What do Chiropractors do?
Chiropractors relieve pain and restore spinal joint movements with gentle specific manipulations called “adjustments”. On-going treatment may include Exercise and Lifestyle Advice, which is individually tailored to each case. Correction of joint movement problems can be done for arms, legs, the jaw and rib cage.
Are Chiropractic adjustments safe?
Full scientific reviews of the literature (Cochrane Review) have reported that spine manipulation is one of the safest approaches for spine pain compared with many different medical approaches.
Why do adjustments need to be done?
Our lifestyle does not allow spinal joints to fully move, self lubricate and repair properly. This is because we sit too long for work, don’t move enough when we should and make mistakes when we lift and exercise. Adjustments re-establish correct movement and allow the body to move with better efficiency.
A Chinese proverb: “You are as young as your spine is flexible”.
What is the “click”?
During an adjustment, fluid pops and turns into a gas bubble in the joint space. This relaxes local muscles and increases how far the joint moves.
This needs to be done enough times close together to return the joint to it’s normal, fully mobile state. Other benefits of the “click” include central nerve system reflex changes to muscles in the affected area. There is also an immediate release of the brain’s natural opiates which give pain relief and a feeling of wellbeing.
Are all patients adjusted the same way?
No. Every patient’s spine is unique and each adjustment is performed differently according to the patient’s age, condition and health goals. Our chiropractors use a range of techniques including manual style adjustments and use of a drop table or activator. Please see here for more information on each chiropractors techniques.
How many visits do I need for relief?
The number of treatments needed for each person depends on such things as
- injury severity
- length of time you have had the injury
- level of degeneration or bony damage in the spine
- extent or spread of nerve and muscle damage
- is it one, two or more levels of damage?
- general fitness and age of patient
- whether you smoke or are overweight
- your body’s healing rate and sensitivity to any type of treatment (some people can tolerate a lot more being done during one visit)
A very general guide for people looking for some level of pain relief is about 6-12 visits over a month. If there is absolutely no change to a person’s level of pain or activity after a month and 12 visits, a re-assessment or a second opinion is needed.
Progress exams should be made to make sure that improvement Is occurring and that a person understands their problem. Some patients are pleased with pain relief and cease further treatment at this point.
Certain spinal problems need ongoing management to help a person keep operating at their best. Many patients prefer to keep functioning at the optimum and plan regular visits at two, three or four weekly intervals to maintain full function.
Why do some chiropractors recommend more treatment than others?
The number of visits recommended varies because of the different outcomes being sought by the patient and chiropractor. Put simply: rapid pain relief for a young, healthy spine may only need a few visits while older patients with arthritis and other spinal problems generally take longer to heal.
Other than pain relief there are other reasons for people to see a chiropractor and the number of visits will vary based on what the desired result is. An example of this may be whiplash injury which has left a person with headaches, balance problems and neck pain that has lasted some months. There will be more visits needed to restore movement, advise on and demonstrate better movement patterns and restore full, pain free movement.
Why do chiropractors recommend maintenance check ups?
Chiropractors can detect joint movement problems before they become noticeably painful. Adjustments can often clear any restrictions and keep you moving in a pain free way, able to continue doing all that you want.
What else do chiropractors look for during a visit?
Long term spinal problems often lead to adaptions and imbalances elsewhere that can lead to seemingly unrelated problems.
- a stiff neck may be the end result of a long term tooth and jaw problem and managing jaw muscles speeds up the recovery
- a shoulder problem may cause you to shrug your neck muscles to get through a painful point in shoulder movement, causing a neck problem
- a stiff neck may have you sleep on two pillows, stiffening between your shoulder blades
- a sore back may have you bend differently to get your shoes on, aggravating your hips and knees.
- a sore ankle may have you pushing off differently on the other leg, causing knee and hip pain on the other side
Noticing these different movement patterns allows a chiropractor to advise on restoring better movement patterns and changing exercise focus. Once this becomes a new habit, the movement becomes easier and the area is less likely to fatigue.
Do Chiropractors only treat people with back pain?
Chiropractors treat problems of the spine and nervous system. Whilst 8 out of 10 of our patients see us for spine care, some patients report they can better manage a range of other health conditions when their spine and muscle system is relaxed and working well. Some of these symptoms include things like headaches, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, sinus and digestive symptoms. Chiropractic can also help maintain general well being,rather than care for a particular problem. This is called wellness care.
Why doesn’t chiropractic work for some people?
Some joint problems are caused by other things like muscle strains or inflammation and need other types of treatment at the time. Your chiropractor will refer you for other types of treatment if needed.
If a trial of treatment makes no improvement or if other problems outside the scope of practice of a chiropractor are discovered, a patient is referred. Usually the patient’s medical practitioner is the next point of call with a note from the chiropractor outlining what has been done and what may be needed to be done next.
The chiropractor usually stays in touch to follow progress and provide further treatment and advice, if appropriate. Chiropractors often co-manage with other allied-health practitioners such as dentists, optometrists and physiotherapists as well as naturopaths and acupuncturists to get to the bottom of some complicated cases.
When can I stop?
You attend for as much or as little treatment as you like. Some people are happy with one visit occasionally and feel that’s all they need. Other people find that a customized plan of care gets better results and allows them to get long term relief, do all the things they want and not give up things because of their condition.
Know that we happily provide whatever care you seek and explain what we honestly think you need.
What should I wear to my appointment?
Whatever clothes you arrive in, our chiropractors will take care of you.
Do chiropractors treat pregnant women?
Yes. Having your spine checked by your chiropractor throughout your pregnancy will keep you moving well and will assist in maintaining the proper function of your pelvis and spine as you adapt to the many changes your body is undergoing.
Why do children and babies get adjusted?
Growing spines need check ups to ensure that correct movement patterns and development goal-posts are being met. As well as a special child-style adjustment, home exercise and home stretching instructions are often given to help the body restore its normal, efficient movement.
A treatment plan for children will usually only involve a few visits and then an occasional check up to ensure that any of the tumbles they have taken in between visits have not caused any problems. Being parents themselves, our Chiropractors are always more than happy to discuss any concerns you may have prior to commencing an adjustment.
For more information on Chiropractic Care for Children, check out our blog post on the 2019 Review by Safer Care Victoria.