Chiropractic Care is a hands-on drug free manual treatment used primarily to treat muscle and joint conditions. There are a number of commonly asked questions about chiropractors and chiropractic care. Below is a list of the most common questions along with the answers
What do chiropractors treat?
Headaches (migraines, tension type, cervicogenic)
Radiating leg and arm pain (sciatica, disc herniations, disc bulges)
Muscle, tendon and ligament sprains/strains
Repetitive or overuse strains/sprains
Rotator cuff problems
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Golfer and tennis elbow
Of course, these are just some of the more common conditions treated.
Will my insurance cover chiropractic? Most extended insurance covers chiropractic care.
What training do chiropractors receive? Chiropractors practicing in Canada have a minimum of seven years of schooling. Like most health care professionals, chiropractors take a minimum 3 years of pre med courses at a university. Following this, they study an additional four years at a chiropractic college. Finally, they write national and provincial board exams before becoming a fully licensed chiropractor.
Is chiropractic safe? In a word, yes. Chiropractic treatments have a very low risk of any serious complications. This is reflected in chiropractic malpractice insurance being amongst the lowest of any health care professional.
What does an adjustment feel like? Usually it feels great. The most common response from a hesitant patient being adjusted for the first time is “That felt great. What was I so worried about?” The majority of patients receive relief immediately following an adjustment while some report it takes an hour or two for the relief to set in.
When I get adjusted I hear a popping sound. What is that? That is the sound of gas moving around the joints. When a joints capsule is stretched it creates a negative pressure causing gas to be released out of the joints lubricating fluid. It doesn’t always happen with every adjustment, but is perfectly normal if it does.
I’ve heard chiropractic neck adjustments aren’t safe. Is this true? This has received a lot of attention in the media and has prompted a large multidisciplinary study in 2008 to determine if there is any truth to it. The issue is whether chiropractic neck adjustments cause people to have a vertebral ischemic attacks or what is commonly known as a stroke. The study found you are just as likely to visit a medical doctor in the days preceding a stroke as they are a chiropractor. In both cases it is very unlikely, less then one in a million. You’re 400 times more likely to have a serious medical problem taking an everyday ibuprofen pill, like Advil™, than you are with chiropractic care.
How many times do I have to come in? It depends on the individual. There are a lot of factors, but the biggest one is how long you’ve had the problem for. Usually new injuries require fewer treatments. Other factors such as the severity of the problem, types of tissue that have been affected, your overall health and your age all factor into your prognosis. It also depends on your goals for the treatment. Some people are happy to reduce their pain from a ten out of ten to a five out of ten while others want to get back to feeling like they did ten years ago.
Do I have to come in forever? No. Some people elect to come in for regular care because they find they feel better after treatment and find it keeps their symptoms from recurring. Others are happy receiving a few treatments and managing at home with stretches and exercises prescribed to them. It’s entirely up to you.
Some people say that once you see a chiropractor you have to keep coming back. This simply is not true. But just as going to the gym once doesn’t make you fit for life, or going to the dentist for a cleaning doesn’t clean your teeth forever, going to a chiropractor doesn’t mean you're guaranteed to be pain free forever.
Will I need x-rays? Occasionally x-rays will be required before treatment can begin. Whether x-rays will be needed will be determined during the initial assessment.
Do I need a referral from my medical doctor? No. Chiropractors are legislated as primary health care professionals meaning you don’t need a referral to see them. However, you may be referred to your medical doctor if your condition requires co-management or if it is out of the scope of what a chiropractor can treat.
References: Cassidy JD. Boyle E, Cote P, et al. Risk of Vertebrobasilar Stroke and Chiropractic Care: Results of a Population-Based, Case-Control and Case-Crossover Study. Spine 2008; 33(4) L S184-91.