As your Orange County Chiropractor in Lake Forest, we’d like to address some of the most common questions we receive about how we operate our practice.

What Does a Chiropractor Do? Listen to this 4-min audio interview with Dr. Portugal explaining the basics of chiropractic care and the approach used by this chiropractor in Lake Forest. Play the episode below.


Are You Able To Help Me?

Our office policy/mission statement is a simple one: If we can help you we will tell you. If we cannot help you, we will tell you that as well and make the appropriate referral. After we form the diagnosis and agree to accept you as a new patient, we will fully explain your condition in a “Report of Findings” (ROF). The ROF is typically done on the second visit, which gives us time to thoroughly analyze your examination and x-rays. Once we are satisfied we can effectively and safely treat you, your condition is explained in a way you understand, and you agree to treatment; you will be given your first chiropractic adjustment, a safe gentle manipulation of the spine. If you present with a non-spinal related condition, other treatment provided at this office will be discussed (ex. Nutrition, fibromyalgia treatment, extremity treatment, etc.) If it is not a condition we normally treat or if a second opinion or further testing is necessary, we will make a referral to the appropriate health care specialist.

How Long Will It Take?

This is a very good question. Your schedule of care will be determined based on what you need to recover from your condition, so it will vary from person to person. Many factors affect the treatment schedule. The most common are; compliance with treatment schedule and recommended exercise, severity, how long the condition has been present, job duties, lifestyle, age and pre-existing arthritic conditions, delayed treatment, previous episodes/injury, disc involvement, etc. Simple cases may take days to treat. Complicated cases may take weeks, even months. You will be given only the treatment you need, nothing more, and nothing less.

Why does it take more than one adjustment if the bone is simply “out of place”?

Because bones do not move out of place. That is a very, very old theory. When you feel “out”, you are in reality simply “tight”. Joints tighten for one of three reasons: (1) major trauma, like a car accident, (2) minor trauma, like bad posture daily at your computer screen, and (3) stress, although stress won’t cause your problem, it will definitely make an existing problem worse. When joints of the spine tighten, they produce pain due to neurological interference. A well-placed adjustment loosens those stiff painful joints, thus blocking the pain signal traveling to your head, thus breaking the pain-spasm cycle. Bottom line: Loose joints are healthy joints, and like getting in shape, it is a “process” to restore normal spinal mobility.

What is chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a clinical science based on the following:

Law of Biology/Homeostasis: The body is always attempting to return to “normal”. The body has the power to heal itself if given the chance. The power that made the body can heal the body. If you get cut, you heal. If you break a bone, you heal. The body “innately” knows what to do.

Theory of the Nervous System: There is a system in your body comprised of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system), special sensory organs (eyes, etc) and spinal nerves (peripheral nervous system) that functions to control and coordinate all the other organs, tissues, and cells in the body and related to the internal and external environments.

Premise of the Relationship between the musculoskeletal and nervous systems: The musculoskeletal system, comprised of 24 movable vertebrae and six layers of muscle, functions to protect the delicate spinal cord and spinal nerves. “Dysfunction” of the spine can result in irritation of the nervous system.

Hypothesis of the Relationship between nervous system and health: The nerves, joints, and discs, are all so close together, that dysfunction of the spine, can cause irritation to the nerves, which cause ill health in the body. Remember, the nerves control and coordinate all organs, tissues, and cells of the body. If the nerves don’t work right, you don’t work right!

“Chiropractic” comes from the Greek word chiropraktikos, meaning “effective treatment by hand.”

What conditions benefit from chiropractic care?

80% of the patients who consult our office present with low back pain, herniated or bulging discs, neck pain, or headaches. However, we commonly treat other conditions such as arm and leg pain, thoracic pain, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, work injuries, and automobile injuries (whiplash).

If you suffer any of the following “medical” symptoms, realize they are quite often associated with neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction that may be helped through chiropractic care:

Neck problems can cause Blurred vision, double vision, dizziness, ringing in the ears, difficulty sleeping, depression, irritability, migraine headache, chest pain.

Low back problems can cause constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, menstrual pain, impotence, stomach upset or reflux, irritable bowel, cramps, swelling.

Dysfunction in a child’s spine can cause ear infection, colic, rashes, bedwetting, asthma, allergies

Some of these symptoms we can help, and some we cannot help-thus the need for a thorough examination, proper testing procedures, and a proper referral to another physician when it becomes necessary. No doctor can help everything!

Is there any research demonstrating the effectiveness of chiropractic?

A wealth of research exists pertaining to issues surrounding chiropractic healthcare. The bottom line: Chiropractic has been proven to be cost effective, treatment effective, reduce time loss for injured workers, in addition to being an extremely safe form of treatment. Patient satisfaction studies are extremely favorable to chiropractic. Our office houses a large database of research. Simply inform the front desk or any of the doctors what you are interested in and we will be happy to pull specific literature for your review.

Do Chiropractor’s work with other healthcare professionals?

No physician can cure everything. We believe in a team approach to healthcare. As such we maintain an extensive referral list of other physicians, including: orthopedic and neurosurgeons, neurologists, pain management specialists, physical therapists, dentist, OB/GYNs, family practice physicians, personal trainers, dieticians, podiatrists, psychologists, Christian counselors, and many others. If we cannot help you, we will make every effort to find someone who can!

“I heard that once you begin care, you have to keep going for the rest of your life.”

If that were true every chiropractor would be so busy they could never accept any new patients. The majority of patients come in, get treated, get well, and it’s over. Once you improve it remains your sole decision to either re-visit the office for future acute episodes of pain, or place yourself on a maintenance program with four proactive goals in mind: (1) minimize your pain, (2) maximize spinal function, (3) decrease reliance on drugs/medication, (4) and keep you employed, a favorite goal of most employers!

“What is the benefit of “maintenance” care?”

Maintenance care is no different than periodic visits to your dentist. Once you start eating right, do you always have to eat right? Once you start exercising, do you always have to exercise? Answer: It totally depends upon your personal goals. The care of your spine and nervous system is no different. We will help you meet whatever goals you set for yourself and help you understand the merits of your choice. Remember, your doctor works for you. It is not the other way around.

“How safe is Chiropractic care?”

Unequivocally, Chiropractic care is one of the safest forms of health care available for the treatment of spinal conditions. Compared to the risks of taking medication and the complications of surgery, risks associated with Chiropractic care are minimal. Are you aware that approximately 16,500 people in this country die every year from the side effects of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)? Add another 20,000 deaths due to Tylenol. Tylenol mixed with alcohol can produce a deadly cocktail. Chiropractic is safer and more effective than most all forms of healthcare!

“Do chiropractor’s agree with taking drugs?”

Of course we do. We simply do not believe in drug abuse and misuse. We believe in Chiropractic first, drugs second, surgery last. When it comes to spinal care, with the exception of a rare neurological emergency, Chiropractic should be your first choice, not your last choice. In complicated or difficult cases we often recommend that the patient return to their medical physician for any medication they deem appropriate to assist in the recovery.

“How educated is your doctor of chiropractic?”

You may be surprised to know that like medicine it generally takes 8 years of college after high school to receive a degree in chiropractic (4 years undergraduate and 4 years graduate). A chiropractic degree from an accredited chiropractic college, followed by passage of the state boards , ensures the public that the chiropractor is well rounded in knowledge and scope. Since chiropractic physicians neither prescribe drugs nor perform surgery, chiropractic college places heavy emphasis on neuromusculoskeletal diagnosis and treatment. Therefore while we are responsible to be able to diagnosis and/or recognize general medical conditions, our background provides a clear advantage in the diagnosis and treatment of neuromusculoskeletal problems compared to most medical physicians. If you suffer heart or kidney disease, your medical physician is the appropriate choice. It is to your benefit to explore both natural and allopathic (drugs and surgery) approaches and choose your best option, or team. Bottom line: No physician can adequately treat everything. Medical doctors, chiropractic physicians, and other health professionals all have a place in the healthcare delivery system.