What do Chiropractors do?

Chiropractors are 5-year university trained health care professionals who focus on the relationship between your spine and the nervous system that it transports through your body and how this relationship between the two effect your experience of pain, the function of your nervous system, your ability to perform your daily activities and your general wellbeing/health.  Chiropractors relieve pain and its associated symptoms by restoring spinal joint movements with gentle specific manipulations called “adjustments”. Chiropractors also offer exercise and lifestyle advice, which is individually tailored to each case, to aid recovery and as a preventative care.

What is my Chiropractors training?

Australian trained chiropractors all attend five-year university degrees, in which they undergo rigorous health science education at an undergraduate level and then specialised training in the diagnosis and management of all human systems, with an emphasis on spinal and neurological disorders in their Masters degree program. Chiropractors are among the small number of health practitioners who can use the courtesy title of Dr. Chiropractors are registered by the Australian Health Professionals Registration Authority, like all other professionals, to ensure they are of the necessary academic standard and maintain their continual academic education requirements.

What is an adjustment?

Most of our chiropractic work on spine-related problems involves specific joint manipulations that we call “adjustments” on the areas in your spine that we find not to be moving properly. These adjustments involve short-distance but fast movements of joints in the neck, mid-back or low back to restore relaxed, pain-free movements. This in turn leads to a balancing of muscle tone, greater mobility and usually some immediate pain relief.

Other effects of the adjustment can include a greater range of pain free movement with better muscle control and improved coordination. Nerve referral of pain can reduce and improved feeling to an arm or leg can return, but this usually occurs over a series of treatments.

As things improve with further treatments, home exercise and postural advice can be given. This helps with settling your condition and aids in allowing you to return to the enjoyable activities that you may have put on hold.

Do adjustments hurt?

As a general rule, adjustments are relatively painless, however if you present in severe pain there may be some discomfort in correcting the problem initially, however this usually quickly resolves

Why do adjustments need to be done?

Our modern sedentary lifestyle, falls and injuries results in our spinal joints moving incorrectly, this results in the experience of pain, muscle tension, joint stiffness and eventual spinal joint degeneration. Adjustments re-establish correct movement and allow the body to move correctly and alleviates the symptoms that spinal issues cause.

Are all patients adjusted the same way?

Every patient’s spine is unique and each adjustment is performed differently according to the patient’s age, their spines health, their medications and their problem. Our chiropractors use a range of techniques including manual adjustments and the use of gentle drop table or activator adjustments.

What is the “click”?

During an adjustment, sometimes a “click or pop” may be felt or heard. This “cavitation” is due to fluid in the joint popping and turning into gas in the joint space, making the click sound. The click is not due to bone hitting on bone and like clicking your knuckles is generally painless. However unlike the old wives tale that it will cause arthritis or wear the joint out, the truth is that restoring normal joint movement by adjusting it inhibits arthritis.

Other benefits of the “click” include spinal cord reflex changes to muscles in the affected area that relax them. There also important spinal reflexes and brain based reflexes that produce immediate pain reduction. Sometimes the “cavitation” may not always be heard, depending on the type of adjustment and the direction of movement, this does not mean the adjustment has not worked as they can still be effective without a “click and pop”.

How many visits do I need for relief?

The number of treatments needed for each person depends on such things as:

  • injury severity
  • length of time you have had the injury
  • level of degeneration of the spinal joints and discs
  • extent of nerve and muscle involvement
  • is it one, two or more levels of damage
  • your lifestyle at work and home
  • general fitness and age of patient
  • whether you smoke or are overweight

A very general guide for people looking for some level of pain relief is about 6-10 visits over a month. If there is no improvement in a person’s level of pain or activity after a month, a re-assessment or a second opinion is needed.

When presenting symptoms resolve some patients choose to cease care at this point, this point, however as prevention is always better than cure, we do advise them to return for maintenance and prevention.

Certain spinal problems need ongoing management to help a person keep functioning at their best. Many patients prefer to keep functioning at the optimum and plan regular visits at two, three or four weekly intervals to maintain full function or help manage their pain.

Why do chiropractors recommend maintenance check ups?

Chiropractors can detect joint movement problems before they become noticeably painful. Adjustments can often clear any restrictions and keep you moving in a pain-free way in your activities of daily living.

What else do chiropractors look for during a visit?

Long term spinal problems often lead to adaptions and imbalances elsewhere that can lead to seemingly unrelated problems.

Examples:

  • a stiff neck may be the end result of a long term tooth and jaw problem and managing jaw muscles speeds up the recovery
  • a shoulder problem may cause you to shrug your neck muscles to get through a painful point in shoulder movement, causing a neck problem
  • a stiff neck may have you sleep on two pillows, stiffening between your shoulder blades
  • a sore back may have you bend differently to get your shoes on, aggravating your hips and knees.
  • a sore ankle may have you pushing off differently on the other leg, causing knee and hip pain on the other side

Noticing these different movement patterns allows a chiropractor to advise on restoring better movement patterns and changing causative postural habits. Once this becomes a new habit, the movement becomes easier and the area is less likely to fatigue and cause pain.

Do Chiropractors only treat people with back pain?

Chiropractors treat problems of the spine and nervous system, and extremity problems associated with the upper and lower limbs. Whilst most of our patients see us for spinal care, some patients report they can better manage a range of other health conditions when their spine and muscle system is relaxed and working well. Some of these symptoms include things like headaches, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, sinus and digestive symptoms. Chiropractic can also help maintain general wellbeing, rather than care for a particular problem. This is called wellness care.

Why doesn’t chiropractic work for some people?

Some joint problems are caused by other things like muscle strains or inflammation and need other types of treatment at that time. Your chiropractor will refer you for other types of treatment if needed.

If a trial of treatment makes no improvement or if other problems outside the scope of practice of a chiropractor are discovered, a patient is referred. Usually the patient’s medical practitioner is the next point of call with a note from the chiropractor outlining what has been done and what may be needed to be done next.

The chiropractor usually stays in touch to follow progress and provide further treatment and advice, if appropriate. Chiropractors often co-manage with other allied-health practitioners such as acupuncturists, massage therapists, dentists, optometrists and physiotherapists to get to the bottom of some complicated cases.

When can I stop?

You can attend for as much or as little treatment as you like. Some people are happy with one visit occasionally and feel that’s all they need. Other people find that a customised plan of care gets better results and allows them to get long term relief, do all the things they want and not give up things because of their condition.

Know that we happily provide whatever care you seek and explain what we honestly think you need.

What should I wear to my appointment?

Whatever clothes you arrive in, our chiropractors will take care of you.

Do chiropractors treat pregnant women?

Yes. Having your spine checked by your chiropractor throughout your pregnancy will keep you moving well and will assist in maintaining the proper function of your pelvis and spine as you adapt to the many changes your body is undergoing.

What do I need to tell my chiropractor?

Your chiropractor will have you complete an intake form; it is important you answer all the questions completely. All your health history, lifestyle, medications, surgical history and past treatments help us in forming a diagnosis and influence the treatment we may provide.

What happens on my first visit?

On your first visit to our clinic, you will be asked to complete some paperwork. You may download our New Patient Form and complete this in your time.  If you prefer you can email the completed form to us or bring it with you on your first visit to our office. Your chiropractor will consult with you on your health and lifestyle history and then conduct a thorough examination of your areas of concern. You will be with us for about 40 minutes once the paperwork is completed.  The chiropractor will discuss with you and find out:

  • What is wrong
  • What other health issues you may have
  • What has helped in the past
  • If other health problems may be helped by our approach too

We can do some movement and safety checks of the area of concern and figure out whether we are best to treat you at the time or whether you need X-rays to see what is happening. We can perform spinal X-rays onsite so we will generally not need to refer you elsewhere.

After the examination we will sit down and discuss the findings of your history, exam and X-ray analysis and give you a diagnosis, discuss treatment options and there expected outcomes and how long it will take to achieve your goals in recovery. If we believe we can help you we will gain your consent to our treatment plan, however if we believe you are not a candidate for our care we will refer you to who we believe will help you the best.