Chiropractic FAQDr. Anna Neff
Here are answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about chiropractic. If you do not find an answer to your question please contact us and we will be happy to help you.
No. As a legislated primary health care provider in Canada under each provincial Regulated Health Professions Act, you may see a chiropractor without referral from your medical doctor. As well, most insurance plans have coverage for chiropractic services. The opioid crisis calls on chiropractic as one of the front-line drugless therapies able to provide effective musculoskeletal pain relief and increased functional mobility. The ability to consult a chiropractor without a referral eliminates the barrier to immediate care and relief.
Much research has gone into specific protocol for workers with low back pain and other injuries that fall under WSIB treatment plans, and cite chiropractic as the first choice of care, followed by massage therapy, followed by physio last.
Chiropractic techniques tend to cost less than a physio session.
A Chiropractic session can give more benefit in 15 minutes than a 1 hour physiotherapy session 3x/week.
Physio patients complain that they don’t get the one-on-one attention from the physio, as they do with their chiropractor.
When it comes to immediate relief of pain, chiropractic is more effective than physiotherapy, since the method of spinal manipulation is exact and focused chiropractic can achieve results in a single treatment, whereas, physiotherapy takes several visits for the patient to feel any kind of relief.
Read more: Chiro or Physio?
Absolutely. In the past, there were claims made that chiropractic adjustments to the neck was associated with an increased risk of stroke. Through extensive current medical and scientific evidence, it has been proven that there is no causal relationship between neck manipulation and stroke, or damage to arteries. It is important to understand that while there are risks and benefits associated with any health care therapy, millions of neck adjustments are performed safely in Canada each year without the consequence of stroke. It has been concluded by epidemiologic research done over many years with millions of patients that there is no greater risk of stroke for patients under chiropractic care compared with those under medical care. The latest research published in 2016 by a team of neurosurgeons at the University of Pennsylvania concluded that “there is no convincing evidence to support a causal link between chiropractic manipulation and cervical artery dissection”. Chiropractors perform physical exams to determine conditions and risk factors, and offer the safest, most appropriate care, even if it involves referring to another kind of health care practitioner.
This is false. The decision to continue or not is always up to the patient. Many patients who begin seeing a chiropractor continue to see one for the rest of their lives only because they enjoy the benefit of their drug-free care. While a few of these patients may have a degenerative condition which needs constant attention, the greater majority choose to continue a wellness, preventative program. Your spine does not become unstable or dependant on adjustments, nor does someone become “addicted” to spinal adjustments. For example, once you go to the dentist, do you have to go again? Some problems in life require more than one visit to someone who can help, and some patients experience the greatest relief through chiropractic care, so they include chiropractic as part of their regular health maintenance. That maintenance schedule will be different for everybody, and the care plan is part of a shared decision-making between the patient and their chiropractor.
Just as a dentist, medical physician, optometrist, veterinarian, or podiatrist are all properly referred to as “doctors”, so is the Chiropractor. The term “doctor” actually means “teacher” in Latin, and refers to the level of education and expertise attained in a specific area of study that allows them to be diagnosticians (to provide a diagnosis).
A Chiropractor’s education consists of a minimum 7 years of post-secondary education. Chiropractic students achieve a minimum 3 year science degree at a university, followed by 4 years at an accredited chiropractic college/university for intense classroom, laboratory and clinical education. When comparing the basic educational requirements for graduation from chiropractic and medical colleges, it’s interesting to note that, although each has its own specialties, the total hours of education are about equal. In the case of a Doctor of Chiropractic, the field of study is the human body with additional emphasis on the spine, central nervous system, and skills to adjust the joints. Chiropractors are experts at locating and correcting spinal misalignments (known as Vertebral Subluxations) which interfere with the function of the spinal column, the nervous system, and health.
Upon graduation, and in order to enter practice, a chiropractor must then pass National and Provincial board examinations designed to ensure that all practicing chiropractors meet the high standards of competency expected by the College of Chiropractors of Ontario.
Another term used for subluxation is a “misalignment” or “malposition” of one of the vertebral segments (spinal bone) of the spine. Subluxations decrease the function of the vertebrae and negatively affect the nervous system.
Chiropractors locate subluxations through palpation and orthopedic tests, and correct these dysfunctions by hand, called an “adjustment”, to restore proper movement to the spine, and to improve the function of the nervous system.
Dysfunction of a spinal bone can present itself in various ways such as, pain, inflammation, and restricted movement. Muscles tend to stiffen up to protect or guard a joint that is injured or dysfunctional. If left uncorrected, changes to mobility and muscle pattern surrounding the area may occur, as well as affecting the nerve supply to other parts of the body. Pain is the last warning your body gives you after a process has occurred and trauma or dysfunction exists.
Life is expressed through motion, so when vertebral subluxations are left uncorrected for years they can negatively affect the body’s expression of health.
Chiro = “hand”
Practic = “done by”
Chiropractors use a gentle, controlled, and directed quick “thrust” with their hand to unlock the joint from its fixed position—usually moving the joint only about 3-4mm, yet having a great stimulus effect on the nervous system, and the muscles and ligaments attached to the bone. This movement is enough to get the joint to move where the body wants it to go by releasing tension in the surrounding muscles and stimulating the brain and nervous system.
Frequently, the unlocking of the vertebral joint is accompanied by a popping sound produced by the release of gas from the joint space called a “cavitation”. Ironically, the sound has nothing to do with the actual adjustment—it’s just a phenomenon that occurs most of the time, and does no damage to joints or surrounding tissues. The gas gets reabsorbed into the joint within 30 minutes, so people who “pop” their knuckles wait a while before they’re able to it again. Patients tend to use graphic descriptive words like “crack”, “snap”, or “pop”, however, these same patients will also report that their adjustments feel good!
Very few people feel discomfort during the adjustment, while most say that it feels good. On occasion, tense muscles will try to resist while getting stretched quickly during the adjustment. Some people may initially feel some residual discomfort and/or sensitivity – but it is temporary, and not a sign that anything is wrong. It is a therapeutic pain that does no harm. Usually, by the third visit, those patients who initially felt muscle tenderness following an adjustment no longer have that response in future visits. The goal is to release tension in the joint and the muscles that move that joint, so that the spinal bone can move in its normal range of motion free of restrictions.
It is not sensible to think that you, or anyone other than a licensed chiropractor knows how to examine and specifically adjust the spine without hundreds of hours of specialized training. There is great risk to you “self-adjusting”, or having family members walk on your back, or allowing untrained practitioners, such as physiotherapists, osteopaths and massage therapists “push” on the back to make it “pop”. When you self-adjust you are moving joints that are already moving, and risk hypermobility of the joint which can lead to early degeneration. If you had a Slinky, and you taped together four segments of it, the entire Slinky would still move almost the same, but that doesn’t change the fact that those four segments aren’t moving. Self-adjusting reinforces whatever posture habit is already existing at that level of the spine. Most people get temporary relief following a self-adjustment, but feel the need to do it again within an hour. If it’s bad posture, then you’re just reinforcing the subluxation or aberrant pattern. A chiropractor’s intent is to give motion to a joint that isn’t moving.
Chiropractors themselves go to other chiropractors to be adjusted on a regular basis to maintain good posture, mobility, and a fully functioning nervous system. Chiropractors provide safe and specific care to a person’s spine and nervous system.
Chiropractic care during pregnancy ensures that the pelvic joints are moving in full range of motion to aid in the delivery of the baby without restrictions as it passes through the birth canal. Research has shown that chiropractic care throughout pregnancy decrease labour and delivery duration, and decrease complications. A mobile spine and pelvis give the baby room to grow and helps prevent breech presentation. There are specific gentle techniques chiropractors can perform on a pregnant mother to help turn a breech baby. Common pregnancy-related conditions such as, back pain and sciatic, can be relieved safely without medication with chiropractic care. After having a baby, there can be much instability and misalignments in the spine and posture—chiropractic can help a mother recover quicker as her body transitions post-pregnancy.
Yes. And much safer than drugs or surgery for many ailments.
Chiropractors perform different adjustment techniques on infants and young children compared to the techniques used on an older patient. Many parents bring their infants and children for chiropractic care for correction and symptom-relief of the following conditions: Traumatic birth, Torticollis, Colic, Ear infections, Scoliosis, Constipation, Asthma, Bed wetting, Sports injuries, and Growing pains.
Many adult conditions can be seen to stem from childhood, and hence, can be prevented. Chiropractors often say, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” This phrase applies to postural problems seen in young children that only worsen with age. With cell phones, tablets, and computers being a daily part of our children’s lives, chiropractors are seeing more young children with symptoms and conditions normally seen in adult patients. Chiropractic adjustments can help children maintain proper posture, spinal alignment, and a healthy nervous system. Sports injuries are also on the rise, as many children participate in competitive sports that require many hours of playing at an intense skill level.
Research shows that children respond to conservative, safe chiropractic care. It is important to introduce your children to chiropractic adjustments as early as possible. This is not only important for their spinal posture as they grow, but also for the preventative benefits that chiropractic care offers. We need to teach our children the value and effectiveness of drug-free, conservative health care, so that as they grow into adults they can make informed health care decisions for themselves. Chiropractors see many people in late adulthood who “didn’t know what a chiropractor did”, or “were too scared to go”, and are frustrated that “they’d wished they’d gone to a chiropractor earlier on”. This is unfortunate because of the unnecessary suffering these people had to endure for years before they “discovered” chiropractic. You aren’t responsible for what you don’t know, but it’s your job as a parent to teach your children what responsible, safe, health care treatments there are to choose from before they reach for the bottle of pain killers and opioids.
Yes. Spinal surgery can cause instability, scar tissue, and aberrant muscle patterns with decreased mobility. There are circumstances when a chiropractic adjustment may not be an appropriate method of care, which is why a thorough exam is performed by the chiropractor. Your specific condition will be evaluated, and recommendations for other therapies will also be made as alternatives to, or in conjunction with, chiropractic.