Frequently Asked Questions
What is chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a healing discipline firmly grounded in science. Although its main focus is the relationship between the skeleton (particularly the spine) and the nervous system that runs through it, chiropractic is concerned with the care of the entire body. Chiropractors use various diagnostic methods, including x-rays, to understand the state of your health, paying particular attention to your spine and bone structure. The profession specific terminology of “adjustment” involves the spine as one of the primary procedures of care.
The word chiropractic comes from a combination of the Greek words “chiro” and “praktikis”, meaning “done by hand”. “Treatment by hand” was an accepted form of therapy in ancient Greece. Hippocrates, who is regarded as the founder of medical inquiry, made the first recorded references to spinal manipulation. 1995 marked the 100th anniversary of the evolution of modern chiropractic. In recognition of this milestone, centennial celebrations were held across Canada and throughout the world. Canada Post issued a commemorative stamp in recognition of the centennial of the profession, and to honour its Canadian Found, Dr. Daniel David Palmer.
How does treatment help?
Chiropractic helps to remove postural imbalances and structural misalignments that can accumulate in our bodies over time. Our spines change and develop problems just like our teeth, eyes and heart. Left unchecked for a long time, these changes may lead to pain, stiffness or other more serious problems. A common example is the progression of lower back symptoms which may progress down a leg as pain, numbness, or tingling. This example of leg symptom can result over time from an earlier finding including only simple stiffness and sore muscles of the low back.
The nervous system is a key part of your body. It is the communication system between your brain and all of your body’s muscles, organs and tissues. For your body to remain healthy, your nervous system must function well. For your nervous system to function well, it must be free of interference. The spine is the most common site of nervous interference because nerves travel from the spinal cord through openings on either side of the spine to get to all of your cells and organs.
Teach of us is born with the ability to heal and recover from illness. Our bruises heal, cuts mend and common colds are overcome. Your nervous system regulates this inborn healing ability.
Think of your brain as a central message centre sending and receiving information through your nerves which branch out to connect all areas of your body. Problems associated with the spine including nerve tissue can interfere with your ability to self-heal and may prolong injury or illness.
The customized care you receive from your chiropractic doctor may help to improve your posture, muscle balance and mobility. It can also restore the integrity of your nervous system and get rid of pain quickly, so you can recover and get back to feeling good… today!
Spine and related chiropractic care is safe and effective. Scientific evidence proving that the chiropractic care works is overwhelming and easily found today on the internet. Over the past 20 years, many controlled and independent research studies have shown again and again that chiropractic care is safe and effective for spine and related conditions including low back pain, neck pain, headaches and other conditions relating to the spine*. Based on these scientific studies, the consensus is that chiropractic care is the treatment of choice for most spinal problems.
* The extent to which a person can benefit from care varies depending on their problem and how long it has existed.
Health Care Utilization
According to current research, approximately 60% of the BC population recognizes the benefits of care associated with spine and related conditions. The non-surgical, drug-free healing nature of chiropractic provides benefit to the health of millions of people worldwide each year. Most chiropractic patients experience real relief and general well-being and continue to make regular visits a part of their healthy life choice.
When should I see a chiropractic doctor?
From professional athletes to homemakers, engineers to electricians, youth to seniors, spine and related conditions are responsible for an estimated 1/3 of all daily health care/medicare office visits. Many people see a chiropractic doctor for common back, neck or joint problems, while others may seek relief from the discomfort caused by headaches,or other symptoms. Still others find that regular visits to their chiropractor supports their health promotion.
Regularly a dentist checks our teeth, an optometrist checks our eyes and a medical doctor checks our blood pressure and heart. Yet, we take the spine – a crucial component of our body – for granted. Call your family doctor of chiropractic today because checkups of your spine can help you maintain better health.
What is a chiropractic visit like?
What is a chiropractic visit like? A visit to the chiropractor begins when you walk through the clinic door and are greeted by the receptionist. Visits are very similar to what you might expect at any health clinic.
- Information: Paperwork is provided to you to be completed including a health history form and information about your health complaint. You may also be asked for contact information for your patient file. The reception staff can also answer any questions you may have about what to expect.
- Case History: Once in the exam room, your chiropractic doctor will introduce him/herself, review your paperwork and ask further questions about your condition and history. Further notes are made to your chart depending on your answers.
- Examination: A physical exam is conducted which may mean touching or palpating areas of your body. Your chiropractic doctor will also look for neurological symptoms that could point to an injury involving your nerves. An x-ray or other imaging is recommended in some cases. This will also include some physical tests such as leaning your body to one side and then the other, checking your reflexes and or moving your arms and legs. Depending on your symptoms, you may be asked to wear a gown for examination and treatment purposes.
- Diagnosis: The exam provides clues for your doctor as to what is causing the problem. After all of this information is gathered, your doctor will provide you with a diagnosis. If your doctor suspects that your problem is not caused by the spine, you may be referred to a specialist or other health care provider.
- Informed Consent: Your doctor will discuss the informed consent form with you and request your signature before you continue treatment. Informed consent is about ensuring the patient is clear as to the diagnosis, treatment options and anticipated outcomes of the treatment.
- Treatment: A treatment plan including the types of treatment and how many visits is proposed and discussed. Your doctor will make sure you understand what this means. Once you understand your treatment plan and feel comfortable moving forward, your doctor will perform the treatment, which may consist of a chiropractic adjustment. Adjustments are generally performed on a chiropractic table, similar to a massage table.
- Prevention: How did you end up in this situation? Your doctor will help you identify the cause of your condition, whether it is from poor posture while studying, a repetitive strain injury from the workplace or anything else in between. Exercises and lifestyle advice will accompany your treatment plan. The goal is to get you well and keep you well.
After your visit you may feel some discomfort or fatigue but this should not last more than 24 hours. Many patients feel relief and increased mobility immediately after treatment while others notice changes more gradually. If you follow your treatment plan, you should notice a change in your level of pain or mobility within 3 to 5 visits and maximum recovery within on average 6-8 visits* depending on the nature of the condition or injury. Your Doctor of Chiropractic will review and discuss what you can expect from your treatment.
*Although the Provincial average is 6-8 visits, the range is large with some patients responding much quicker and a few taking much longer.
What is a chiropractic adjustment like?
Many people ask what is a chiropractic adjustment like? An adjustment is a calculated force that moves the joint a few millimetres within it’s normal range of motion. Most chiropractors use their hands to provide adjustments and some use an instrument to perform the treatment. Depending on the type of adjustment, your doctor will ask you to lay on your back, stomach, side or possibly remain in a seated position to receive the treatment.
If you have never experienced an adjustment before it is perfectly normal to feel nervous at first. Trust and confidence in your doctor is of the upmost importance so ensure you ask as many questions as you require so you can feel comfortable.
Some patients experience some soreness or fatigue after an adjustment. While it is not uncommon for patients to report that their range of motion is improved and pain is lessened as a result of treatment, typical improvement comes within 3-5 treatments, reaching maximum recovery within an average of 6-8 visits*.
*Although the Provincial average is 6-8 visits the range is large with some patients responding much quicker and a few taking much longer.
Are chiropractors doctors?
Yes Chiropractors are doctors. Health professionals with the label “doctor” are granted the ability to diagnose patients. The BC Government’s Health Professions Act acknowledges chiropractors as doctors due to their education, experience and skills. As doctors, chiropractors provide evidence-based care to patients.
Individuals who wish to become a chiropractor must complete a minimum of three years of post-secondary education, focusing on organic chemistry, biology and social sciences before applying to an accredited chiropractic college for a further four years of study. The Doctor of Chiropractic degree programs average at 4,500 hours which is comparable, if not greater than the amount of hours required by medical students. In BC, chiropractic doctors who wish to practice must also complete a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their expertise and keep them on top of new developments in the healthcare environment.
Chiropractors complete at least 7 years of post-secondary education to become a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC). The College of Chiropractors of BC is the regulatory body that licenses chiropractors in our province and sets standards of practice to protect the public. Are chiropractors doctors? Yes they are and you can see a chiropractor today.
What is that noise during an adjustment?
What is that noise during an adjustment? The sound is just an audible release of gases that are compressed between a bone joint, much like the sound you hear when you crack your knuckle. The sound is not caused by bones rubbing together or “cracking.” An adjustment only moves the joint by a few millimetres. Sometimes this noise will appear louder the closer to your ear it is. For example, a neck adjustment will appear much louder than a lower back adjustment simply because of the proximity to your ear.
Are chiropractic adjustments safe?
Chiropractic adjustments are safe and in fact a chiropractic treatment is one of the safest forms of treatment. Many studies have already proven the effectiveness and safety of chiropractic care. Serious adverse effects are rare, less than 1 in 10 million treatments. Compared to drugs and pain-killers, this risk is significantly lower.
Chiropractic treatments don’t hurt
Most patients do not report pain from chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic treatments don’t hurt. When patients arrive at the chiropractor’s office in pain, they are more sensitive to whether or not the treatment hurts. In many cases it is the perception of what the adjustment look and sounds like that may give the impression that the treatment is painful. The treatment itself is nothing more than assisting the joint to move in the manner it should.
Do chiropractors treat more than back pain?
When people think of the term “back pain” they usually equate this to an ache in the lower back. In reality, this is only one small part of your entire spine which is made up of bones, joints, nerves, muscles and ligaments that run from the base of your skull to the top of your pelvis and even down to your toes. These tissues supply much of the rest of the body and can therefore impact other areas including your shoulders, legs and head. For example: Sciatica is a common condition that is often confused as a leg problem but actually originates in the spine. Even if you don’t have back pain, you could still have a spine problem and Chiropractors treat more than back pain.