WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT IS 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 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.
HOW DOES CHIROPRACTIC WORK?
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.
Each 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 physical mobility. It can also restore the integrity of your nervous system and get rid of pain, so you can recover and get back to feeling good.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON MY FIRST VISIT?
A visit to the Vancouver BC 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.
- Initial Information: You will complete a health history form online and be asked for contact information for your patient file. The reception staff will answer any questions you may have about what to expect.
Case History: Once in the examination room, your chiropractic doctor will introduce themselves, review your paperwork and ask further questions about your condition and history. Further notes are made to your chart depending on your answers.
- Informed Consent: Your doctor will discuss the informed consent form with you and request your signature before the examination. Informed consent is about ensuring the patient is clear as to the diagnosis, treatment options and anticipated outcomes of the treatment.
- Examination: Your chiropractor will conduct a physical examination which may mean touching or palpating areas of your body. They 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 examination provides clues for your doctor as to what is causing the problem. After they have gathered all of this information, your doctor will provide a diagnosis. If your doctor suspects that the problem is caused by something out of chiropractic scope of practice, they will refer to a specialist or other health care provider.
- Treatment: Your doctor will propose and discuss a treatment plan including the number of visits required. Once you understand your treatment plan and feel comfortable moving forward, your doctor will treat you which may include an adjustment. Adjustments are generally performed on a chiropractic table, similar to a massage table. If you are not comfortable with an adjustment, your chiropractor will utilize other therapies to treat you.
- Prevention: Your doctor will help you identify the cause of your condition, whether it is from poor posture, a repetitive strain injury or anything else in between. They will prescribe various exercises and offer lifestyle advice to accompany your treatment plan. The goal is to get you well sooner faster 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 the 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 6-8 visits* on average, 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 to recover.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a chiropractic adjustment?
An adjustment is a calculated force that moves the joint a few millimetres within its normal range of motion. Most chiropractors use their hands to provide adjustments and some use an instrument to perform the treatment such as an activator. 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 are of the utmost importance, so make sure to ask as many questions as you require to feel comfortable. After your adjustment, you may feel some discomfort or fatigue but this should not last more than 24 hours.
Are chiropractic adjustments safe?
Chiropractic adjustments are safe and in fact, chiropractic care is one of the safest forms of treatment. Many studies have 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.
Do chiropractic treatments hurt?
Most patients do not report pain from chiropractic treatments. When a patient arrives at the chiropractor’s office in pain, they are more sensitive which may cause some discomfort while being treated. In many cases, it is the perception of what an adjustment looks and sounds like that may give the impression of the treatment being painful. The treatment itself is nothing more than assisting the joint to move in the manner it should.
Do chiropractors treat more than just back pain?
Work or motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, household chores, and even the stress of daily living can cause painful joint and spinal problems. Some common reasons why more than 4 million Canadians visit a chiropractor each year include:
- Back and neck pain
- Headaches and migraines
- Knee, ankle and foot pain
- Strains and sprains
- TMJ (jaw) pain
- Physical mobility improvement
- Posture correction