Chiropractic is a regulated health profession and is an evidence-informed, non-invasive, hands-on health care discipline that focuses on the musculoskeletal system.
Chiropractors practice primarily using their hands, providing diagnosis, treatment and preventive care for disorders related to the spine, pelvis, nervous system and joints.
Chiropractors use a combination of treatments, depending on the specific needs of the individual patient. After taking a history, performing an examination and establishing a diagnosis, a chiropractor can develop and carry out a comprehensive treatment/management plan, recommend therapeutic exercise and other non-invasive therapies, and provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counselling.
One of the most common therapies a chiropractor uses is spinal manipulative therapy (SMT), which can comprise a variety of adjustment techniques. Specific training in SMT allows chiropractors to provide highly-skilled and precise adjustments to the vertebrae of the spine, correcting joint motion to restore proper movement and improve function.
For many conditions, such as low back pain, chiropractic care is the primary method of treatment. When a multi-disciplinary approach is advisable, a chiropractor will coordinate care with other health care professionals. Where other conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical or other treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition.
Chiropractic care may also be used to provide symptomatic relief for patients with chronic conditions.
There are many reasons to seek chiropractic care:
· Back pain
· Neck pain
· Strains and sprains
· Repetitive strain injury (RSI)
· Work and sports injuries
· Limited range of motion in the back, shoulder, neck or limbs
What to expect on your first visit
Your chiropractor may be treating your back pain, neck pain, headache, or other aches and pains, but he or she needs a complete picture of your health history and overall current health in order to provide the best possible treatment for you.
Your first visit will begin with a thorough history, so that your chiropractor can understand your current condition, and also get a picture of your overall health. This may include questions about:
· What brought you to see the chiropractor
· How your condition is affecting you, and what are you trying to achieve by seeing a chiropractor
· Personal and family medical history
· Major illnesses you have experienced
· Surgeries or operations you have had
· Medications you are taking
· A description of your present condition
· The steps you have taken to manage your condition
· Your diet and exercise
· Your sleeping habits, daily activities, work routine, stress level, and home life
After the history, your chiropractor will perform a physical examination to come to a diagnosis. Your chiropractor may perform some of these tests:
· A check of your blood pressure, pulse and breathing
· A test of your reflexes, strength and sensations
· Orthopedic tests
· An analysis of your posture
· An analysis of your movement — he/she will observe how you walk, turn, bend or lift things, as well as how your body moves in the affected area
· A hands-on evaluation of how well your spine moves, identifying restrictions and areas of improper motion
Tip: It is a good idea to wear comfortable clothes and shoes for your visit to the chiropractor and bring a copy of any X-rays or radiology reports you have.
After establishing a diagnosis, your chiropractor will discuss a course of treatment specific to your condition, and then proceed to treatment and answer any questions you may have. Your chiropractor will discuss any treatment options with you so that you can collaboratively decide together on the best course of action for you. Treatment may include manipulation or mobilization of the joints, soft tissue therapy, and therapeutic exercises. Chiropractors may also provide nutritional counselling, and recommend rehabilitation and injury prevention strategies. If your chiropractor diagnoses a condition more appropriately treated by another health care professional, he or she will make a referral.
What is an “adjustment”?
An adjustment (also known as manipulation) is a precise procedure, usually applied by hand, to the joints of the body. When a joint is adjusted, a gas bubble forms causing the “popping” noise you may have heard about. Adjustments work to improve mobility, restore range of motion, and increase movement of the adjoining muscles to relieve pressure and tension. Patients typically notice a reduction of pain, soreness and stiffness, and improved mobility following an adjustment.
Chiropractic adjustment techniques have been researched extensively. Complications are rare and side-effects, such as temporary soreness, are usually minor. Your chiropractor is well-trained to determine if your problem will respond to chiropractic care or if you require referral to another health care provider.
How often do I need to see a chiropractor?
Your chiropractor will discuss a schedule of care, which will depend on your specific circumstances. For some people chiropractic treatment is like a regular tune-up, to help deal with the regular wear and tear of life. For others, it’s simply an effective treatment when pain or discomfort strikes.