Often patients will come to chiropractors with a preconceived idea of what we do. Chiropractic training is a 5 year degree which in most states is a masters degree during the final 2 years. This includes intensive scientific study in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, body physics, differential diagnosis, chiropractic technique, treatment modalities and radiology among many others.
The degree focuses on treatment of musculo-skeletal disorders. You can take this to mean a chiropractor focuses on treating muscular, and skeletal disorders of the WHOLE body which includes the tendons, ligaments and spinal structures as well as all other parts of the body; foot, ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand included.
Chiropractic has traditionally treated the spine and nervous system as the original philosophy was that removing interference on the nervous system allowed the body to function and heal itself better. While evidence tells us that a healthy nervous system has profound benefits and this can certainly be beneficial, this is not the modern day philosophy of chiropractic.
Chiropractic is concerned with treating the individual and looking at the whole function of the body . If the body has an imbalanced spine or muscular function pattern then these imbalances (such as poor posture and a forward head translation) can translate to other aches and pains (such as sore shoulder muscles or a sore low back due to the translation of pressure being spread to other parts of the body).
Confusion can arise based on other people’s perceptions. Many medical doctors for example are still taught in school the original philosophy of chiropractic which can be related to chiropractic being used for treating conditions such as asthma, bed wetting and a loss of hearing (as the first chiropractic philosophy suggested). Since chiropractic has been a regulated profession with solid evidence behind the techniques this original philosophy from 1985 has been dismissed by the majority of the chiropractic population.
Further to this, a chiropractor is taught many of the techniques a physiotherapist or osteopath has been taught (for example ultrasound, traction, massage techniques, TENS and rehabilitation) however a chiropractor based on his or her preference and the tools they have available amongst the best available evidence will often find a technique and specialize. This does not mean that a chiropractor can not treat a sprained ankle, it simply means that some chiropractors will not advertise their practice for treating sprained ankles as they have formed a niche around a technique for back pain that they probably treat very well!
And finally, the misconception is often there that a chiropractor is too heavy handed, or perhaps that a chiropractor did too little.
Techniques again can vary from chiropractor to chiropractor. One chiropractor may prefer to adjust manually, another may use a drop table, and another may use a very gentle instrument called an “activator”. Many chiropractors have all available but will prefer to use a particular technique based on what they think will benefit you the most. If you have had a bad experience with a chiropractor then please let the chiropractor know. Just remember, we are here to help and if your body has reacted badly to a particular type of care in the past then the likelihood is that it may have the same reaction again, something neither you or the chiropractor would like to see.
When it comes to your body, you’re the boss and patient preference is key when returning you to good health.
Yours in health,