chiropractic didn't help

A Previous Chiropractor Didn't Help - Does That Mean Chiropractic CAN'T Help?

5 Reasons Patients Fail Chiropractic

It usualy happens in a casual conversation out and about town. When strangers find out that I am a chiropractor, sometimes they tell me that they tried a chiropractor but it didn't help and they never went back. This never happens in our clinic. Mostly because these people no longer go to chiropractors.

"Used to go but no longer goes", you say? That's right and this happens for a multitude of reasons. Some of the more common reasons are:

  1. Unrealistic expectations
  2. Unwilling to do exercises and alter movement or behavior
  3. Financial issues
  4. Had a bad experience either directly or indirectly with chiropractors
  5. They gave it a good effort with the last chiropractor but never got out of pain and was left feeling like they wasted their money

Before we dive into these reasons, let me be clear; just because physical therapy doesn't help a patient, that doesn't mean that PT cannot help.

Just because a chiropractor didn't help before does not mean that chiropractic cannot help. Quite the contrary actually. Every patient is different, every chiropractor is different, and every injury is different. 

Sometimes, what patients need is a different set of eyeballs and a different set of skills that fit the patient's specific issues just a little better than the other provider. Sometimes it just comes down to pure experience and education. Some providers get out of school and go to work and they only do the minimal amount of learning that is required of them each year. Some continue acheiving and learning throughout their entire career obtaining high-level certifications, Diplomates, and Fellowships. I can almost guarantee that the high-level acheivers are going to be able to help with the difficult conditions where many other providers had difficulties getting results before. 

Plain Talk

If you or a loved one has been in significant pain and have been going to a chiropractor and just getting popped and sent out the door with no other treatment, RUN, don't walk out of there and find another provider.

If you've been going to the chiropractor and/or physical therapist for months and don't feel any better than when you started, RUN, don't walk out of there and find another provider.

If you have been treating for 2-3 weeks with little to no improvement, they either need to change the treatment plan or you need a different provider. 


Now that plain talk is over, let's return to the 5 most common reasons chiropractic fails and cover each briefly for a deeper understanding. 

Unrealistic expectations

Some patients have been hurting for a year. Some have been hurting for 10 years or more. They come into the clinic and are desperate for help but get irritated when they are given recommendations for 2-3 times per week for up to 4 weeks to assess for effectiveness. They truly thought they could just come in, the provider would say some magic words, pop all bones in their body, hit the reset button, and they'd be good as new.

Yeah, sorry folks.

If we could do that, I'd be famous, super rich, and picking up patients in a Creek Stone bus out at the airport because they'd be flying in from around the world.

We aren't magical but, with committment, consistency, and buy-in on the patients part, combined with our education, experience, and integrated approach.....after a week or two patients start noticing big changes and differences. A new patient just this week shared with me that after just 3 visits, her back feels bettter than it has felt in 10 years!

Chiropractic cannot heal long term pain with a short term answer. It's more complicated than that. 

Unwilling to do exercises and alter movement or behavior

Again, patients just want to take a pill, take a shot, or go to a clinic and have a massage or their back adjusted and be healed. That would be great for all involved but it's usually not possible. Part of an evidence-based and highly effective treatment regimen must include exercises, movement, activity, and functionality to do any good at all. Not only that, but lots of times we have to coach patients on proper lifting, postural recommendations, and better, healthier ways of doing things. 

This doens't sit well with our more relaxed patients. They are simply unwilling to do their exercises and/or unwilling to alter their behaviors or activities that got them into pain and kept them in pain for years. How do you help the patients that refuse to be good teammates and help themselves? It's difficult.

Chiropractic did not fail these patients. They failed themselves. 

Financial Issues

This is a simple one. Healthcare is expensive and not all patients can afford what would be the very best for them. We understand that and are very sensitive to financial issues. We believe in telling our patients what research has suggested would be the best for their conditions but then being very clear that we are here however they choose to use us. The point cannot be avoided though, some just cannot afford care and are hoping for a bit of a Hail Mary pass and hope that one trip to the chiropractor will heal all of their ills. 

Chiropractic did not fail these patients. They just couldn't follow through with the proper care.

Had a bad experience either directly or indirectly with chiropractors

One of the BIGGEST reasons I hear that people refuse to go back to the chiropractor is because of bad experiences. Either directly from a chiropractor they were treating with, or through indirect means such as a friend or family member relaying their bad experiences to them. 

Sometimes this means that the patient was scared into long term treatment plans they didn't really need. Sometimes it's that the chiropractor didn't make a good diagnosis. When the diagnosis is wrong, the following treatment is usually wrong and will not be as effective. Sometimes it's because the chiropractor they went to is just, well....weird and the chiropractor claimed to be able to do a whole bunch of stuff that the research literature does not support. 

In cases like these the institutions and regulators of the profession could do better at policing their providers BUT, the profession itself did not fail these patients. The patients failed to do their due diligence in searching out the best providers in their community and failed to do their homework on the providers' education, experience, and reputation. A Facebook recommendation will never be as dependable as good ol' due diligence and background work. You'll almost always eventually separate out the cream from the rest of the crop with a little bit of work.

They gave it a good effort with the last chiropractor but never got out of pain and was left feeling like they wasted their money

This can happen for several different reasons. One is that the chiropractor did not get the diagnosis correct. As mentioned before, it all starts with the diagnosis and if the provider gets that wrong, the treatment is wrong and probably not as effective. Another reason might be that the patient suffers from pain that has lasted for more than 3 months. After just 3 months of pain, it is considered to be CHRONIC PAIN at that point and it is harder to get rid of. At that point, a provider that specializes in orthopedics and knows about chronic pain can give lots of options to these patients. Options like:

  • Medical care
  • Spinal manipulative therapy
  • Cold laser
  • Targeted exercises
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Balance/Movement/Proprioceptive Training

In addition to these, which are ALL available at Creek Stone Integrated Medical, a specialist would engage the patient in a conversation about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Mindfulness Based therapy because chronic pain only goes away when there is a broad management protocol enacted to get these patients to respond. 

In chronic pain, Chiropractic doesn't fail. Chronic pain pathways are permanent and chiropractic is but a small part of the answer to start trying to slowly turn down the volumen knob on the pain. 

Once again, let me be clear; if you or a loved one has been going to a chiropractor and just get popped and sent out of the office with no other treatment, you need to find a provider that has a fuller picture of what is going on, of your condition, and of what treatments research proves can successfully treat your condition. 

If you or a loved one is suffering but is only seeking medication or treatment from pain management clinics, we may be a better fit and could have better, safer, and non-invasive answers to your pain puzzle. Give us a try. What do you have to lose? Besides your pain, of course!

Call us at 806-355-3000 so we can get your on our schedule just as soon as possible. Usually within 48 hours. 

The right choice can change everything. 




Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP is double Board Certified as a Fellow in Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine and Orthopedics as well as a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Professionals, and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast ( Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected] Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at

Dr. Williams was voted Best Chiropractor In Amarillo in the Best of Amarillo 2020 & 2021. Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Medical at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109. If you are searching for a chiropractor near me, Dr. Williams is your Amarillo Chiropractor.  


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Jeff S Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP

Jeff S Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP


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