What is Chiropractic?
One of the largest primary-contact health care professions in Ontario, chiropractic is a non-invasive, hands-on health care discipline that focuses on the neuromusculoskeletal system.
Chiropractors practice a manual approach, providing diagnosis, treatment and preventative care for disorders related to the spine, pelvis, nervous system and joints.
Chiropractors use a combination of treatments, all of which are predicated on the specific needs of the individual patient. After taking a complete history and diagnosing a patient, a chiropractor can develop and carry out a comprehensive treatment/management plan, recommend therapeutic exercise and other non-invasive therapies, and provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counselling.
For many conditions, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care is frequently the primary method of treatment. Where other conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the neuromusculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition.
Chiropractic care may also be used to provide symptomatic relief for patients with chronic conditions. According to patient surveys, by treating the neuromusculoskeletal elements of such disorders, chiropractic treatment has been shown to improve the general well-being of the patient.
There are many reasons to seek chiropractic care:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Strains and sprains
- Repetitive strain injury (RSI)
- Work and sports injuries
- Limited range of motion in the back, shoulder, neck or limbs
- General health and well-being
Chiropractic is a regulated health profession, recognized by statute in all Canadian provinces and American states. More than 1.2 million patients in Ontario rely on chiropractic care every year to help them live healthy, active lives.
Who are Chiropractors?
A Doctor of Chiropractic has spent four years at an accredited chiropractic institution, receiving more than 4,200 hours of specialized clinical training.
The chiropractic curriculum at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, in Toronto, includes studies in anatomy, pathology, bio mechanics, chiropractic principles, diagnosis and adjustment techniques.
As primary care practitioners, chiropractors can develop and carry out a comprehensive treatment / management plan, recommend therapeutic exercise and other non-invasive therapies, and provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counselling.
Chiropractors are one of only five classes of health care professionals in Ontario that are able to use the title Doctor, with its accompanying rights and obligations.
Chiropractic is regulated by provincial statute. Each province has a regulatory college, established by legislation in the same manner and with the same structure and similar regulations as the regulatory bodies for other health care professions.
Regulatory colleges are responsible for protecting the public, setting standards of practice, assuring quality of care is maintained, evaluating and promoting competency and handling disciplinary issues. Ontario’s chiropractors are regulated and licensed by the College of Chiropractors of Ontario.
Visiting a Chiropractor
What to expect on your first visit
Your chiropractor may be treating your back pain, neck pain, headache, or other aches and pains, but he or she needs a complete picture of your health history and overall current health in order to provide the best possible treatment for you.
Set aside at least 30 minutes for your first visit to the chiropractor. Future visits typically last 15 minutes or less, though the time required will depend upon the type of treatment you require. Here’s what you might expect.
On your first visit, your chiropractor may ask about the following:
- personal and family medical history
- major illnesses you have experienced
- surgeries or operations you have had
- medications you are taking
- a description of your present condition
- the steps you have taken to manage your condition
- your diet and exercise
- your sleeping habits, daily activities, work routine, stress level, and home life
It is a good idea to wear comfortable clothes and shoes for your visit to the chiropractor. Your chiropractor may ask you to change into a gown to perform some of these tests:
- a check of your blood pressure, pulse and breathing
- a test of your reflexes, strength and sensations
- an analysis of your posture
- an X-ray of your spine
- an analysis of your movement — he/she will observe how you walk, turn, bend or lift things, as well as how your body moves in the affected area hands-on evaluation of how well your spine moves, identifying restrictions and areas of improper motion
Bring a copy of any X-rays or radiology reports you have. These assessments give your chiropractor a better picture of your complete health. He or she will make a diagnosis, prescribe a course of treatment, and once the matter of informed consent has been discussed, treatment usually begins.
If your chiropractor diagnoses a condition more appropriately treated by another health care professional, he or she will make a referral.
Stages of care:
- Relief care is provided for relief of immediate pain, restricted mobility and discomfort. Depending on the diagnosis, your age, physical condition, how long you have had the current complaint, and previous injuries, a few or several visits over a relatively short period of time may be necessary.
- Corrective care treats conditions that are more severe, recurring or that have existed with or without pain for some time. These may require a longer, more complex period of care. Once the severity of your condition has decreased through relief care, corrective care helps to restore normal function to your spine, muscles, supporting tissues and the nerves affected by them.
- Supportive or maintenance care helps you maintain and preserve the benefits you’ve achieved from relief and corrective care. Chiropractors are also trained to detect conditions in their early stages, often before you feel pain or reduced mobility. Continuing to work with your chiropractor and having periodic spinal check-ups and treatments, if needed, will keep your spine as healthy as possible. Your chiropractor will work with you to find a maintenance schedule that suits your condition, health care goals, and lifestyle.
Your treatment from the chiropractor, regardless of the stage of care, will often include exercise, diet and other healthy living suggestions to help keep you healthy and strong.
Your chiropractor will discuss a schedule of care, which will depend on your specific circumstances. For some people chiropractic treatment is like a regular tune-up, to help deal with the daily wear and tear of life. For others, it’s simply an effective treatment when pain or discomfort strikes.
Take the time to discuss with your chiropractor the treatment plan that’s best for you.
- for more information, visit the Ontario Chiropractic Association website