What do Chiropractors Do?
Chiropractors diagnose, treat and help prevent conditions and disorders related to muscles, bones, joints and nerves.
As primary care practitioners, chiropractors can develop and carry out a comprehensive treatment and management plan, which may include manual therapy, exercise, and nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counselling.
Chiropractic care may compliment or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with other conditions.
The main form of treatment chiropractors deliver is called an adjustment – a highly skilled and precise movement usually applied by hand to a joint of the body. Adjustments loosen the joint to restore proper movement and optimize function.
Chiropractors may also utilize a wide range of other manual therapies as well as heat, laser and ultrasound. A chiropractor does not prescribe drugs or perform surgery, but may make a referral to medical specialists for such treatment when appropriate.
After completing 3 to 4 years of undergraduate studies at a university chiropractors spend another 4 years at an accredited chiropractic institution. The chiropractic curriculum at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto includes studies in anatomy, pathology, biomechanics, chiropractic principles, diagnosis and adjustment techniques.
Chiropractors are one of only five classes of health care professionals in Ontario that are able to use the title ‘Doctor,’ with its accompanying rights and obligations.
Questions About Visiting a Chiropractor?
What to Expect on Your First Visit
Your chiropractor needs a full understanding of your health history and overall current health in order to provide the best possible care for you.
Set aside at least 30-45 mins for your first visit to a chiropractor. Future visits typically last 15 minutes or less, though the time required will depend upon the type of treatment you require. Here’s what you might expect.
On your first visit, your chiropractor may ask about the following:
- a description of your present condition and how it’s affecting your daily life
- the steps you have taken to manage your condition
- personal and family medical history
- major illnesses you have experienced
- surgeries you have had
- medications and supplements you are taking
- your diet and exercise
- your sleeping habits, daily activities, work
- routine, stress level, and home life
It is a good idea to wear comfortable clothes and shoes for your visit to the chiropractor. Your chiropractor may ask you to change into a gown to perform some of these tests:
a check of your blood pressure, pulse and breathing
a test of your reflexes, strength and sensations
an analysis of your movement — he/she will observe how you walk, turn, bend or lift things, as well as how your body moves in the affected area
a hands-on evaluation of how well your joints, muscles and other tissues are moving, identifying restrictions and areas of improper motion
Tip: Bring a copy of any X-rays or radiology reports you have. These assessments give your chiropractor a better picture of your complete health. He or she will make a diagnosis, discuss options and recommendations for treatment, and once the matter of informed consent has been discussed, treatment usually begins.
If your chiropractor diagnoses a condition more appropriately treated by another health care professional, he or she will make a referral.
What to Expect After Your First Visit
When Should I See a Chiropractor?
Eight out of ten Canadians will experience back pain at some point in their life, and at least one third of people in Ontario will have back pain at any given time. Many more people experience other problems with their muscles, bones, joints and nerves. For many people, the pain can keep them away from work, school or even their day-to-day activities. If these cause interruptions and restrictions in the activities of your daily life then you should consult a chiropractor.
Chiropractors are highly educated and extensively trained to assess, diagnosis, treat and prevent conditions disorders of the muscles, bones, joints and nerves. These disorders may include back pain, neck pain, headaches, referred pain in your arms and legs and more.
Many patients seek chiropractic treatment for wellness care. Others, like seniors, find that treatment helps them to maintain mobility and good range of motion.
There are many reasons to see a chiropractor: work strains, accidents, sports injuries, household chores, even the stress of daily living can cause painful joint and spinal problems. Even if you do not have painful symptoms, chiropractic can help you maintain healthy spine and joint function.
Here are some of the most common reasons why more than 4 million Canadians visit a chiropractor each year:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Strains and sprains from daily activities
- Repetitive strain injuries
- Work and sports-related injuries
- Restricted movement in the back, shoulders, neck or limbs
- General health and well-being
Chiropractic care may:
- Improve movement in your neck, shoulders, back and torso
- Improve your posture
- Provide relief from headaches, neck and back pain
- Help prevent work-related muscle and joint injuries
- Lead to enhanced athletic performance
- Improve your flexibility and range of motion
- Relieve pregnancy-related back ache
- Correct gait and foot problems
Questions about Safety and Consent?
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.
Most patients experience immediate relief after treatment. However, some people may experience temporary pain, stiffness or slight swelling. Some patients may also experience temporary dizziness, local numbness, or radiating pain. However, these effects are usually rare and short-lived.
A chiropractor will use the information from your history and exam to recommend the most appropriate treatment option for your needs.
Prior to starting treatment, all health professionals are required by law to obtain informed consent to treatment from their patients. You have a right to receive adequate and accurate information to help you evaluate your health care choices and balance the relative risks of treatment options with the benefits. It is important to discuss any questions or concerns that you have prior to any treatment. If you do not feel comfortable with any recommended course of treatment you should always ask for alternate options.
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