Frequently Asked Chiropractic Questions
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Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts that focuses on the spine and how it relates to the body as a whole. A Chiropractor is a licensed Doctor concerned with the integrity of your neuromusculoskeletal system. Chiropractors are highly educated and extensively trained to use a variety of methods to examine, correct and prevent dysfunction in your joints. Abnormal motion or position of spinal bones often results in abnormal nervous system patterns leading to poor soft tissue (discs, ligaments) and muscle function, which we refer to as the “subluxation”. This combination can set in motion an inflammatory and degenerative process in the spine & body, which will affect the body’s ability to respond to stresses in the environment, as well as causing painful conditions. Chiropractic care is aimed at improving spinal function and preventing these abnormal patterns, allowing full communication between brain & body through the spine. This enables the body to respond effectively stresses placed upon it.
Chiropractors are experts in finding the source of your problem and in making the appropriate adjustments to allow your body to work properly again. They understand the importance of the connection between the brain and the body and know how to relieve pain, discomfort and reduced mobility, wherever it is occurring. The intent of chiropractic care is to restore your body’s function and ability to heal by removing subluxations.
Do I need a referral?
Doctors of Chiropractic are primary contact health care professionals, so you do not require a medical referral. Your chiropractor is well-trained to determine if your problem will respond to chiropractic care or if you require referral to another health care provider.
Many clients, however, do arrive at our office via referral from a satisfied client or other health care professionals such as MDs, RMTs, physiotherapists and personal trainers. These referrals are made because they appreciate our professionalism, thoroughness and dedication to finding the best approach for each individual’s care.
Education and training:
It takes a minimum of seven years of university level training to become a Chiropractor. Three years of university courses are required prior to being accepted to the four year academic course which includes no less than 4500 hours of classroom and clinical instruction. This must be at at an institution approved by the International Chiropractic Council of Education (ICCE). A chiropractic student is required to take National and Provincial Board Exams, both written and practical, before being eligible for a license to practice in Canada. In BC, 40 hours of continuing education are required over every two year period to maintain a license, as well as a practice review and office inspection every five years.
An adjustment is a highly skilled and precise movement usually applied by hand or with an instrument to a joint, either in the spine or the body. They are high speed, low amplitude “pushes” in a specific direction. Adjustments reset the joint to restore proper movement and nervous system feedback, which can optimize function.
Chiropractic adjustments are not “aggressive” or painful procedures and can often be done quite gently. Other adjunctive therapies may accompany an adjustment where necessary, such as soft tissue or trigger point work to release muscular tension.
-Improved posture and awareness of how you use your body
-Relief from headaches, neck and back pain or other symptoms
-Prevention of work-related postural strain or injuries
-Enhanced athletic performance and quick recovery from injury
-Improved flexibility and range of motion
-Comfortable pregnancy, safe and easy delivery
-Correction of gait and foot problems
-Improved energy and mood, better sleep
Visit frequency and duration of care is dependent entirely on your problem and how long you’ve had it. There are also other factors determining your healing capacity such as: age, degree of disability, prior injuries, pre-existing conditions, general health and overall stress levels. Everyone responds differently. Some detect changes in a few short days or weeks and resolve quickly; within a few visits. Others may take weeks to months before showing progress. If you have had chronic headaches for many years, it will make sense that improvement can take time.
Your chiropractor will discuss with you the frequency of treatment required, what you may expect in terms of improvement, when you may notice changes, and how long you can expect it to take. Some conditions need more ongoing care than others. Every client is unique, so our care plans are made based on what is appropriate for each person.
If you have already been seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis and are transferring your care to our office, you may only need a couple of sessions before you’re back on track.
Of course not! This is a common myth about chiropractic. Only if you want to! It’s just that once clients experience the value of chiropractic, many choose to continue. As well, the hands-on nature of the chiropractic adjustment is essentially what brings people back to the chiropractor a number of times. To be treated by a chiropractor, the client needs to be in his or her office. In contrast, a course of treatment from medical doctors often involves a pre-established plan that is conducted at home (ie. taking a course of antibiotics once a day for a couple of weeks).
A chiropractor may provide “acute” care aimed at symptom relief only, which will involve fewer visits. Education on preventing future issues is always provided at our office; however this may not ensure that the problem will not reoccur.
Repeat visits to monitor progress and prevent return of abnormal movement patterns will allow for stabilization of the joints and retraining of the supporting muscles. This approach could make a certain number of visits necessary over a period of time, but may give longer lasting results. This would be called “corrective” or “stabilization” care.
Many clients enjoy the benefits of regular chiropractic adjustments even when they feel fine. This would be called “maintenance” or “wellness” care. Sometimes you don’t know you have a disorder of the neuromusculoskeletal system until it becomes obviously painful. Just like you see your dentist to have your teeth checked, regular visits to your chiropractor can catch related health conditions early, often preventing them from developing into major problems. These peoples’ interest in this type of care helps make sure that once they get well, they stay well.
Whichever approach you decide to take and how long you choose to benefit from chiropractic care is always up to you!
The safety and effectiveness of chiropractic treatment have been studied in depth and very carefully.
Since its foundation in 1895, chiropractic has been widely recognized as one of the safest, drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of headache, neck and back pain. It has an excellent safety record. However, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects. Even common over-the-counter medicines carry a risk.
The chiropractic adjustment is a highly controlled procedure that rarely causes discomfort when performed. Most clients experience immediate relief following an adjustment. However, some (less than 10%) may experience temporary pain, stiffness, slight swelling or other symptoms relating to the changes made through the adjustment. Any of these effects associated with spinal adjustment are typically minor and short-lived, and for some people may be part of the process of healing.
Chiropractic is a healing discipline firmly grounded in science. Few other health care interventions have been assessed as extensively as chiropractic, both in terms of safety and effectiveness. There have been at least six formal government inquiries (Canada, U.S.A., New Zealand) into chiropractic worldwide over the last 25 years and all have concluded that contemporary chiropractic care is safe, effective, and cost-effective, and have recommended public funding for chiropractic services. In addition, there have been countless scientific clinical studies assessing the appropriateness, effectiveness, and/or cost-effectiveness of spinal manipulation or chiropractic manipulation, most notably for low back pain.
Chiropractors receive 360 hours of education in radiology covering a full range of topics from protection to X-ray interpretation and diagnosis. Governments in every province have recognized the training and competence of chiropractors to take and interpret X-rays and have granted them this right.
X-rays are not always required, but can play an important role in making the correct diagnosis of your problem. If they have not already been done prior to your visit, your Chiropractor my send you to your MD with a note requesting that they order some x-ray films or another study. Studies are only requested when a need has been determined after taking a case history, conducting a physical examination and sometimes after a trial of therapy. If requested by your MD, the province’s medical plan covers the cost of the films.
Once completed, a radiologist will read the films and provide a report. When you have submitted a signed release form, most x-ray clinics in BC will send the report and a CD or copies of the plain films directly to your Chiropractor. Then your Chiropractor will be able to review the films with you.
X-rays will not be ordered during pregnancy.
If you have an insurance claim, please be sure to inform the Office Assistant when you call the office to schedule your appointment. Bring all information regarding your claim to the office on your first visit. We must have your claim number that day in order to bill the insurance company directly. Once we receive confirmation from your insurer, your treatment can proceed within the time frame approved.
We accept ICBC claims, and Worksafe BC claims are accepted under special circumstances. Our fee structure and details of your specific claim can be discussed with the Office Assistant when you call.
Chiropractic treatment is based on basic biological and physiological sciences which apply to children as well as they do to adults. Chiropractic treatment is as beneficial to children as it is to adults, and children should be seen by chiropractors when appropriate and in a preventive way. The scientific literature is now demonstrating that low back pain is a very prevalent condition amongst school children. For example a 1992 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that the prevalence of low back pain (LBP) in adolescents up to age 15 is over 36 percent, and thus concluding that LBP in adolescents is a serious public health problem. As well, children can benefit by periodic spinal examinations where the chiropractor will look for clues to possible postural weaknesses that may predispose children to later problems related to their spine and skeleton.
There is also some evidence to indicate that adjustments may have a beneficial effect on a variety of childhood conditions. Adjustment may alleviate some of the secondary, or referred pain, arising from the response of the musculoskeletal structures to the primary cause. For example, research conducted in Denmark resulted in chiropractic treatment being recommended for the relief of infantile colic. Similarly, a recent U.S. study concluded that the application of manipulative techniques in children with recurring ear infections can prevent or decrease surgical intervention or antibiotic overuse. Chiropractic care is always adapted to the individual. It is a highly skilled treatment, and in the case of children, very gentle.
Dr. Brenda has taken a post-graduate course through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and is well-qualified to safely perform the very specific, light adjustments required when caring for children from infancy onward.
Can chiropractic treatment provide a preventative function? Clinical experience suggests that individuals with chronic conditions such as degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) or recurrent neck pain, back pain or headaches may experience less frequent and less severe symptoms when under regular chiropractic care. This also applies to individuals in highly stressful situations and those who experience repetitive physical and postural strain from their daily activities. Whether ongoing chiropractic treatment can prevent back pain from occurring in the first place, or prevent a previous condition from re-occurring, requires further study.
The role of chiropractic is complementary to other areas of primary health care. Chiropractic is not, for example, a replacement for medical care, but may offer a valid alternative to medication and surgery in appropriate circumstances.
Recognition by health science that many illnesses of our modern society are lifestyle based has shown us that we, as individuals, can influence our own health and well being. Therefore, many people welcome chiropractic’s emphasis on healthy lifestyle and personal responsibility, as well as its help in improving the body’s function, healing capacity and ability to fight off disease.
Is massage therapy helpful?
It can be! Massage therapy can be especially helpful to break the pain / spasm cycle in the muscles around an acutely dysfunctional joint/subluxation. Sometimes massage can help to break adhesions in chronically tight muscles or around old injuries. Massage therapy, either before receiving chiropractic treatment or afterwards is often a good complement to the adjustment. This can result in quicker resolution of symptoms and allow you to hold your adjustments longer.
What about other treatments such as physiotherapy or acupuncture?
Sometimes a “team approach” is necessary for the best resolution of a problem. These therapies can certainly be undertaken while receiving chiropractic care, and could complement the adjustment effectively by decreasing the inflammatory response to a joint dysfunction/subluxation and producing relaxation in the muscles. Supervised, appropriate exercise can improve strength and stability in the supporting tissues reducing the chance of recurrence.
Your Chiropractor will review your needs and options once the details of your case and response to chiropractic care have been determined. If any referral is made, there is a reason for it, and this will be discussed with you in advance.
You may require a written referral for these therapies from your medical doctor to get coverage under your extended benefits plan. Very few plans accept a referral from a chiropractor. Occasionally, plans do not require a referral at all. Be sure to check your plan so you know what to expect.
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Unit 3 on street level
1238 Homer St.
Vancouver, BC V6B 2Y5
Our front door opens directly on to the West side
of Homer Street, between Davie and Drake.
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