Chiropractic Questions and Answers

Chiropractic Frequently Asked Questions

Below we answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding chiropractic treatment, chiropractors and what chiropractic care can assist with.

What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is based on the scientific fact that your body is a self-regulating, self-healing organism. These important functions are controlled by the brain, spinal cord, and all the nerves of the body. The skull protects the delicate tissues of the brain. The moving bones of the spine protect the vulnerable communication pathways of the spinal cord and nerve roots. If the nervous system is impaired, it can cause malfunction of the tissue and organs throughout the body. Chiropractors call this the Vertebral Subluxation Complex. Vertebral, meaning the bones of the spine. Subluxation, meaning the less than a total dislocation, and Complex, meaning consisting of more than one part. Chiropractic is the science of locating offending spinal structures, the art of reducing their impact to the nervous system, and a philosophy of natural health care based on your inborn potential to be healthy.

How Does Chiropractic Work?

Chiropractic works by restoring your own inborn ability to be healthy. When under the proper control of your nervous system, all the cells, tissue, and organs of your body are designed to resist disease and ill health. The chiropractic approach to better health is to locate and help remove interferences to your natural state of being healthy.

 

A common interference to the nervous system is the 24 moving bones of the spinal column. A loss of normal motion or position of these bones can irritate or impair the function of the nervous system. This can disrupt the transmission of controlling nerve impulses. With improved spinal function there is often improved nervous system function. Your chiropractor can help remove any interference that may be impairing normal health.

 

Since the primary focus of your care is improved nervous system function, chiropractic can have a positive effect on many health conditions not normally thought of as “back” problems.

Chiropractic Care and A Pinched Nerve

Many patients consult a chiropractor because they have a pinched nerve. Because of the way the spine is designed, abnormal spinal function caused by physical trauma, emotional tensions, or chemical toxins can affect the delicate tissues of the spinal cord and nerve roots. While commonly associated with the spine, the pinched nerve (compressive lesion) is actually rare. Researchers suggest that only 10% to 15% of spine-related problems are caused by direct pressure of bone on nerve tissue! This can result in numbness, burning or a “pins and needles” feeling. More frequently, nerves are irritated (facilitative lesion). This is caused when nerve tissue is rubbed, scraped, stretched by a loss of spinal curve, or irritated be malfunctioning spinal joints.

Chiropractic Care for a ``Slipped Disk``?

Technically, a disk can’t “slip”.  The intervertebral disc is a pad of cartilage-type material situated between spinal bones. Each disc serves as a connector, spacer, and shock absorber for the spine. A soft, jelly-like centre is contained by outer layers of fibrous tissue. Healthy discs help allow normal turning and bending.Because of the way each disc is attached to the vertebrae above and below, a disc cannot “slip”. However, trauma or injury to the spine can cause discs to tear, bulge, herniate, or worse, rupture. This can be quite painful, as the soft centre of the disc leaks, putting pressure on the adjacent nerve roots and spinal cord. While results cannot be guaranteed, many patients have avoided needless surgery or a dependency on pain pills, by choosing chiropractic care for their disc-related health problem.

What Do Chiropractic Doctors Do?

Chiropractic doctors, or chiropractors, restore spinal biomechanics and help to improve nervous system function.

Helping to restore proper spinal biomechanics and improved nervous system function begins with a case history. This gives the chiropractor a background about your health, such as surgeries, accidents, the onset of your condition, and other details affecting your current health. After reviewing your history and discussing your specific problem, thorough orthopedic, neurological, and chiropractic examination is performed. X-rays may be taken to uncover structural and functioning problems associated with the spinal column. These examinations help identify areas of spinal malfunction and resulting nervous system deficit. The findings of these examinations are explained and a plan of chiropractic adjustments may be recommended. Progress is monitored with periodical examinations and follow-up reports. Since the word “doctor” comes from the Latin word meaning teacher, regardless of your chiropractic doctor’s unique clinical approach, he or she has a strong commitment to patient education.

What Type Of Education Do Chiropractic Doctors Get & How Are They Regulated?

Today’s chiropractor is a highly educated professional. Chiropractic training in Australia involves five year courses at Sydney’s Macquarie University, Melbourne’s RMIT University and Perth’s Murdoch University. Many Australian chiropractors received similar education in the US or Europe.These courses are of similar length and depth as medical courses, but focus on promoting better health via better body function, rather than on medicine’s drugs and surgery. Accordingly, chiropractic education involves a special emphasis on anatomy, physiology, pathology, neurology, biomechanics, X-ray, spinal adjusting techniques and related subjects.  A chiropractor’s education never ends. After entering practice, most doctors complete continuing professional development courses and seminars to upgrade and improve their skills and to stay current on the latest scientific research.  Like other health professionals, chiropractors are required to be government-registered in the state in which they practice.

What Is An Adjustment?

Chiropractic adjustment is the art of using a specific force in a precise direction, applied to a joint that is fixated,“locked up”, or not moving properly. This adds motion to the joint, helping the bones gradually return to a more normal position and motion. The purpose of this safe and natural procedure is to permit improved spinal function, improved nervous system function, and improved health.There are many ways to adjust the spine. Usually the doctor’s hands or a specially designed instrument delivers a brief and highly-accurate thrust. Some adjusting methods are quick, whereas others require a slow and constant pressure.After years of training and clinical experience, each chiropractic doctor becomes highly skilled in the delivery of a variety of adjusting approaches.

Are All Patients Adjusted The Same Way?

The doctor evaluates each patient’s problem and develops an individual course of care. The resulting recommendations are based upon years of training and experience.Some patients who complain of headaches, may actually have a lower back problem that is causing a compensation reaction at the base of the skull. Other patients may be experiencing numbness and tingling in their fingers, when the actual problem is in the neck. Every patient presents a uniquely different spinal pattern.Patients notice that their chiropractor care is delivered with confidence and precision. Each visit builds on the one before. And while visits may seem similar, each patient’s care is uniquely different from every other patient.

Can I Adjust Myself?

Since a chiropractic adjustment is a specific force, applied in a specific direction, to a specific spinal joint, it is virtually impossible to adjust oneself. It is possible to turn or bend or twist in certain ways to create a “popping” sound, like the sound that sometimes accompanies a chiropractic adjustment. Unfortunately, this type of joint manipulation is usually counterproductive, often making an already unstable area of the spine even more unsteady. Adjusting the spine is not for amateurs! The best way to enjoy the health benefits of chiropractic is to receive adjustments from a Doctor of Chiropractic. Even your doctor must seek out the service of another colleague to help restore and maintain proper spinal function.

Can I Speed The Healing Process?

While there aren’t any shortcuts to speed your body’s natural healing process, there’s a lot you can do to give yourself the best chance of a quick recovery.Learn proper sitting and lifting methods. Specific exercises may be suggested to help retrain the muscles that support your spine.  Proper rest is an important aspect of the healing process, too. Get the appropriate amount of rest your body needs and avoid sleeping on your stomach.During the healing process, proper nutrition is more important than ever. Make sure you eat balanced meals, and if you’re overweight, now would be a good time to slim down and reduce unnecessary stresses to your spine.Perhaps most important of all, keep your appointments and follow your chiropractic doctor’s recommendations for optimum results.

Am I Too Old For Chiropractic Care?

More and more people are consulting chiropractic doctors, especially in their later years. With growing concerns about over-medication and the side effects of combining various prescription drugs, safe, natural chiropractic care is growing in popularity.Restoring better spinal function can help improve mobility, vitality, endurance, and appetite.Many patients report improvements with arthritic symptoms and other chronic ailments often associate with the aging process.The adjusting technique used by your doctor will be modified for maximum comfort and results. As we get older and wiser, the simplicity and effectiveness of chiropractic care becomes more and more obvious.

How Long Will I Need Chiropractic Care?

Spinal problems, neglected since early childhood, may require ongoing supportive care for optimum spinal function. These long-standing problems are often associated with muscle weakness, soft tissue damage, and degenerative changes to the spine.Most patients find that periodic chiropractic checkups help keep them in tip-top shape. Those who are active, have stressful jobs, or want to be their very best, find that a schedule of preventative visits are helpful in the maintenance of good health.Some patients seek chiropractic care only when their ache or pain becomes unbearable. While this style of “crisis management” is usually more costly and time consuming, chiropractors stand ready to help all patients, regardless of their health goals.How long you decide to benefit from chiropractic care is always up to you.

Is Chiropractic Ok For Kids?

YES! Children have developing bodies and nervous systems that go through many changes as they grow older. The birth process, bumps and falls that every child sustains can all affect the developmental process.

Chiropractic is suitable for children. Children can be brought in as early as the day they are born. The amount of force used to adjust an infant is no more than checking an avocado at a grocery store.

What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Chiropractic Care?

  • Improve movement and function in your neck, shoulders, back, torso and extremities
  • Improve your posture
  • Provide relief from headaches, neck and back pain
  • Help prevent work-related muscle and joint injuries
  • Lead to enhanced athletic performance
  • Improve your flexibility and range of motion
  • Relieve pregnancy-related back ache
  • Correct gait and foot problems

If I start seeing a chiropractor will I have to go for the rest of my life?

Yes and No.  No, because there is no contract and you are in control of your own health. But also, yes.  The best way to describe this is to compare chiropractic to dentistry for educational purposes. Most individuals see their dentist 1-2 times a year beginning at infancy and continue for the remainder of their life. Why? Because your teeth are important and need to be taken care of.

The same goes for your spine. Your spine houses your nervous system. The master control system that controls absolutely everything in your body. From your heart beating to your lungs allowing you to breathe. When a chiropractor initially begins adjusting you, the frequency is more intense. But after a certain period of time the frequency becomes less once the brain-body connection becomes stronger and the adjustments hold longer. Each individual is different in terms of the frequency of care which is why specific care plans are given to each patient.

 

Once adjustments begin to hold for longer periods of time, posture is improved and range of motion and mobility is improved, we then proceed with maintenance care. This is when patient is checked and adjusted (if warranted) maybe once a month depending on each individual circumstance to ensure that the spine is moving optimally and to avoid any future issues.

I’m not in pain, so why would I go see a chiropractor?

Pain is the last symptom to appear and the first to go away but it does not mean that everything is functioning properly. There are many individuals who do not experience pain but have an array of health issues. Pain is not the best indicator or measure of health.

Short term chiropractic care is great at decreasing pain and discomfort. The symptoms are gone but the cause of the pain still lingers which is why the pain can and most often does come back. The changes seen in long term care with regular visits help you get better fast and stay healthier longer.

Does chiropractic care require x-rays?

X-rays are an important took utilized by chiropractors and can play an important role in diagnosis. They are taken after a thorough history and physical examination is done and are deemed necessary.

Chiropractors are extensively trained in radiology (x-ray reading). They can read x-rays, write reports and take the actual x-ray.

How are chiropractors educated?

In North America, educational and licensing requirements for doctors of chiropractic (DCs) are among the most intense of any of the health professions.

Chiropractors have at least 7-8 years of schooling after high school. They have a minimum of a 3-year university program. They are then educated in nationally accredited four-year doctoral graduate school programs.  The curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, clinical and internship work. DC programs are equivalent in classroom hours to Medical and Osteopathic schools.

 

To become a licensed chiropractor one needs to successfully complete the intense 4-year doctoral DC program and then successfully pass licensing exams. These licensing exams must be passed before a chiropractor can qualify to become licensed by the regulatory authority.

 

Even North American chiropractors practicing chiropractic in Australia must pass Australia licensing exams run by the Council on Chiropractic Education Australasia (CCEA) and then register with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

 

Once a chiropractor is licensed they are still required to do continuing education to maintain their knowledge and skills.