Frequently Asked Questions
To help you, we have answered some of the more frequently asked questions that the GCC receives from the public
If you’re unsure if chiropractic treatment can help with your condition, you may wish to arrange a free, no-obligation discussion with a chiropractor. This may be over the telephone or at the chiropractor’s practice. You should ask whether the chiropractor treats your condition.
If you decide to go ahead with treatment, your chiropractor will assess your condition during your first visit (the initial assessment) before explaining possible treatment recommendations.
You don’t have to agree to the treatment the chiropractor recommends then and there. Just let the chiropractor know if you would like more time before deciding.
Finally, you may also wish to consult with your General Practitioner and seek their advice.
The GCC maintains the Register for all chiropractors. We are not an organisation of medical professionals and cannot provide any medical information, advice or recommendations (even if you should visit a chiropractor).
To find a chiropractor in your local area, use our Find a Chiropractor search function.
When you attend your first consultation (initial assessment), which will typically last 30 minutes to an hour, the chiropractor will take a detailed case history and carry out a physical examination. This will help the chiropractor determine a working diagnosis for your condition and a suitable course of treatment.
Before commencing with any treatment, the chiropractor will explain their recommended course of care, how it will improve your condition as well as any risks and possible side effects.
If the chiropractor does not believe that they can improve your condition or has concerns regarding other health conditions which you may have, they may refer you to another healthcare professional, such as your General Practitioner.
Your chiropractor cannot start any course of care until you have provided consent.
Before treatment starts, the chiropractor will explain what they have found during the physical examination and propose a treatment plan, including the benefits and possible risks. You should take this opportunity to ask questions or request further explanation if anything remains unclear.
Before starting any treatment, you will need to give your permission (consent) to the chiropractor. An agreement should also be reached about how much you will pay for your treatment. As chiropractic treatment is rarely available on the NHS. Either you or your health insurer will be required to pay for treatments.
It is sometimes necessary to remove clothing during chiropractic treatment. If that is the case, you will be informed and provided with a gown to wear. If you are not comfortable undressing, you should explain this to your chiropractor before starting treatment. They can then advise you on suitable clothing to wear to enable them to examine and treat you.
Your chiropractor must get your consent to remove clothing throughout all treatments.
Yes. It’s fine for you to bring along a relative or friend if it makes you feel more at ease. Your chiropractor may also want another person (a ‘chaperone’) to be present during your treatment. This may be a clinic assistant, for example.
Chiropractors treat patients in many different settings, including private, group or multi-disciplinary clinics and practices.
In most cases, chiropractors will undertake treatment in a private room, although some do opt for an open-plan space where several patients may be treated at the same time. If you prefer to be treated in a private room, check with the chiropractor that this is possible before you book any treatment.
Most, but not all, chiropractors will see one patient at a time. When choosing a chiropractor, consider which treatment setting is most comfortable and/or suitable for you.
Before your treatment starts, the chiropractor will create and then agree with you on an initial short care plan. This care plan will include the chiropractor reassessing your progress regularly. Treatments may occur one or more times per week, with most patients seeing improvement in their condition within a short period of time. Following the initial care plan, most patients will not require any further treatment. However, patients with complex, long-term, or reoccurring conditions may require an extended care plan depending on how quickly they respond to treatment.
If you feel your condition has not improved within a few weeks of starting treatment, your chiropractor should discuss other possible care options or refer you to another healthcare professional. A chiropractor will rarely recommend a lengthy (3-, 6-, 12- month) care plan after just one or two visits.
How long you will need to be treated will depend on how quickly your condition responds to treatment. That is something the chiropractor is unlikely to be able to judge at the start of treatment.
You can decide to stop treatment at any time you like. You will not be expected to pay for treatments you have not received.
There are strict guidelines regarding the use of x-rays and MRI scans. Your chiropractor should only recommend x-rays or scans if there is a valid clinical reason.
Some chiropractors use images to check that the patient does not have any serious health conditions affecting their spine, such as a fracture or tumour, or to help them determine where to adjust the spine.
In most cases of non-traumatic musculoskeletal low back pain, an x-ray is not necessary. If your chiropractor does recommend an x-ray, ask them to explain the reasons why it is necessary for treating you.
Some chiropractors can take x-rays in-house. If not, they will refer to a suitable clinic where the x-ray can be taken.
Yes. The chiropractor's role is to deliver their recommended course of care to you. However, it is your decision whether or not to accept their treatment recommendations. Your consent is needed before any treatment can take place, and you should know and understand what you are consenting to.
Costs vary depending upon the location and the nature of the practice. If you have not visited the chiropractor before, they will need an initial assessment of your condition before starting treatment.
The initial assessment and first treatment may be charged together or separately. It is advisable to check what is included in the initial assessment fee. Fees should be explained and agreed upon in advance, and you should not be required to pay significant up-front costs.
Chiropractic isn’t widely available on the NHS. Most people who have chiropractic treatment pay either privately or through their health insurance schemes.
You are not required to inform your General Practitioner about any chiropractic treatment that you have received. However, you are free to do so.
You may also request your chiropractor to speak with your General Practitioner if you have any concerns or issues regarding your health or condition.
Treatment is usually painless unless an area is swollen. If this is the case, your chiropractor will alter the treatment that you receive. You may also hear a clicking or popping noise. This is perfectly normal and commonplace with chiropractic treatment.
Some patients also report temporary aches and pains during and after treatment. Again, this is nothing to worry about and is perfectly normal.
If you are uncomfortable with the techniques being used during your treatment, you should talk to your chiropractor.
There are many different chiropractic techniques. Some chiropractors perform joint manipulation using only their hands while others use various instruments. Additionally, some chiropractors treat using quick but firm manipulation while others have a lighter touch.
Chiropractic treatment is largely driven by the individual preferences of both the chiropractor and the patient, but adjustment choices are made for clinical reasons.
At the start of your care, the chiropractor will explain what improvements they hope to achieve and when these might occur. The chiropractor will monitor your progress at each visit.
Some conditions may only improve after a few treatments. If not, the chiropractor will reassess you and decide whether to change their treatment approach or refer you for further investigation or treatment to a different healthcare professional. If your chiropractor decides to refer you to another healthcare professional, they will ask for your consent to communicate with that professional regarding your treatment.
Chiropractic treatment is safe when performed correctly by a trained and registered chiropractor.
It is common to experience mild to moderate aches and pains, stiffness and tiredness. However, these side effects are usually mild and generally pass within a few days. More serious side effects are rare but have occasionally been reported following spine manipulation.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, certain risks may increase. For this reason, the chiropractor will take a detailed medical history and examine you prior to treatment (the initial assessment). It is essential that you provide the chiropractor with accurate information regarding your medical history. The chiropractor is obliged to treat all information confidentially. Any particular risks that may be relevant to you or your condition should be explained by the chiropractor before consent to treatment is given.
It is a criminal offence for anyone to describe themselves as a chiropractor without being registered with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC). If you have concerns that someone may be describing themselves as a chiropractor, or is not registered with the GCC, you can inform us here.
If a chiropractor has failed to uphold the GCC’s Code of Practise they may be suspended from working as a chiropractor and, if necessary, removed from the register altogether.
All chiropractors must have a procedure to deal with complaints promptly and fairly. If you have concerns regarding the treatment you have received, it may be worth trying to resolve the issue directly with the chiropractor.
If you are still not satisfied, the chiropractor must inform you of your right to complain to the GCC.
If you prefer to contact the GCC, visit the Concerns about a Chiropractor section of our website.
Patients have the right to see all their records and x-rays from the chiropractic practice or clinic. If you decide to move to another practice, or to see a different chiropractor, you can request your records and x-rays to be transferred. Transfers may incur an administration fee.
The practice or chiropractor will store and maintain your records for eight years from the date of your last treatment. This is in line with the requirements covered in the NHS Records Management Code of Practice
Here you will find an overview of chiropractic treatment and what you may wish to consider when choosing a chiropractorFind out More
What to expect on your first visit to a chiropractor for your initial assessmentFind out More
What will happen following your consent to the plan of careFind out More
The GCC is the UK regulator for the chiropractic profession. If a chiropractor is registered with the GCC you can be confident that they are committed to providing safe and high-quality careFind out More