Chiropractic treatment is a regulated primary healthcare field focused on diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal issues, by using a non-medical approach.
Treatment typically involves a chiropractor working within the framework of the body’s bones and muscles which make up the musculoskeletal system. The chiropractor will use their hands to make gentle and controlled movements on tissues and joints especially on and around the spine.
Although Chiropractic is typically used to treat conditions such as back aches, neck aches and impaired mobility, it is also frequently used to treat a wider range of conditions including migraines and injuries.
In this article, we shall talk about chiropractic’s origins, the science supporting it, how it can help you, and other useful tips that will prove helpful if you choose to opt for it.
Table of contents
- 5 interesting facts about chiropractic
- What is chiropractic?
- What is the theory behind chiropractic?
- When and how is chiropractic used?
- What is the evidence to support chiropractic?
- What can I expect as a chiropractic patient?
5 interesting facts about chiropractic
What is chiropractic?
When it comes to holistic medicine, chiropractic has certainly earned a name for itself being one of the most populars forms of non-conventional treatment.
Chiropractic is a safe, manual treatment method focused on healing the body by improving the alignment of the musculoskeletal system including the tissues and joints around the spine. It has the advantage of being both a drugless and surgery free form of treatment.
As a holistic therapy, chiropractic treatment will in addition to physical factors, also consider psychological and social factors. This means that chiropractic treatment will also cover lifestyle changes such as exercise, diet and natural alternatives.
Origins of chiropractic
The chiropractic primary healthcare field originated in 1895 when Daniel David Palmer performed a spinal manipulation on a janitor who had injured one of his vertebrae. This incident led Palmer to work on “adjustments” that would relieve people’s pain.
His treatments with the use of hands cured a variety of issues, such as migraine, sciatica, and epilepsy. With time, his practice picked up and is now being used all over the world.
What is the theory behind chiropractic treatment?
Chiropractic treatment focused on relationship between spine and nervous system
The spine is complex, running from the bottom of the skull to the bottom of the back and consists of 24 vertebrae. Spinal nerves branch off from the spinal cord between the vertebrae and spread to every part of the body including muscles, organs and glands.
Chiropractic treatment is focused on the relationship between the structure of the spine and the functioning of the body’s nervous system, and how this relationship impacts the maintenance and restoration of health.
For example, nerve interference caused by misalignment in the spine also known as subluxations can be treated making manual adjustments to the spine.
Chiropractic is rooted in holism
The first guiding principle behind chiropractic is holism.
This means that chiropractic is not focused merely on relieving an individual symptom or cause of a symptom, but also to provide holistic care by treating the patient as a whole and optimising overall health.
Chiropractic practice also believes that the human body has an innate ability and tendency to strive for balance between its external and internal environment.
This ‘balance’ is what chiropractic aims to aid, and it counts and emphasizes your contribution in treating the disease at hand.
When and how is chiropractic treatment applied?
Upon visiting a chiropractor, you can expect your medical history to be taken, along with other standard physical examinations. Special attention is paid to the orthopedic parts of the examination.
The assessment of joints and soft tissues helps determine whether or not a person is the right fit for manual therapies and subsequently, the right course of action for them.
Chiropractic treatment is used in a broad range of situations
While it is mostly famous for back and neck issues, chiropractic treats a myriad of issues in one of the most non-invasive ways. For instance, it can be helpful if repetitive strain has given you permanent body aches.
Other issues it can treat include:
- injuries caused by accidents
- sports injuries
- leg pain
- arthritic pain
- shoulder pain
Chiropractic uses a range of treatments and techniques
Chiropractic isn’t limited to just a few techniques. Broadly speaking, there are three treatment categories:
- manual treatment through joint manipulation or soft tissue massage
- prescription of exercise, and
- recommendation on lifestyle changes.
Manual treatment techniques include
- Applying short, sharp thrusts to the spine to remove joint restrictions and improve mobility
- Moving joints gradually through different positions to relieve tension
- Stretching and pulling muscles in different directions to strengthen muscle tissue and improve mobility
By incorporating exercise and lifestyle changes, chiropractic aims to become a holistic treatment method, in which you are actively involved in your healing.
What is the evidence to support chiropractic treatment?
Various studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of chiropractic and health advantages it has compared to conventional treatment (1).
A two year study by UK’s Medical Research Council, found that chiropractic treatment was a more effective treatment for lower back pain compared to conventional medicine with patients who underwent chiropractic treatment found to suffer less pain years later (2).
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) also recommends chiropractic for persistent lower back pain issues (3).
Chiropractic treatment is also significantly safer than conventional treatments for certain conditions such as back pain. This is largely due to the fact that it does not involve drugs or invasive procedures.
What’s more, effective treatment is not restricted to injuries, joint/muscle aches, back and neck-aches. The evidence shows that patients with other conditions such as respiratory conditionals, gastrointestinal disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure and emotional problems have also responded well to chiropractic treatments (4).
What can I expect as a chiropractic patient?
Let’s have a look at some important points to consider when opting for chiropractic treatment.
The chiropractic consultation
Your first consultation will involve a detailed assessment of your lifestyle and health. The chiropractor will first ask detailed questions on your lifestyle, diet and medical history.
The consultation will also include a physical examination primarily focused on your spine structure and posture.
Depending on your situation, tests such as CT scans or X-rays may also be conducted. They would help your chiropractor closely monitor the issue and give therapy accordingly.
Upon completion of the first consultation, your chiropractor will devise a personalised treatment plan to suit your needs.
How do I find a chiropractor?
Although holistic therapies are generally not available on the NHS, chiropractic is an exception. However, use of such treatments on the NHS is still somewhat limited and differs from area to area. As such, many patients end up opting to be treated privately.
Contrary to most holistic therapies, Chiropractic practice is regulated in the UK and all chiropractors must be registered with and hold a recognised qualification from the General Chiropractic Council which regulates the profession.
The Chiropractors Act 1994 provides statutory regulation for the chiropractic, also making it a criminal offence for anyone not registered with the General Chiropractic Council to call themselves a chiropractor.
You can also use Treatwiser’s directory to find a chiropractor near me. Use the search features to narrow your search by location, professional body membership status, and more.
What is the difference between a chiropractor and an osteopath?
When choosing chiropractic, it is important to remember the subtle differences that exist between a chiropractor and an osteopath.
Chiropractors tend to be focused more on the spine and the relationship its alignment has with the nervous system and overall health. This means that treatment will largely involve manual manipulation to adjust position of the spine and joints. On the other hand, osteopaths employ a broader approach and range of techniques, assessing the functioning of the body as a whole to improve posture and alignment. The length of a typical consultation is also longer than for chiropractic.
It is important to note that both professions are regulated in the UK and so unlike most other holistic therapies, practitioners will need to be registered with their corresponding regulatory council. body.
How much will it cost?
While you can still check and confirm with the NHS, limited chiropractic treatments are available on it. This means that you would have to opt for private treatment ranging anywhere from £30 to £80 pounds per session typically lasting up to 30 minutes.
How many appointments will I need?
When your sessions begin, your chiropractor doctor would help you determine the number of appointments needed. Each individual is unique and so the sessions would be set according to your requirements driven by medical history and severity of condition.
It is typical however to require anywhere from 3 to 12 sessions including regular maintenance therapy once initial condition has been treated.
Do chiropractic treatments hurt?
Generally speaking, chiropractic isn’t supposed to hurt. However, an existing swelling might make the treatment area susceptible to pain. Trained chiropractors would alter the treatment plan accordingly to ensure that your sessions are not painful.
Popping or clicking noises are quite normal during treatment sessions, and you shouldn’t be worried about them.
What are the major risks associated with chiropractic treatments?
Chiropractic treatment is generally safe when conducted by a qualified practitioner. That said, there are still some risks to be wary of including the possibility of side effects – however these are rare.
Chiropractic is generally not recommended for patients who already suffer from inflammatory spine conditions, recently formed fractures or severe osteoporosis.
Your chiropractic therapist is best able to guide you and determine the most suitable treatment plan for you based on your situation and medical history. It is important to share details of any medication as these may contradict some treatment.
Chiropractic involves manual therapies on people with musculoskeletal issues such as neck and back aches and mobility issues.
During treatment sessions, a chiropractor would use various techniques to fix misaligned bones that have caused the particular disease or issue.
Resources and further chiropractic information
2. T.W. Meade et al. “Low Back Pain of Mechanical Origin: Randomised Comparison of Chiropractic and Hospital Outpatient Treatment.” British Medical Journal 300:6737 (June 1999), 1431-1437
4. N. Altman. Everybody’s Guide to Chiropractic Health Care (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1990).
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