of the brain and spine.
  • Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physician (CCSP/DACBSP)– This specialist undergoes further education and residency to acquire complete competency in sports medicine and exercise science in order to treat injuries related to sports and athletics, develop and increase athletic performance, and promote physical fitness.
  • Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Pediatrics (DICCP)– This specialist focuses on a holistic approach to pediatrics and child development. They assess and evaluate women looking to become pregnant, women during pregnancy, birth, infancy, toddlers, children, and adolescents.
  • Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Occupational Health (DACBOH)– Occupational health specialists treat and diagnose work-related neuromusculoskeletal injuries. The focus can help employees maintain their work status while simultaneously saving companies thousands of dollars per year by preventing absenteeism, turnover, and work-related injury claims.

As a supplement to these specializations, chiropractic physicians may seek further education and obtain other certifications that benefit their patients. With new and emerging research and technology for patient care, certifications such as Active Release Technique can help patients recover from generalized pain or catastrophic injuries.

Why visit a sports chiropractor?

Athletes demand a lot from their bodies. Runners need the energy to go further. Athletics athletes need to repeat the same movements and absorb that energy hundreds of times per day. Trauma athletes expose their bodies and brains to trauma for the love of the game. Putting your body through these activities can be traumatic in the moment or build up micro-traumas over time. This can result in a minor or serious injury.

Sprains and strains occur naturally from training and are quick to heal. But, when they heal improperly, your body can start to misalign. Your body starts to adapt to the new you. It starts to use muscles to make up for the change. Your body starts to create muscle imbalances to accommodate these new muscle firing patterns. The imbalances lead to overuse of some muscles and underuse of others. Some muscles become tight and others overly flexible and weak. All of this occurs behind the scenes, so you probably won’t feel a thing until it’s too late.

Seeing a sports chiropractor can help athletes to prevent these silent problems from leading to injury. If you have already experienced an injury, sports chiropractors can help to reverse engineer the problem and find out what you are doing in your sport that is causing you to create these imbalances which lead to injury. Some sports are unilateral, such as baseball or golf, so these imbalances are a natural occurrence in the sport.

Do professional athletes use chiropractors?

tiger woods


The list is extensive. When professional athletes train, they use all the tools they can to guarantee peak performance, and that includes a chiropractor. Here are a few names of athletes that relied on sports chiropractors:

  • Rich Froning
  • Joe Montana
  • Jerry Rice
  • Dennis Alexio
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Jay Cutler
  • Ronnie Coleman
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Arnold Palmer
  • Tiger Woods

Getting the edge in athletic performance is big business. Many of the aforementioned athletes and other well-known professional athletic organizations are using sports chiropractors because they are one of the most effective and affordable ways to improve performance and prevent injury. The following are a list of organizations that utilize sports chiropractors:

  • The National Football League (NFL) offers chiropractic care services to all 32 teams.
  • 28 teams in Major League Baseball (MLB) use sports chiropractors for home and spring training.
  • U.S. Olympic athletes use chiropractic care at the Olympic training facilities located in New York, California, and Colorado. Bill Moreau, D.C., is the managing director of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sports Medicine Team.

Many of these athletes rely on chiropractic care while competing and even after their career has ended. Take, for example, Ronnie Coleman. He would lift so much weight that he now continuously sees a chiropractor. He has had numerous back surgeries and still visits a chiropractor frequently.

Why do elite athletes consider spinal manipulation to be important?

Sports chiropractors are more than just chiropractors that offer spinal manipulation.

Sports chiropractors offer comprehensive care that goes SO much further for their patients than a simple spinal manipulation! Sports chiropractors have in-depth knowledge of biomechanics and strength and conditioning training that can be adapted to physical therapy and therapeutic exercise. They offer sport-specific deep tissue massage and advanced soft tissue technique. They employ a variety of stability and muscular reeducation exercises to rehabilitate athletes at amateur and elite levels.

Let’s look at some similarities and differences between professions in the medical community. We’ll take a look at how all professions have their place yet often overlap. Knowing which professions overlap will allow you to make the best decision when choosing treatment.

Sports Chiropractors versus Physical Therapists (PTs)

There are many similarities between sports chiropractors and physical therapists both from a standpoint of treatment and philosophy.

A physical therapist’s education starts with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with an emphasis on exercise science or another related field. Application to a university providing a doctorate of physical therapy is now the norm. Long gone are the days when only a master’s degree was required. Following a 3-year program, a physical therapist too may specialize in areas of care by completing residency programs.

Practice methods are similar. Evidence-based guidelines dictate how a sports chiropractor and physical therapist will approach treatment. These guidelines are based on decades of research from recognized universities and organizations. The research produces a rationale behind the methods of rehab.

While PTs are not trained in “chiropractic adjustments,” they are trained in spinal manipulation to reintroduce normal motion into the spine.

From an educational perspective, sports chiropractors and physical therapists are trained in biomechanics, movement assessments, exercise rehabilitation, physiotherapy, stretching, and passive modalities. Both have advanced knowledge of neurology as it relates to the structure and function of the body. While neurology is a subspecialty of physical therapy, the chiropractic neurology diplomate program is unmatched.

As far as injury rehabilitation, both PTs and sports chiropractors are excellent choices. Both treat chronic and acute injuries related to work, trauma, and sports. Both physical therapists and sports chiropractors can recommend sport-specific strength and conditioning techniques to augment and enhance training.

Sports chiropractors go through extensive biochemical and nutrition education which may help augment patient care and sports performance.

Sports Chiropractors vs. Massage Therapists

Sports chiropractors don’t have much in common with massage therapists, but they incorporate some of their skills to help with patient care. Massage therapists may even be on staff with a sports chiropractor to enhance the patient experience.

Massage therapists are not able to diagnose musculoskeletal disorders and are not able to be primary treating physicians. Massage therapist education is provided by either a certification program or an accredited massage therapy school. Licensing is not required in all states, but it is recommended.

Sports massage and deep tissue massage are the preferred massage treatment methods of athletes. These two methods help break up scar tissue, relieve spasms, and heal injuries.

Sports chiropractors are not massage therapists but are often trained in and use deep tissue massage and sports massage to help increase range of motion, increase flexibility, break up scar tissue, and eliminate spasms.

Active Release Techniques® and Graston Technique may also be employed by sports chiropractors as a more advanced form of sports massage that requires extensive training. These differ from massage in that they emphasize the prevention of scar tissue buildup in muscles.

While sports chiropractors do use massage therapy techniques, they are not massage therapists. Rather, they provide athletes with a well-rounded approach to pain and injuries.

Sports Chiropractors vs. Medical Doctors (MD and DO)

First, let’s discuss the differences between medical doctors.

In reality, both are medical doctors. Both have national board certifications and both apply for residency programs.

MDs represent a larger organization and they can specialize in vast areas of sports medicine, family medicine, oncology, and internal medicine. A doctor of osteopathic medicine’s training is strikingly similar to that of an MD with the exception that their curriculum also includes spinal manipulation. DOs can be thought of as hybrids of chiropractors and MDs.

Chiropractors and medical doctors have a vastly different approach to treating injury. Medical doctors are frequently the dictator of patient care for the rehab team. Chiropractors are part of that rehab team and take a holistic, drug-free, and non-invasive approach. Many MDs are great at diagnosing, but when it comes to non-emergency, medical doctors take a hands-off approach.

An MD’s education is rooted in pharmacology and can heavily rely on medication, injections, and surgery as a treatment approach.

It’s not that medical doctors are unaware of soft tissue techniques; they simply stick to their training. They may recommend a massage or treatment by a sports chiropractor or physical therapist, but they themselves do not practice this method.

Sports medicine is a specialization within the MD realm. There is a 1-2 year fellowship program in which the MD receives further training and experience with sports-related injuries. These MDs come from orthopedic surgery residencies or family medicine residencies.

Primary family medicine MDs are trained to evaluate and treat sports injuries, while their counterparts that focus on orthopedic surgeries do not. The surgical sports medicine physicians training emphasizes repair of specific sports-related injuries (e.g. ACL tear, Labrum tear, etc.)

Athletic organizations utilize medical doctors, sports chiropractors, and massage therapists as complementary sources of care.

Sports Chiropractors vs. Chiropractors

Chiropractors generally fall into two categories: straights or mixers. Think, conservative vs. liberal. Straight chiropractors are considered conservative and mixer chiropractors are considered liberal.

Conservative chiropractic providers tend to focus their treatment methods around subluxation theory and spinal manipulation. This group of chiropractors is often criticized by the scientific community. They are scrutinized because the vertebral subluxation theory that defines the chiropractic profession is often rejected by the scientific community.

They believe that spinal subluxation is the sole cause of disease and dysfunction. They think that fixing the subluxations by taking pressure off of a nerve will yield the best form of treatment and prevention. The problem that arises is that while spinal manipulation has value in helping to restore a normal range of motion in spinal segments, practitioners don’t utilize the full scope of treatment.

Liberal chiropractic providers utilize all of their education and use an array of diagnostic tools to aid in the evaluation and care of their patients. They are skilled at utilizing tools such as X-rays and MSK ultrasound to help diagnose, treat and reevaluate a patient’s condition as they go through a treatment program.

They may work alone or in a multi-disciplinary setting, working with MDs, DOs, DPTs, and massage therapists. They may also work with PTs and athletic trainers and recommend exercise as part of their treatment program. Spinal manipulation is still part of their practice, but they follow mainstream medical research when considering treatment and evaluating patients.

A sports Chiropractor is very much a mixer and falls into the far end of the mixer spectrum, making up approximately 5-10% of the chiropractic profession. These practitioners are highly integrated into the modern healthcare system. They are seen as complementary, yet an alternative to modern medicine.

By incorporating basic chiropractic principles into evidence-based practice methods such as exercise physiology, strength and conditioning, exercise rehabilitation, and sports medicine, sports chiropractors have deeper knowledge that blends many professions together. They use modern, non-invasive treatments for pain, sports injuries, and personal injuries.

How do I know If I should visit a sports chiropractor?

First, you have to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I want from a chiropractic experience?
  • Do I want an adjustment?
  • Do I want Active Release Technique or other manual therapies?
  • Do I want a massage as well?
  • Do I want someone to listen to my problems?
  • How many doctors and chiropractors have I seen so far with little to no improvement?
  • Am I an athlete? And what kind? A professional, amateur, or weekend warrior?
  • Was my pain preventable?
  • Is my current chiropractor, physical therapist, physiotherapist, or trainer helping my current problem?
  • Has my treatment plan plateaued with my current health care professional?

Sports Chiropractors have the advantage over traditional chiropractors in that they add value to the patient experience. Sports Chiropractors evaluate the entire body for strength, posture, and mobility imbalances.

In truth, anyone can visit a sports chiropractor—from an everyday Joe to a recreational athlete to amateurs and pros. Maybe you need a strength and conditioning coach with a medical background for safety and advanced knowledge. Or, you might be looking for someone who has extensive knowledge of your particular sport and can help fix problems before they start.

If you have asked yourself any of the above questions, a sports chiropractor is a proper fit for you.

Now, you have the tools you need to find the right sports chiropractor.

Remember, use your goals to formulate questions for yourself and your treatment provider. This will help you determine which sports chiropractor you want to see.

Give us a call. We can help guide you if you are having any trouble finding treatment. If you have any other questions, we are always here to offer our professional advice and support.

Facet Joint Pain: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatments

With the exception of the top vertebra, every spinal bone in your body has a facet. When people suffer a car accident or sports injury to the neck, these facet joints can become inflamed, immobile and painful. This post will discuss anatomy and some non-surgical ways to fix facet pain syndrome.


Facet joint syndrome is pain that occurs at the articulating joints of the spine. This can include the neck, thoracic, or lumbar spine. Usually, the pain occurs in the neck or lower back after a car accident, motorcycle accident, or high impact sports injury such as a football tackle or falling off the bicycle. While the two joints combined with the disc create stable tripod support, the pain typically occurs in the neck or lower back because these areas of the spine have more freedom of movement compared to the thoracic spine that is locked in by the ribs.

Facets are small synovial joints that undergo constant, repetitive motion and undergo high amounts of wear and tear. Each joint has its own parameters of motion. While one joint has more motion than another joint they work collectively to give us our full range of motion. They also work together with the muscles to prevent an excessive range of motion, twisting and bending. When undergoing constant or sudden stress these joints begin to either become too relaxed and flexible, or stiff.


Remember, the joints do not move without the function of muscles, and they do not stop without the function of muscles and the ligaments surrounding the joints. When muscles and tendons create constant stress, from poor biomechanics, the body reacts to this stress. This reaction results in bone building, or degenerative osteoarthritis. When you hear of bone spurring, this is what people are talking about. When there are less tension and more homeostasis at the muscles and the facet joints this building of bone is less likely to occur, excluding hereditary factors of course.

For example, a person who stands with poor posture and their head is not over the top of their shoulders, but rather slightly forward. We call this anterior head carriage. The muscles in the neck are constantly being stretched. The facet joints in your neck are constantly sliding over each other putting tension on the ligamentous joint capsule. The body doesn’t like to be in this forward head position for a long time. The body naturally wants to protect its life source, the spinal cord. It will start to harden the tendons, tighten the muscles and lay down bone along the joints to infiltrate the capsules in order to prevent the continuation of this. The laying down of this extra bone creates an overgrowth at the joint and enlarges the facet.

Also take note, that while forward head carriage can be due a trauma, it can weaken the muscles and create the same stress and tension. This starts the process of degeneration. In either case, manually correcting the problem by introducing strengthening exercises where needed and stretching exercises where needed, and manually using specific sports massage on spastic muscles will help to slow and stop the process. Stretching typically occurs at the front of the neck with the neck flexors and strengthening with the neck extensors at the back of the neck. While this is a good rule of thumb, remember there is a rotation component to the neck so if you divide the neck into four quadrants, front and back, left and right, you can become more specific in your rehab.

Symptoms of Facet Joint Dysfunction

Facet joint dysfunction is one of the most common problems of the spine. It is no wonder considering the prevalence of Osteoarthritis. Because of the proximity of the facets to the spinal cord and the exiting spinal nerves they can be very sensitive. At the height of inflammation around the facets, they can mimic symptoms of a herniated disc, bone fractures, muscle tears, and even infections.

Typical symptoms of facet joint problems include the following:

  • Intermittent joint pain that may come and go a few times per week or a few times per month.
  • No matter if acute or chronic, patients will have a persistent tenderness to the facet joints time and time again.
  • There will be a loss of range of motion to the spine. The inflammation takes up space and the guarding against muscle spasms reduce the motion.
  • There is increased pain or discomfort to the facet joint when extended and rotated to that side. This is because of compression to an already inflamed joint.
  • Pain may radiate down into the shoulders or upper back from the neck, or into the glutes from the lumbar spine.
  • Regarding the lower back, pain rarely radiates to the front of the thigh, which is typically seen in lumbar disc herniations.
  • Regarding the neck, the pain will rarely radiate past the shoulders and into the arms, which is typically seen in cervical disc herniations.

As mentioned before, these symptoms are episodic and can last for days to weeks and vary in intensity. Sitting is usually the worst position to be in, because the typical poor posture leads to stretching of the joint capsule and muscles, adding stress on an inflamed joint. Despite what people think, standing is relieving because people have better posture. Some might think that they are adding a load to the joint and it will cause more pain. False, it’s what the body needs. The body needs a neutral posture to alleviate pain, strain, and inflammation.

Diagnosis of Facet Joint

What’s interesting is that unlike a disc bulge that can be seen on an MRI, facet joint disorders cannot. Muscle spasms cannot be seen as well, but it is often speculated that with chronic or acute injury there is a high correlation of muscle spasm and facet pain. The only way to diagnose a facet joint disorder is to facet block inject to the joints on two separate days with lidocaine and bupivacaine after failed conservative care. Loss of pain on both days of injection would be considered a positive diagnostic test for facet pain syndrome.

Also, while CT scans and x-rays help to visualize the bones and joints very well, they are not diagnostic tests. They can only help to understand and visualize joint structures better.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Facet Joint Pain

Ultimately, the list below will require effort on your part if you think you have facet pain. These are not quick fixes, and neither is surgery. Surgical and non-surgical interventions take time. As you know, it took time to acquire this problem and it will take time to fix it. That is unless you were involved in an acute trauma like a car accident creating facet joint pain, or football tackle creating facet joint pain.

  • Therapeutic Exercise to the surrounding muscles in all three planes of motion. This should be executed and supervised by a sports chiropractor, athletic trainer or physical therapist.
  • Good posture is important to keep in mind. While you are doing therapeutic exercises, there should be an emphasis on spinal alignment and posture correction exercises. It is the only way to ensure the posture is corrected and maintained.
  • Sleep posture is just as important as daily posture. While sleeping on your back, stomach or side doesn’t matter, what does matter is the position of your neck and back. If you always tuck your neck or hips while sleeping on your side or stomach, or rotate your neck while sleeping on your back, you are just adding to the trauma.
  • Stretches need to be done the opposite of strengthening. It will be harder to maintain postural strength if you have opposing tension fighting you. This will help to improve the range of motion in your neck too.
  • Chiropractic manipulation is helpful, but if you are afraid of neck manipulations, it is not a must. The purpose is to release pressure in the joints to allow better motion. This combined with strengthening and stretching has been proven to have a better outcome.
  • Cervical traction can help alleviate tension and pressure by stretching the tight muscles. This does not in any way affect the discs. This is mainly a muscle lengthening process. Long term elongation of the neck will elongate the neck muscles. Think similarly of stretching your hamstrings for a long time to achieve the splits.

Invasive Treatments for Facet Joint Pain

It may happen that you went thru conservative care and you saw a chiropractor that only put you on hot packs, electrical stimulation for pain, gave you home exercises (that were wrong or unsupervised) and manipulate your neck. Or, you saw a physical therapist who gave you exercises for the surrounding structures but not the neck itself. In which case, I’m sorry on their behalf. There are many facilities that don’t lump people into a group and don’t focus on customized care. These facilities mindset is, lower back pain, do these lower back exercises on this sheet.

  • Facet Joint injections are numbed as a diagnostic and as a treatment. They are injected with lidocaine and bupivacaine on separate occasions to diagnose the pain and in some cases, it alleviates the pain altogether
  • Facet rhizotomy is a procedure that is performed to the inflamed joint in the neck or lower back. When the spinal nerve exits the spinal canal it splits into a motor and sensory division. The procedure destroys the sensory division whereby “shutting off” the pain signal the joint is sending to the brain. Relief may last for months or longer.

What are my Options?

First, if your injuries are due to a car accident seek medical attention immediately. The longer you wait the harder it is to recover. Then seek an attorney if you were hit. At Performance Rx Sports Care are sports medicine oriented with the patient’s success in mind. We take the whole person approach. We will not only help you recover quickly but we will get you the right care necessary for your injuries. If necessary we can recommend attorney’s who will also have your interest in mind and get the most compensation they can for your injuries.

Your injuries require rehab regardless of the severity. Your injuries may lead to injections or surgery, rehab and sports massage like ART will help the recovery process. Research has proven time and time again that proper therapeutic exercise, sports massage, and manipulation (if necessary) leads to faster recovery than any single therapy, injection or surgery alone