Frequently Asked Questions

Every day in our Frederick office, we're asked many questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about chiropractic!

What does a chiropractor do?

A chiropractor is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system (nerves, muscles, bones).  Chiropractors utilize a drug-free, hands-on approach to examine, diagnose, and treat patients with pains and problems of the nerves, muscles, and bones (and joints!) all over the body-NOT just backs and necks.

Chiropractors can perform laboratory testing, take and order diagnostic imaging, and perform orthopedic examinations in order to assess a patient for treatment.  In addition to relieving body aches and pains through a variety of therapeutic techniques (massage, trigger point work, adjustments, dry needling, kinesiology taping, etc), chiropractors may also offer nutritional advice, prescribe rehabilitative exercises, and offer lifestyle modifications.  Though the scope of practice (ie. what chiropractors are allowed to do by law) of a chiropractor in Frederick, MD is quite vast, we readily refer out to other specialists and professionals when need be.


What kind of education does a chiropractor have?

Following four years of premedical undergraduate training, chiropractors who are accepted into an accredited chiropractic college spend 4-5 academic years to obtain their doctorate.  The class-room education of a chiropractor and a medical doctor are quite similar, and many people are surprised to learn that chiropractors perform 1.5 academic years doing cadaver (human) dissection.  Chiropractors have more training in anatomy, physiology, orthopedics, radiology, and diagnosis, while medical doctors have more training in psychology and pharmacology, obstetrics/gynecology, pathology, and a few more hours of chemistry.  In fact, chiropractors complete more post-graduate classroom hours, but have different clinical requirements (medical doctors are required to perform hospital rotations).  Dr. Cassie had different clinical training than her peers, as she performed hospital rotations at Walter Reed, similar to resident medical students.

How is a chiropractor different from a physical therapist or a massage therapist?

All chiropractors are doctors, but not all physical therapists are doctors.  Chiropractors have much more training in adjustive techniques, pathology, and diagnosis and also have more classroom hours in general.  A chiropractor has the ability to examine, diagnose, and treat most medical conditions, whereas physical therapists can diagnose and treat musculoskeletal dysfunction alone.  Few physical therapists can perform joint adjustments, but are generally better trained in rehabilitative techniques.  Chiropractors can receive special privileges to practice physical therapy, and Dr. Cassie has this ability.

Massage can be very beneficial, but are vastly different than chiropractic.  Massage therapists cannot diagnose or claim to treat anything, but can offer relaxing and therapeutic soft tissue work.

As a chiropractor, Dr. Cassie refers many patients to physical therapy and massage therapists because she has great relationships with both of these professions and knows how beneficial both can be.

What is an adjustment? Is it safe?

An adjustment is a specific, controlled force by a chiropractor that is directed at a joint that has lost a normal degree of motion.  When an adjustment is performed by a trained professional, they are extremely safe.  The chances that a serious adverse event will happen from manual adjustment is 1 in 6 million.  The chance of serious adverse reaction from the activator or computerized adjusting is zero.  If we compare these statistics to the safety to that of NSAIDs (107,000 hospitalizations each year with 16,500 gastrointestinal-related NSAID deaths), we see chiropractic is a much safer alternative than even taking an aspirin.

Singh Gurkirpal, MD, “Recent Considerations in Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Gastropathy”, The American Journal of Medicine, July 27, 1998, p. 31S

Does an adjustment hurt? Are there any negative side effects?

Adjustments should not hurt when performed by a trained chiropractor in a normal individual.  At times, muscular tightness and trigger points can make an adjustment slightly uncomfortable, but most people are more startled by the “popping” and “cracking” noise than the feeling of an adjustment.

If there are any side effects at all, the most common side effect from an adjustment would be slight soreness the day or two following the adjustment.  This usually subsides after the first adjustment, and will feel like the soreness you have after a good workout.

What is the popping sound during an adjustment?

The “popping” or “cracking” you hear during an adjustment is called a cavitation.  This cavitation is a result from a change in pressure inside the joint when it is gapped, releasing air bubbles.  The gapping of a joint is key during an adjustment, as this puts movement into a joint that isn’t moving appopriately.  Not all joints “pop” when they are adjusted, and “popping” a joint does not mean it was adjusted either.

What causes a joint to lose normal motion?

Many things can cause joints to lose a normal degree of motion, such as major trauma and injuries, microtrauma from repetitive motion type injuries, certain sleeping positions, sustained bad postures, poor biomechanics when moving, tight muscles over a long period of time, stress, not getting enough sleep, and even poor nutrition.

I have no pain- why should I see a chiropractor?

Just because you don’t have pain now, doesn’t mean that everything in your body is functioning optimally.  You may very well have joints that aren’t moving properly or latent trigger points that could be limiting your range of motion or function. Each part (joint) of the spine is responsible for a certain degree of motion, which allows you to move (rotate, bend forward and backward etc.). When there are joints in the spine that aren’t moving the way they should, the other joints in the spine have to “pick up the slack” (because the movement has to come from somewhere!), and have to move a little bit more, creating an imbalance.  Too much movement causes unnecessary wear and stress on the joints, while too little movement causes stagnation of joint fluids and improper lubrication of joints, both of which can lead to premature degeneration.

In short, you should see a chiropractor to maximize your human potential and to prevent premature degeneration of your joints!

Can children and babies benefit from chiropractic care?

YES!  Children and babies can have dysfunctional neuromusculoskeletal systems, just like adults.  Additionally, babies undergo trauma during the birthing process (via vaginal or cesarean delivery) that can negatively impact certain aspects of their systems.  There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that chiropractic care can help children and babies with the following issues: colic, troubles breast feeding, add/adhd, autism, bedwetting, “growing pains,” recurrent ear infections,and asthma.  In our office in Frederick, we have had parents of children report decreased healing time with ear infections, better and longer sleeping, help with constipation, and better breastfeeding (latching) after receiving chiropractic care.

What should I expect on a first visit?

On your first visit to our Frederick chiropractic office, you should expect to complete some paperwork, and to receive an exam, consultation, and treatment all in the same day (provided there are no “red flags” that need additional testing).  We suggest that you plan to be here for about an hour, especially if you haven’t filled out the online paperwork.

Do I need a referral from a medical doctor to see a chiropractor?

Most insurance companies do not require a referral from a medical doctor- a very select few do.  In fact, some insurances classify chiropractors as primary care physicians.  If we are unsure if you need a referral from your primary care doctor, we can check with your insurance company and let you know :)

Can chiropractic fix scoliosis?

It depends.  There are two types of scoliosis- functional and structural.  Functional scoliosis results from tight muscles that cause a compensatory deviation (curvature) of the spine, and this is the type of scoliosis that chiropractic care can change.  Structural scoliosis happens during growth (or severe degeneration) and changes the shape and structure of the bones.  Chiropractic care can help the pain and symptoms associated with structural scoliosis, but can not fix the curvature (because we can’t change the structure of the bones by adjustments).

Is it bad for me to “crack” myself?

It depends.  You probably won’t do any serious harm to yourself, because your body won’t relax enough for that to happen.  But if you are “cracking” your self a lot, please know you’re only moving the joints that already move enough (and maybe even too much).  There are likely a few joints that ARE NOT moving enough, and you are not helping the situation by continually moving the ones that move enough already.  You may be causing hypermobility (moving too much) in those areas that you’re cracking.  This can predispose your spine to degeneration in the future only because there are still joints in your spine that aren’t moving well (hypomobility), which causes an imbalance of movement and work load.  Hypomobile joints aren’t getting enough joint fluid, and hypermobile joints are moving too much as they try to “pick up the slack” of the hypomobile joints, and this combined scenario may cause degeneration.

I had back surgery- is chiropractic care still safe?

YES.  It is important to remember that chiropractic care doesn’t just mean manual adjustments.  In our Frederick chiropractic office, we offer many alternatives to the manual table adjustments, which lend themselves quite well to post surgical cases.  Some examples include; computerized adjusting, laser therapy, dry needling, kinesiology taping, and vibration plate training to name a few.  Manual table adjustments can be safe for some post surgical cases but have many factors to consider before doing so (area of the spine, duration post surgery, type of surgery etc.).  If you have specific questions about how we can help you if you have had surgery, please call our Frederick office! (301) 620-1008

Will my insurance cover chiropractic care?

Most insurances do cover chiropractic care.  If you would like us to see if your insurance covers chiropractic, please call our Frederick office and we will check your insurance coverage!  Since Dr. Cassie has physical therapy privileges in Frederick, MD, we also bill certain physical therapy codes.

If I start chiropractic care, will I have to go forever?

NO (but you will probably want to)!  It is your choice whether you choose to continue with chiropractic care once you are finished your initial course of care.  To be honest though, we find that many of our patients in our Frederick office feel so great once they receive chiropractic care that they choose to keep coming back (for maintenance care)!

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