Chiropractic is an alternative medicine treatment technique that helps to diagnose and treat a range of disorders within the musculoskeletal system focussing on the spine. The idea behind the discovery of chiropractic is that such disorders affect a person’s general health via the nervous system and that manual therapy of the spine, joints and soft tissue can relieve back and neck pain caused by injuries and accidents. Exercise as well as health and lifestyle advice may also be a part of your chiropractic care.
Established in the United States, chiropractic is now also well-established in Australia and Canada where it overlaps with other manual-therapy professions such as physical therapy. Helping patients with low back and neck pain, chiropractic care is designed to improve your body’s nervous system, increase mobility and encourage self-healing and self-regulation.
Your chiropractor is the qualified professional who can help diagnose and treat your low back or neck pain. Rather than simply easing the pain and increasing your comfort level every so often, a chiropractor will help determine the root cause of said pain by assessing your spinal and nervous system function.
This will be done by carrying out a thorough medical history to determine a personalised treatment plan designed to allow optimal nervous system control and a better well-being. Chiropractic diagnosis may often include observational and tactile assessments as well as diagnostic tests including x-ray and MRI. You may also be referred to a specialist who will help co-manage your disorder or pain.
There is a large range of therapies a chiropractor may use to help treat your spine depending on what your diagnosis is. The most common chiropractic treatments include spine manipulation, manual tissue therapy, transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) and ultrasound paired with nutritional counselling and some stretches or exercises.
Therapeutic exercises are designed to strengthen your neck and back while decreasing pain, preventing muscle deterioration and promoting joint health. Your chiropractic from Gonnet Chiropractic will show you how to perform the exercise and prescribe a number of times this exercise should be carried out each day. It’s important to keep up with these exercises to heal faster. Your chiropractor may also recommend a few therapeutic stretches following an injury to prevent scar tissue from forming. Even when your injury has healed, these stretches are important for maintaining flexible tissue, mobility and preventing new injuries.
If you are experiencing severe pain, a TENS unit (a small, battery-powered muscle stimulation machine) may be recommended to help control the pain. A therapeutic ultrasound can be applied to soft tissue and joints to increase blood flow and reduce swelling with the heat therapy created by the sound waves. Ice therapy is an alternative to reduce swelling while heat therapy can relax the muscles.
A spinal adjustment (or chiropractic adjustment as it is also known) is a chiropractic treatment method invented in the 19th century to correct the alignment, motion and function of a vertebral joint. The procedure includes a trained specialist (i.e. your chiropractor) using their hands or a small instrument to apply a controlled yet sudden force to the spinal joint.
During the treatment, your chiropractor may ask you to sit or lay down in certain position to treat a particular area. When the chiropractor applies the force, you may hear popping or cracking as your joints move – this is completely normal as the movement creates a change in the pressure inside the joint surface.
Chiropractic adjustments and other treatment techniques are very safe, offering a non-surgery, drug-free alternative to surgeries and medication. Doctors of chiropractic are specially trained for this and go through years of study to receive their qualification. However, like all medical treatments, there are certain risks and side effects of receiving chiropractic adjustments. Serious complications are quite rare however it may lead to a herniated disc, compression of nerves and a certain type of stroke after a neck manipulation treatment.
It is recommended that you do not seek chiropractic adjustment if you have severe osteoporosis, numbness in one arm or leg, cancer in your spine, an increased risk of stroke or a known bone abnormality in the upper neck. After the treatment, you may experience some minor side effects such as headaches, fatigue or pain in the part of the body that was treated.
On your first visit, you will start off by filling out an intake form which will briefly go through what the problem, some medical history, and some personal details such as name, date of birth. Then the chiropractor will discuss your issue or complaint as well as your history. Then from there, the chiropractor will perform some ranges of motion of your spine and joint, a gait analysis, and some orthopaedic tests to identify the source or cause of the complaint. Then the chiropractor may or may not require an x-ray depending on the findings of the physical exam. After this, the chiropractor will discuss their findings and the cause of your complaint and their recommended treatment plan.