What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractors are neuromuscular specialists thus focusing on treating the spine, pelvis, joints and nervous system. They do this through taking a thorough history and examination and then providing a diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plan. This evidence based treatment plan is specific for that patient including spinal adjustments, physical therapy, and exercise and lifestyle modification to help the area repair and prevent re-injury.
What is an adjustment?
An adjustment is a high velocity low amplitude movement applied by hand to a specific joint of the body that the chiropractor has diagnosed as being one of the causes of pain and restriction in movement. Through providing an adjustment this can increase movement, decrease pain and optimize function of that joint. The popping noise you may here is from the joint being distracted creating negative pressure which creates a nitrogen gas bubble to escape.
How do Chiropractic adjustments help back pain?
One of the features of chiropractic adjustments is the immediacy of its effect, that is, the noticeable decrease in pain experienced by patients within a period of seconds post adjustment. While its clinical effectiveness has been well documented in research the mechanisms via which it achieves its clinically beneficial effects on pain is not fully understood. Chiropractic adjustments of dysfunctional vertebral joints may alter transmission in pain signals not only at a spinal level but additionally within the brain.
Are Chiropractic adjustments safe?
As with every form of treatment, there are risks and benefits of treatment. The benefits of Chiropractic care is decreased pain, increased movement and decrease in additional symptoms i.e. headaches and radiculopathy (referred pain). Chiropractors undertake five years of university education to become safe and efficient practitioners. In very rare circumstances, treatments of the neck have occurred prior to a stroke or stroke like symptoms (1 in 5.85 million). However, research by Cassidy et al (2009) found no evidence of excess risk of VBA stroke associated chiropractic care compared to medical care.
How long will it take for me to get better?
There are varying healing rates for each complaint but also with each individual. You will generally undertake a course of treatment as chiropractic has cumulative response over time e.g. with each treatment you will notice relief of pain and increase in movement will last for extending amounts of time. Many factors effect tissue healing including complicating medical factors, pain, psychosocial factors and tissue injured. Non-specific low back and neck pain expected healing time is 6 weeks. Radicular pain (shooting pain down the limbs) has an expected healing time of 6 weeks to 2 years. Your Chiropractor will give you a healing time for your specific injury or pain.
What can I do to increase the rate of healing?
If the injury has occurred less than 72 hours prior to seeing the Chiropractor follow the RICED principle (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and see your GP if the Chiropractor recommends this). Avoid sitting or standing in the one position for more than 20 minutes. With all injuries avoid positions/ activities that aggravate the area. This does not mean bed rest but continuing to function in a pain free range of motion. In addition, follow the Chiropractor’s specific schedule of appointments and prescribed exercises.
Why is it important to attend my recommended schedule of appointments?
It is important to attend the recommended schedule of appointments as each is a building block to you progressing to your body’s optimal function. Initially, our goal is to decrease your pain and increase your range of motion. When this is achieved it does not mean that we cease treatment. We then provide you with progressive exercises that strengthen and stretch the area to prevent re-injury. When an appointment is missed, it takes longer for treatment goals to be achieved and increases the possibility of this becoming a chronic problem.
Why is it important to do my exercises at home?
The home exercises are vital for steady improvement. At the end of the session we will show you some home strengthening and also stretching exercises that will aid in correcting any faulty movement patterns that have been found through testing. Correction of these patterns aims to decrease the reoccurrence of the injury and help to maintain your improvements in pain and range of motion.
Always remember, if you have any questions throughout your course of treatment please do not hesitate to ask your Chiropractor
Risk of Vertebrobasilar Stroke and Chiropractic Care. Results of a Population-Based Case-Control and Case-Crossover Study. Eur Spine J. 2008 April; 17(Suppl 1): 176–183.
Haldeman S, Carey P, Townsend M, Papadopoulos C. Arterial dissections following cervical manipulation: the chiropractic experience. CMAJ 2001;165(7):905-6.