What is chiropractic?
Chiropractic is safe, gentle, effective and the third largest health care system in the world. Doctors of Chiropractic have undertaken an intense 4-5 year University degree course in order to practise Chiropractic and also need to be registered with the General Chiropractic Council to practise in the UK. Chiropractic works on realigning the spine to its optimum position and improving function and mobility. No drugs, therapy or treatment can heal as only a healthy body has the ability to heal itself. The spine is designed to house your nervous system, therefore misalignments and dysfunction can have serious effects on entire body.
How do I know whether I need to see a chiropractor?
Everyone should get their spine checked regularly. Only 10% of your nerves perceive pain, the other 90% are what makes your body function. It is possible to have misalignments and dysfunction of the spine and feel little pain or symptoms. By the time someone is in severe pain, spinal problems can be quite advanced. Just as a heart attack is not the first sign of heart problems.
What is a Subluxation (Misalignment/Biomechanical lesion)
Historically from when Chiropractic was first founded in 1895, the word Vertebral Subluxation has been utilised and refers to a slight misalignment or biomechanical dysfunction of the vertebrae can cause nerve interference causing pain and dysfunction in muscles, joints, ligaments and other tissue, as well as disrupting the function of the entire body. Since 2010 the General Chiropractic Council has advised that all Chiropractors in the UK not use Vertebral Subluxation as there is not enough evidence to back this up. The preferred change of term is Biomechanical dysfuntion or Biomechanical lesion.
What causes a Biomechanical lesion?
A fall, injury, car accident, or sometimes genetically inherited spinal weakness can cause a vertebra to be displaced. Other causes include excessive stress, poor posture, bad sleeping habits, bad exercise/stretching techniques, repetitive and occupational strain.
How is a Biomechanical lesion corrected?
Doctors of chiropractic are trained to restore the misaligned vertebrae to its normal function. In order to do this a chiropractor use their hands to apply a specific, high velocity, low amplitude thrust to the affected area. This specific treatment is called an adjustment or spinal manipulation and is a very skillful manoever learned through vigorous training at University. A chiropractor may also use special tables, wedges and instruments to adjust the spine. The safest and most effective way is decided upon after a thorough examination.
Does an adjustment hurt?
Most people find having an adjustment quite relaxing. In cases of acute trauma people may experience some discomfort may be experienced due to injury and inflammation. Some adjustments may cause a popping or cracking sound which is simply caused by a gas released from the joint as spinal motion is restored.
Is the adjustment safe?
As with any form of health care there are some minor and rare risks. Some people may experience slight soreness as the restricted areas loosen and body begins to realign. This is usually very mild and only lasts a short time. Detailed research has shown that you have a greater chance of being injured while driving your car to your chiropractor than you do having an adjustment. Chiropractor's indemnity insurance is among the lowest for health professionals which is an indication of the safety.
How do I know if my spine is unhealthy?
Without a lot of pain it can be difficult to know if your spine is healthy or not. Some warning signs may include:
• Your shoes wear out
• You can't take a satisfying deep breath
• You jaw "clicks"
• You have to "crack" your neck, back or other joints a lot
• You can't twist or turn your head or hips to either side equally and easily
• Your foot flares out when you walk
• One leg appears shorter than the other
• You have poor posture
• You have headaches, back aches, sore or tender spots in muscle or joints
• You have a constant stressful feeling and tension especially in muscles and joints
• You feel stiffness in your back and neck
• You just don't feel right
Why is the spine important?
The spine is the framework, which supports and protects the spinal cord. Most of the nerves pass from the spinal cord through small openings in the spine to various muscles, organs, bones and even the skin.
The spine is made up of 24 moveable bones, 23 discs (which act as shock absorbers and allow movement to occur), and has attachments for 12 pairs of ribs and hundreds of ligaments and muscles, 31 pairs of nerves exit the spine.
Because of the spine's complexity, its normal movements are easily disrupted. Falls, incorrect lifting, stress, repetitive movements and faulty posture may cause disruption to the normal mechanics of the spine. These areas of abnormal movement are what chiropractors call Biomechanical lesions.
Biomechanical lesions have several possible components: disrupted joint movement and muscle spasm or weakness either at the site of the lesion or nearby. This is often but not always related to pain and inflammation. Biomechanical lesions are very common and do not always produce pain or other obvious symptoms. Spinal degeneration can occur with chronic dysfunction, especially if biomechanical lesions are not corrected by a chiropractor.
How do chiropractors treat me?
Before the spine can be adjusted, the chiropractor needs to know details of past medical history, any accidents and current lifestyle (diet, exercise).
A thorough examination may include a postural evaluation, specific spinal analysis, orthopedic and neurological testing, electromyography and thermography. X-rays may be taken not only to evaluate the condition and alignment of the spine, but also to help rule out any underlying disease.
How is my chiropractor educated?
Chiropractors must complete a 5-year double degree at university and as such are primary health care providers. This means that like your general practitioner (GP) they have a comprehensive knowledge of all systems of the body and diagnostic procedures. This enables the chiropractor to thoroughly assess the patient, take and analyse X-rays and refer the patient to the appropriate provider if necessary.
Do I have to see a chiropractor forever?
No but many patients once pain free feel that attending the clinic once every 4-6 weeks benefits them and this vastly reduces the likelihood of the symptoms returning unexpectedly.
Frequently asked questions