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9 Chiropractor Red Flags You Need to Know

There are clear indicators a practitioner may not be have your best interests at heart.

If you've ever sought chiropractic care, you know how beneficial it can be. Using approaches like adjustments and soft-tissue therapy, a qualified practitioner can help relieve pain associated with spinal misalignment, so that you can feel better without having to undergo an invasive procedure.

"Chiropractic care is like a hidden gem in the medical world," Evan Norum, DC, co-founder at Advantage Chiropractic, tells Best Life. "It's all about tuning into your body's natural rhythms and making adjustments to enhance your overall well-being. It's particularly beneficial for tackling persistent pains in the neck or back, annoying headaches, or joint issues that just won't let up."

According to Norum, if traditional approaches aren't relieving your aches and pains, a visit to the chiropractor may be well worth it.

"It's a holistic, non-invasive approach that can really make a world of difference," he says.

However, when booking your appointment, you want to make sure that you're getting the best care possible—and not all chiropractors are considered equal. In fact, there are some common chiropractor red flags that indicate you should take your business elsewhere. Read on for nine warning signs to look out for.

RELATED: 5 Doctor Red Flags That Mean You Should Find Another GP.

The practitioner is focused on the sale.

chiropractor explaining treatment
chainarong06 / Shutterstock

When you see a medical professional, you want to feel confident that they're focused on your needs and providing appropriate care—and not worry that they're trying to make a quick buck.

"You've got to keep an eye out for those practitioners who are more about the sales pitch than your actual health," Norum says. "If you walk in and they're pushing a lifetime supply of supplements or promising a miracle cure without a proper assessment, that's a massive red flag."

Norum explains that your chiropractor should be delivering a care plan as opposed to a lengthy bill.

"A reputable chiropractor will take the time to understand your unique situation and won't shy away from discussing a tailored treatment plan," he says. "It's all about trust and transparency, so don't settle for anything less."

RELATED: 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Posture No Matter Your Age.

You have to sign a contract for several visits.


Red flags 🚩 we notice are when people get scared into treatment and sign contracts to treat. Our goal is to get you better with thr least amount of treatment. Feel free to give our office a call to see how we can get you back to better health! #chiropractic #chiropracticadjustment #tiptock #newportrichey #neckpainrelief

♬ Sure Thing (sped up) – Miguel

While we know it's important to review the fine print and the terms and conditions, sometimes we're guilty of blindly signing what's put in front of us. But if your chiropractor is laying out a treatment contract up front, definitely take time to think before reaching for that pen.

"One of the biggest red flags is if you have to sign a contract for multiple treatments," Liza Egbogah, BSc, DC, DOMP, osteopath and chiropractor, tells Best Life. "This can lead to over-treatment that isn't necessary, and that may aggravate your condition."

Vasilios Nenos, DC, chiropractic neurologist at TruSpine Injury Clinics, also warns about contracts, especially if they're lengthy.

"The one thing I would definitely watch out for is clinics [that] try to get you into these long contracts of three times a week for the next six months and have you pay upfront," Nenos shares on TikTok.

RELATED: 6 Signs You Aren't Drinking Enough Water, According to Doctors.

Your visit is in an open room.

patient being examined by chiropractor
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

An open floor plan is great for many reasons, but if your chiropractor is using a big, open room to treat multiple patients simultaneously, it may not be the most reputable clinic.

"Other red flags to look out for are multiple people being seen at once by the same chiropractor in one open room," Egbogah says. "In this model, if you have a new concern where chiropractic treatment is contraindicated, you won't have time to address it before being seen. There are also privacy concerns in this method."

Your appointment is super short.

woman talking to chiropractor
Lopolo / Shutterstock

If your chiropractor is only spending a couple of minutes with you, consider whether you're really getting the treatment you need—and if it's worth the copay.

"Very short visits with a chiropractor where you don't have time to talk about your concerns are a red flag for the same reasons as the open room concept," Egbogah says.

RELATED: 7 Biggest Health Risks of Sitting All Day, Doctors Say.

They require all patients to get an X-ray before treatment.

Another common red flag is when a chiropractor requires you to take X-rays ahead of treatment. They may have you do this regardless of the kind of pain you're coming in for, and professionals say it's often unnecessary.

"Most conditions don't require X-rays to diagnose, and you should avoid being exposed to radiation for no reason," Egbogah says.

Jenna Nitowski-Luu, DC, chiropractor at Lotus Spine and Strength, Inc., discusses this on TikTok, noting that these X-rays will typically occur at your first appointment. According to Nitowski-Luu, while an X-ray can tell you several important things—particularly if cancer or a fracture is suspected—it can't inform a chiropractor about why you'd need an adjustment.

"This isn't just a concern because of radiation and the cost associated with it; there are other harms to taking unnecessary imaging," she says in the video.

If you find yourself faced with this dilemma, Nitowski-Luu recommends asking your practitioner if the X-ray will change your plan of care, and if there are any time-sensitive concerns that make them believe you need imaging.

"If [the answer] is no to both, it's a good idea to get a second opinion and see if you really need it," Nitowski-Luu concludes.

They try to sell you a treatment plan using the X-ray.

Making things more complicated, if you do end up getting an unnecessary X-ray done, chiropractors warn that they could also be used to sell a treatment package.

"You or a loved one have maybe experienced this before: They hold up a chart of all the stages of degeneration and show you where your X-ray falls and where you're going to end up if you don't sign up for two to three days a week for the next six to eight weeks," Kyle Hemsley, DC, CSCS, chiropractor at MVMT Rx Sports Care & Chiropractic, says on TikTok. "Don't buy into that—run the other way."

They tell you they want to use imaging to track progress.


It's a SALES tactic. I spazzed at the end 🤷‍♂️ #chiropractor #chiropractic #chiro

♬ original sound – Aaron Kubal, DC

If a chiropractor takes an initial X-ray and announces plans to keep taking them to track your progress, it's another red flag, Aaron Kubal, DC, chiropractor at Twin Cities Rehab and Performance, warns on TikTok.

"Repeat X-rays over and over again doesn't improve results," he explains, noting that something like neck curve can change with each scan depending on the way you're breathing, how you're positioned, or if you're simply in a better mood. Not only that—changes are normal.

"You can't prevent it with cracking and you don't need to—and having more or less neck curve isn't linked to pain, so what are we even doing?" he asks. "It's expensive care based on an X-ray that never should've been taken, using low-value treatment to correct a 'problem' that isn't actually a problem."

RELATED: 10 Things Your Doctor Wishes You'd Start Doing in Your 50s.

You're in more pain.

woman waking up in bed with back pain
Opat Suvi / Shutterstock

Unless you go to a chiropractor regularly, you probably booked your appointment due to some sort of issue or pain you're having. So, if that's not improving with chiropractic treatment—or getting worse—something is definitely amiss.

"If your condition is getting worse or if you're in more pain after a couple of visits, this may mean that it's not the right treatment for you and your chiropractor should refer you to a different type of practitioner," Egbogah explains.

The office isn't up to standards.

walking into office
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

With any healthcare facility, you expect it to be in tip-top shape, particularly when it comes to cleanliness. But, unfortunately, this isn't always the case—and if a chiropractor's facility isn't up to standards, don't hesitate to book an appointment elsewhere.

"If the clinic appears dirty, this may be an indicator that they lack care in other areas," Egbogah says. "If the clinic is clean, this is a sign that patient care is of the utmost importance."

You risk serious ramifications if you don't get the best care.

A Modern rehabilitation physiotherapy worker with senior client

According to Norum, taking the time to find a reliable chiropractor is necessary to protect your health.

"I've seen cases where improper treatment actually worsened existing conditions or even created new issues," he says. "It's not just a matter of wasting time and money; it can seriously impact your health and well-being. In the worst cases, shoddy chiropractic manipulations can lead to severe complications like nerve damage or even a stroke."

He concludes, "It's absolutely important to find a skilled and caring chiropractor who has your best interests at heart."

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Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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