At Woden Wellness Centre we often get asked questions about chiropractic care.
A selection of ‘frequently asked questions is answered below. Hopefully, the answers are informative and helpful with some of the queries you have about your health and chiropractic care. The answers may also assist you to educate others who have asked you “Why do you go to the chiropractor?”.
What is a chiropractic adjustment?
On your first visit, you probably noticed a few things –
- it was comprehensive,
- the treatment was gentle, and
- the visit was aimed at gathering as much information about your general health and lifestyle as possible.
Chiropractors analyse and improve the biomechanics in the spine and pelvis. Changes in normal alignment and motion of the vertebrae can place stress on your musculoskeletal system. This can manifest as pain and, as a result, decrease your general health and ability to enjoy life.
A chiropractic adjustment is a method by which a Chiropractor corrects or improves the biomechanics and movement of your spine. There are many different ways to adjust the spine. Our chiropractor uses a range of low force techniques which are modified to suit each patient. Above all these techniques are gentle and safe and may not involve ‘twisting and cracking of the spine.
An adjustment is different from manipulation.
An adjustment is always given to an area of the spine that is not moving well and, for that reason, has become biomechanically compromised. This is not necessarily an area that hurts. Only a small percentage of the nervous system receives and reports pain. For this reason, you may have an impaired area of your spine with decreased movement and function and yet have no pain.
Popping or cracking the spine is not the same as an adjustment. Although some audible sounds may accompany some adjustments, the sound is not related to the success of an adjustment.
An adjustment is not painful. During treatment, the injured area may feel uncomfortable when it is touched, stretched and moved. The objective of treatment, however, is to reduce your pain.
Is chiropractic low-risk?
Yes, Chiropractic is very low-risk. Chiropractic is a conservative approach to health that avoids invasive procedures and addictive drugs.
The Australian Chiropractors Association describe the risks associated with chiropractic as follows:
Published studies and reports through the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme show that chiropractic is a low-risk health modality.
The techniques our chiropractor uses to adjust the spine are highly accurate, and low force with the aim to improve spinal function.
A Chiropractor trains for 5 years at University to learn how to identify and correct misalignments of the spine that interfere with joint and muscle function. These courses are of similar length and depth as medical courses. Chiropractic courses focus strongly on anatomy, physiology, pathology, neurology, x-ray, biomechanics as well as adjustment techniques. Chiropractic courses also require extensive practice hours. Doctors of chiropractic have a thorough understanding of, and the ability to treat spinal health issues.
Chiropractors must be registered with AHPRA. AHPRA is a body of the Australian Government that monitors all health professionals. To keep up to date with advances in chiropractic and healthcare, chiropractors are required to attend continuing education seminars, workshops, and conferences.
In relation to the treatment of neck and back pain, studies have shown that a course of chiropractic care was 250 times safer than a course of anti-inflammatory drugs. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1995 Oct;18(8):530-6. A risk assessment of cervical manipulation vs. NSAIDs for the treatment of neck pain. Dabbs V, Lauretti WJ.
What results can I expect?
That’s probably the most difficult question to answer. It is also why your first visit is so comprehensive.
Let’s just think for a bit about what you do every day. Do you sit for long periods, are you in a stressful environment, does your work involve manual labour or repetitive movement, do you or have you played a lot of contact sports, have you ever experienced falls, sports injuries or motor vehicle accidents, how old are you, were you born with any spinal or structural abnormalities, do you have flat feet or do you excessively over-pronate, do you have knee or hip issues? The list is endless but all these factors and more will impact the results you get from any type of health care including chiropractic care.
So, while every person’s experience is different most people experience some degree of relief not long after starting chiropractic care. These benefits usually continue to increase as care continues.
“Many of these consequences are preventable by regular spinal examinations and/or corrective care.” Dishman, RW. Static and dynamic components of the chiropractic subluxation complex: A literature review. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1988 (11)2:267-280.
Timeframes of improvement are usually based on how long the problem has been developing. If you have had an issue for many years it is probably not going to resolve within days or weeks of treatment. Some problems require ongoing management. You use your spine every day and like your teeth or your car, your spine requires regular maintenance. Research has shown that chiropractic care is more effective and economical for disorders of the spine than other forms of health care.
How will I know if the adjustment worked?
Usually, it is fairly easy to tell as you will generally feel better, straighter, lighter and freer (terms often used by our patients) after an adjustment. This is because a chiropractic adjustment results in a measurable reduction in stress on the musculoskeletal system as a result of correcting the underlying biomechanics in the spine.
Long-term indications that your adjustments have worked include things like improvements in your posture (being able to stand up taller or straighter), better motion throughout the spine, improved balance and strength within your muscle groups, along with objective changes in the range of motion identified during your follow up examination results.
Why don’t I feel any different after an adjustment?
Initially, you may have come into our office seeking help for a spinal or joint-related problem. You may have been in considerable pain or have had the issue for a considerable time.
Each chiropractic treatment works gently and gradually to reduce as much stress as possible from your musculoskeletal system as well as slowly reduce your symptoms. Furthermore, this may retrain your biomechanics into a better way of being. This doesn’t always equate to feeling different after each treatment, but may help your body to function and move better.
You may not immediately be aware of the change that has occurred as it takes time for your body to adapt to the correction. Also, many of the improvements are not able to be felt.
Issues with your spine and joints are often accompanied by inflammation and soft tissue damage, which will take time to heal. As the scar tissue and inflammation reduce, the structure of your spine may change. Thus, improvements in spinal mobility are made. Each treatment moves you slowly and steadily toward better health.
“Triano notes that spine tissues are dependent on regular movement to retain their integrity.” Henderson, C. The basis for spinal manipulation: Chiropractic perspective of indications and theory. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2012;22(5):63-74.
How often will I need treatment?
This is another difficult question to answer again because everyone is different.
Generally, we find that people who come in with considerable pain that has been present for a number of weeks and been developing for a while, require care twice a week for three to six weeks in order for their pain to resolve and their condition to stabilise. This is a general guideline. The factors in the section above, “what results I can expect?” outline the difficulty in giving an exact answer to this question. Treatment frequency will also depend on how much soft tissue damage and inflammation is present.
Sometimes I require very few adjustments. Why is that?
Every time you come into the office your –
- progress is assessed,
- the entire spine is checked, and
- rehabilitation exercises and stretches will be reviewed.
As your condition improves you may require fewer adjustments. This is because the biomechanics of your spine has improved. Sometimes, however, you may experience a setback or just a bad day where we find you need extra adjustments.
You will also undergo regular re-examinations so you can clearly and objectively see the overall improvements that chiropractic care has made to your musculoskeletal health.
Can I speed up my recovery?
Everyone wants the best results in the shortest amount of time.
There is a very specific process your body will go through as it heals and as mentioned above the timeframe for this can vary from person to person.
When appropriate, specific corrective mobility, strengthening and stabilising exercises will be prescribed. Some clients also benefit from the help of a registered remedial massage therapist or clinical nutritional supplements.
One recommendation included for everyone is to have regular, low-level movement in your day. We would recommend for every 30 minutes that you sit, get up and move for 2 minutes. Research clearly shows that regular movement breaks actually increases your productivity.
Being diligent and following the recommendations given to you by your chiropractor and making time to attend your scheduled appointments is the best way to get results.
How long will I need to keep going to the chiropractor?
The answer to this depends on what you want from chiropractic care and also how long you want to have a healthy spine. It is up to you. We will always recommend the frequency of care that we feel will give you the best results. General, we find we encounter three different types of patients.
People who have permanent spinal problems either neglected from childhood, from an accident, injury or as a result of repetitive work practices may require ongoing supportive chiropractic care. This is due to the long-term effects on local soft tissue damage, muscle weakening as well as degenerative changes. If you are in this group of patients, discontinuing care may lead to a relapse of your original symptoms. This is because the underlying damage is, to some degree, permanent. It may also require regular maintenance treatment.
People living busy lives, being very active and seeking better health outcomes often find a schedule of preventative care to be optimal to support these lifestyle choices. These people are proactive with their health. They recognise that if you want your spine to be healthy you have to look after it and as a result, they choose to have regular chiropractic check-ups.
Some patients seek a more symptomatic management type of care. This means they only seek chiropractic care when the pain or other symptoms become intolerable.
Will I require an X-Ray?
Our chiropractor will assess your spinal health. As a result, he will determine whether spinal x-rays are necessary. This is based on your history and physical examination.
Our chiropractor will refer you for x-rays if required. Generally, the Medicare system covers the costs of spinal x-rays.
Do I need a referral from a GP?
For private patients, a referral is not necessary from a GP, as chiropractors are primary healthcare practitioners.
Care under worker’s compensation or third-party accident insurance requires a medical doctor’s referral and also, a letter of acceptance from the insurance company. Please bring this information to your first visit.
GPs in Canberra are referring to chiropractors via the Enhanced Primary Care Program (EPC). This program allows up to five chiropractic visits where you can claim a percentage of the chiropractic fee back under the Medicare system. The EPC program is for people who have chronic as well as longstanding spinal issues. Ask your local GP for more information.