A Beginners Guide to Chiropractic Care and its Benefits

Chiropractic care is a healthcare modality that treats back pain, but it is also more than that. It is focused on the relationship between the spinal column and the surrounding nerves, joints, muscles, and overall function of the body, and views the body as a single unit where imbalances in one area can affect another. Gentle spinal manipulations and adjustments are applied in chiropractic care to realign the body, enabling it to recuperate and to heal itself.

Modern chiropractic care started in 1895 – so it’s been with us for quite some time. It is often viewed as a complementary therapy – in that it can be used as part of an overall treatment plan for a patient in conjunction with other treatments, both allopathic and natural.

The basis for chiropractic care

Chiropractors believe that since the spine’s functions include free movement, protection of the nerves, and bodily support and co-ordination, a healthy spine is necessary for good overall health.

The theory behind the treatment is that if the spine becomes strained or stressed it can have an impact on other parts of the body including the nervous system, muscles, joints, and circulation, and that this could lead to disease.

Gentle adjustments to the spine can relieve pain and stiffness and restore flexibility and movement, and may also bring about improvements in the body’s functions and health.

What it can treat

Chiropractic care can be used to treat back pain and injuries, neck pain, sciatica, joint problems, headaches, postural problems and other conditions related to the musculoskeletal system.

An example of a condition requiring treatment might be where one side of the body becomes injured, and the other side tries to compensate and this leads to leg or ankle pain during walking. So you could say it’s a bit like a chain reaction in a way – whereby the ‘weakest link’ affects the rest of the chain.

What the research shows

There is evidence from random controlled trials that chiropractic care can be very effective for acute or chronic lower back pain, headaches and migraines, dizziness, neck pain, sciatica, and joint conditions.

Many patients and chiropractic doctors have also found that chiropractic care may relieve many other conditions and bring about improvements to overall health.

What chiropractic treatment involves

There is no one-size treatment for patients as it depends on each individual case including their age and medical history. When you visit a chiropractor they may do some or all of the following:

  • Conduct a physical examination. This may involve visually examining your spine, neck, head and pelvis, and observing how you walk and stand.
  • Take a medical history, including past injuries and illnesses and questions about your pain level.
  • Request x-rays for to arrive at a more specific diagnosis.
  • Use various methods to gently adjust your spine, such as pressing, pushing, or using specialised instruments.
  • Provide you with instructions on exercise and advice on lifestyle and dietary modifications to improve your overall health and wellbeing.

During spinal manipulations, you may hear a cracking or popping sound, which is simply air bubbles resulting from joints being moved away from each other, and is not dangerous or harmful.

Other treatments used

Other treatments that may be used in conjunction with chiropractic include:

Massage is used to manipulate soft tissues such as muscles, joints, tendons and nerves, in order to bring about pain and stiffness relief, improvements in circulation and lymphatic function, and to promote relaxation. Types of massage include:

  • Relaxation – to relieve tension and promote relaxation.
  • Remedial – for treating specific problem areas on the body.
  • Sports massage – used by sports people or enthusiasts to improve performance.
  • Trigger point release – this is used where a problem in one area of the body has produced referral pain (a trigger point) in another. Pressure is applied to the trigger point to bring about pain relief.
  • Cupping – a treatment involving suction and vacuum pressure by use of an instrument (‘cup’), used to improve blood flow to the tissues and to reduce muscle tightness and pain.

Osteopathy involves a range of treatments including massage, spinal manipulation, exercise programs, bodily awareness and various other techniques to treat pain and disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

A treatment modality for movement disorders, designed to strengthen muscles, prevent wasting, and improve mobility. Physiotherapy is often used to treat the aged, the physically disabled, and people who have suffered an injury, and may involve a range of treatments including massage and exercise.

At our clinic

At our Northern Beaches chiropractic clinic in Sydney, we view the body ‘holistically’ – in that problems in one area can affect another, and that sometimes a combination of treatments is required to enable your body to recover.

As well as chiropractic care, treatments at Hands On Healthcare Clinic include remedial and sports massage, trigger point release, heat/cold therapy, and dry needling/acupuncture. Contact us to discuss your healthcare needs, or to make an appointment with one of our professional therapists.

November 23, 2015
Georgina Smith