How can chiropractic nourish you?
Chiropractic is a complementary healthcare discipline that involves diagnosing and treating mechanical problems of the musculoskeletal system without the use of drugs or surgery. The word ‘chiropractic’ is derived from the Greek words ‘cheir’ and ‘praktos’, meaning ‘hand’ and ‘done’ or ‘practised’, so the combination roughly translates to ‘done by hand’.
The original version of chiropractic was developed by Daniel David Palmer, a 19th-century spiritualist who experimented with magnetic healing prior to founding this modality. In its earliest form, chiropractic included beliefs about the role of the nervous system in causing ill health which are inconsistent with established principles of mainstream medicine.
As chiropractic education evolved, the profession increasingly embraced a medical and scientific understanding of the musculoskeletal system, and today, many chiropractors work cooperatively with doctors and other healthcare providers. In 2016, an influential article recommended the best definition for chiropractors as “musculoskeletal practitioners with a special emphasis on spinal pain”.
Chiropractic has much in common with osteopathy, which places an emphasis on musculoskeletal alignment, performing manipulations of the spine and various joints, and a non-invasive, whole-body approach to health. Chiropractors are trained to identify health conditions which are not suitable for chiropractic treatment and will refer their patients to a GP or suitable specialist. In Australia, chiropractors are registered health professionals regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
Benefits of chiropractic
The majority of evidence suggesting the effectiveness of chiropractic is focused around spinal conditions. Although one study reported temporary adverse effects such as tiredness and dizziness after chiropractic intervention, the researchers concluded that the benefits of reduced neck pain and disability may outweigh the risk of treatment. There is evidence to suggest spinal manipulation followed by exercise offers greater benefits for back pain than exercise alone.
Reviews of randomised controlled trials suggest that spinal manipulative therapy may be one of several effective treatments for chronic lower-back pain. There is evidence to indicate chiropractic may be helpful in relieving the symptoms of migraine headaches, and research also suggests spinal manipulation may be equally effective as surgery in the treatment of sciatica.
Another possible benefit of chiropractic is a decreased reliance on pain medication. The results of a systematic review suggest people receiving chiropractic care for musculoskeletal pain are estimated to be 49% less likely to be prescribed opioids for pain management than those treated by other health professionals.
Chiropractic may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
What to expect from a chiropractic session
In some respects, a visit your local chiropractor has similarities to seeing a GP or other healthcare provider. To begin, the chiropractor -- often shortened to ‘chiro’ -- will obtain a detailed medical history from you, examine you and complete an orthopaedic assessment, then suggest a diagnosis. Chiropractors are trained in using X-rays as one of their diagnostic tools to help evaluate your condition. Your chiro will then customise a suitable treatment plan, which may involve massage and recommendations about exercise and nutrition, as well as spinal adjustments.
A chiropractor performs an adjustment by delivering a swift and carefully directed push or thrust to a joint whose movement is restricted. Chiropractors use their hands or an instrument designed for the purpose of carrying out this adjustment, with the aim of improving mobility and restoring the joint’s natural function.
Due to the examinations and diagnostics involved, your first chiropractic session may last up to an hour or more. Follow-up sessions are usually shorter in duration, and on average, it will take 6-10 visits to obtain best results. The number and duration of your visits will depend on your specific treatment plan.
Chiropractic is unsuitable if you are suffering from advanced osteoporosis or other conditions affecting your bones, as well as illnesses such as arthritis, which compromise the stability of your joints. However, chiropractors are trained to modify their adjustments to the individual and may assist with these conditions. If chiropractic is not advisable, your chiropractor will direct you to a practitioner or specialist better-equipped to ensure your best health outcome.
Adverse effects from chiropractic are usually minor and temporary, although there are rare cases when more serious complications including disc herniation or stroke have been reported. However, the hazards are small if you are being treated by a suitably trained practitioner, and this modality has a lower risk profile than conventional spinal treatments involving medication or surgery.
As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing chiropractic. If you have any concerns at all, also speak to your chiropractor, who will be happy to address these and evaluate whether chiropractic is a suitable treatment for you.