1. What is Chiropractic?
While many people consult our office for pain or symptomatic relief, chiropractic is about much more than keeping you pain-free. Chiropractic focuses on the integrity of your nervous system, which regulates and controls EVERY cell and tissue of your body. Moving spinal bones can impair this vital communication link between your brain and body. Daily physical, emotional, and chemical stressors that infants, children and adults experience can cause spinal joints to become ‘stuck’. Over time, this limits function and inhibits quality of life. Worse yet, pain or symptoms may not manifest until permanent damage is done. When our doctor locates areas of damage, he/she applies a precise yet gentle force to ‘stuck’ spinal joints to reduce nerve irritation. This is called an ‘adjustment.’ In time, nerves revive and health returns. This is why chiropractic can benefit anyone. Naturally.
2. What do chiropractors treat?
Chiropractors are able to determine areas of your body (particularly the spine) that have lost their mobility. The result is often muscular tightness and nerve irritation. Chiropractors do not ‘treat’ anything. What we do is determine areas of interference to your nervous system. By removing the interference, you can benefit from…
• Decreased pain
• Improved mobility
• Increased energy
• Better quality sleep
• Overall sense of well-being
3. Chiropractic adjustments (a precise method of restoring proper movement) are very useful in correcting:
• pain and stiffness in neck
• pain between shoulders
• pain in hips or legs
• pain, numbness in hands, feet
• pain in shoulders or arms
• muscular pains in chest and abdomen
• shoulder problems
• tennis elbow
• carpal tunnel syndrome
4. Are chiropractic adjustments safe?
Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest, drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of headache, and neck and back pain. It has an excellent safety record. However, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects. Even common over-the-counter medicines carry a risk.
Most patients experience immediate relief following an adjustment, however, some may experience temporary pain, stiffness or slight swelling. Some patients may also experience temporary dizziness, local numbness, or radiating pain. Fortunately, adverse effects associated with spinal adjustment are typically minor and short-lived.
Safety of neck adjustment
Neck adjustment is a precise procedure, generally applied by hand, to the joints of the neck. Neck adjustment works to improve joint mobility in the neck restoring range of motion and reducing muscle spasm, thereby relieving pressure and tension. Patients typically notice a reduction of pain, soreness, stiffness and improved mobility.
Neck adjustment, particularly of the top two vertebrae of the spine, has on rare occasions been associated with stroke and stroke-like symptoms. While estimates vary, a range of one to two events per million neck adjustments is generally considered to be a conservative risk ratio by the research community.1 This is considerably lower than the risk of serious adverse events associated with many common health treatments such as long-term use of non-prescription pain relievers or birth control pills.
An extensive commentary on chiropractic care, published in the February 2002 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, which is the journal of the American College of Physicians, reviewed more than 160 reports and studies on chiropractic. It states the following with regard to the safety of neck adjustment: “The apparent rarity of these accidental events has made it difficult to assess the magnitude of the complication risk. No serious complication has been noted in more than 73 controlled clinical trials or in any prospectively evaluated case series to date.”
A Canadian study, published in 2001 in the medical journal Stroke, also concluded that stroke associated with neck adjustment is so rare that it is difficult to calculate an accurate risk ratio. The study was conducted by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and the authors have stated: “The evidence to date indicates that the risk associated with chiropractic manipulation of the neck is both small and inaccurately estimated. The estimated level of risk is smaller than that associated with many commonly used diagnostic tests or prescription drugs.”
The most recent research into the association between neck adjustment and stroke are biomechanical studies to assess what strain, if any, neck adjustment may place on the vertebral arteries. The preliminary findings of this ongoing work indicate that neck adjustment is done well within the normal range of motion and that neck adjustment is “very unlikely to mechanically disrupt the VA [vertebral artery].”
There are many risk factors for stroke including blood clotting problems, hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol, birth control pills, heart problems and trauma such as blows to the head from car accidents or sports injuries. A patient’s health history and activities have to be examined very carefully in order to determine the most probable cause of a stroke.
5. What makes the sound during the adjustment?
Lubricating fluids separate the bones of each spinal joint. Some adjusting methods can produce a sound when the gas and fluids on the joint shift. It is much like opening a bottle of champagne or removing a suction cup. The sound is interesting, but is not a guide to the quality or value of the adjustment.
6. How long until I feel better?
Some patients experience almost instant relief. Others discover it can take many weeks or months. Many factors can affect the healing process. How long have you had your problem? Are you keeping appointments? Are you getting the proper rest, exercise and nutrition? Do you smoke? Are you in otherwise good condition? Within a short period, most patients sense enough progress to carry out their doctor’s recommendation fully.
7. What if chiropractic doesn’t work?
If we are unable to find and correct the cause of your particular health problem, we will refer you to other specialists who may be able to help. Your health is our primary goal.
8. Are adjustments painful?
Most spinal adjustments are not painful at all and, in fact, patients feel very good and often free of pain almost immediately. Adjustments are very safe.
9. How are chiropractors trained?
In Canada, chiropractors are required to complete a minimum of four years of university, followed by four years at an accredited chiropractic college. A chiropractic student receives 4500 hours of education, much of it in supervised clinical practice. Once students have completed their education, they must pass both a provincial and national set of exams to earn the right to practice as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC).
10. Do I need a referral from my MD?
Chiropractors are primary care providers. This means they can see you without a referral from a medical doctor. It also means no long wait for a medical specialist, just relief from your back pain.
11. Should I see a chiropractor?
Eight out of ten Canadians will experience back pain at some point in their life. For many people, the pain can keep them from work, school, or other day-to-day activities. Back pain will often go away on its own, after two to six months. However, left untreated, there is an 80% chance that your back pain will come back! If you have back pain, early treatment from a chiropractor can help get you on with your busy life. One of the reasons back pain is so common is that so many different things can cause it:
• Work-related injuries
• Sports injuries
• Poor posture
• Car Accidents
• Improper lifting
• Poor diet
Any of these things can cause your spine to shift from its normal position or affect your range of motion. This results in pressure on the joints, muscles, and nerves in that area.
12. Is chiropractic care covered by insurance?
Chiropractic care is not covered under the health care system in the Province of Ontario. However, most private health insurance covers a portion or all of your chiropractic visits. Check with your private health insurance company to see exactly what coverage you may have.
13. Is chiropractic new?
Not at all. In fact, chiropractic care has been around and practiced safely for over 100 years. In fact, adjustments as practiced by chiropractors were documented in ancient Greece and Egypt.