Chiropractic is a non-invasive hands-on health care profession focused on the treatment of disorders of the nervous and/or musculoskeletal systems. It is based on the assumption that biomechanical and structural misalignment of the spine can affect the nervous system.
Hence, chiropractic treatments focus on restoring the structural integrity and mobility of the spine in order to reduce pressure, inflammation and irritation of neurological tissue, re-establish altered reflexes, reduce pain, and improve physical functioning.
Chiropractic treatments involve a comprehensive treatment/management plan designed around the specific needs of the individual, and may use a variety of treatments, including spinal manipulation therapy, spinal mobilization therapy, exercise and ergonomics, as well as dietary and lifestyle counselling. Chiropractors base treatment plans on a number of factors, including patient preferences, patient’s size, patient comfort or sensitivity, and severity of symptoms.
More than 100 kinds of adjustment techniques are used by chiropractors. One of the most commonly used techniques is spinal manipulation therapy (SMT), or high velocity low-amplitude thrust (HVLA), whereby the chiropractor applies a brief quick controlled force to a joint while the body is specifically positioned, correcting joint motion, and restoring function. Alternatively, spinal mobilization, or low-force therapy, is a gentle technique, whereby the chiropractor applies slow movement, rocking or stretching to a joint in order to correct joint motion. Other techniques include specially designed chairs, tables or blocks to position patients while applying pressure or using gravity to aid in realignment. Additionally, treatment plans may include ultrasound, therapeutic exercise, and thermal or cold presses.
Research indicates that chiropractic treatments are effective in treating:
- Back and neck pain
- Lumbar herniated disk
- Neck pain
- Migraine and headache
- Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ)
- Upper- and lower-extremity joint conditions Back pain
- Strains and sprains
- Repetitive strain injury (RSI)
- Work and sports injuries
- Limited range of motion in the back, shoulder, neck or limbs
- Cervical spondylotic radiculopathy (CSR)
- Gastrointestinal disorders
Although some patients may experience slight discomfort during or after chiropractic treatments, there is generally no pain associated with joint manipulations. Most patients report immediate pain relief after treatment.
Chiropractic is a regulated health profession, which is recognized all Canadian provinces.
Adverse effects of chiropractic are low. However, the most common adverse effects reported by patients include localised tenderness, fatigue, dizziness/faintness/light-headedness, headache, numbness/tingling, and neck pain.
Chiropractic treatments are considered safe when performed by trained licensed professionals. The risk of serious complications associated with chiropractic adjustment are rare (.006% – .03%). Nonetheless, patients have reported herniated disk or a worsening of an existing disk herniation, compression of nerves in the lower spinal column, and stroke caused by vertebral artery dissection after neck manipulation.
It is not recommended that individuals with osteoporosis, cancer of the spine, instability of the spine, bone pathology, and certain types of inflammatory arthritis seek chiropractic treatments. Also, individuals with an increased risk of stroke should seek advice from their physician prior to chiropractic treatment.
Chiropractors are primary contact providers, and do not need referrals.
Yes, similar to optometrists and dentists, after successfully completing a Doctor of Chiropractic, chiropractors are designated to use the title of doctor.
Similar to cracking one’s knuckles, the popping sound heard during a chiropractic manipulation, known as cavitation, is not harmful. It is caused by a release of gas as the joint is adjusted past its passive range of motion.
Treatment plans are specific to the patient’s needs, and therefore vary; however, a course of treatment is typically between 6 and 10 visits.