If you are a little confused about what chiropractic care actually entails, you are most certainly not alone. Many people are confused about the nature of chiropractic treatment and the somewhat poor reputation associated with chiropractic care.
Let's find out more about this highly successful form of alternative medicine that offers relief to millions of Americans every year.
Various forms of manipulation have been used therapeutically for centuries. However, it wasn’t until the 1800s that scientific basis for the practice was instituted, and the word ‘chiropractic’, a translated form of the Greek words cheir and praktos, which essentially mean ‘done by hand’, was established.
Chiropractic care refers to the manual manipulation of the body with the purpose of alleviating problems with the musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system is comprised of the bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints and other connective tissues that provide shape, support, stability and movement in the body. When there are problems within the musculoskeletal system, it can cause mild, chronic or extreme pain, limited mobility, and difficulty in carrying out our usual day to day tasks.
A chiropractor can treat a variety of spinal conditions and their side effects by manipulating the spine by hand – a process that sounds much more intense and painful than it really is. In fact, spinal manipulation is a precise, swift adjustment that aims to release the pressure on the nerves in your back in order to allow the body to begin to heal itself.
Chiropractic care has been successfully used to treat a wide range of spinal conditions with most problems occurring either in the lower back (lumbar) or neck (cervical spine). Some of the most commonly seen conditions treated by chiropractors include:
- Arthritis in the spine
- Herniated disc
- Pinched nerves
- Spinal stenosis
- Whiplash, usually as a result of an automobile accident
It is a very common misconception that you will be asked to remove your clothes at a chiropractic appointment. A regular chiropractic adjustment is not a massage and while you may be asked to remove a layer of clothing, it is often purely so that your therapist can better see the alignment of your spine. If this is a concern for you, you can ask your practitioner if you can be treated fully clothed at your consultation appointment.
Every patient is different, as is the amount of time that it takes for them to respond to treatment. Some patients will need just a couple of appointments to achieve adequate relief from their pain, while others with chronic conditions may have ongoing appointments with their chiropractor. It may be possible for your practitioner to give you an estimate of the number of appointments that you may need during your consultation, but these are subject to change depending on the severity of the condition.
Chiropractic care has something of an unfair reputation when it comes to this question, as many people do complain that some of the manipulations are uncomfortable or momentarily painful. Rest assured that the goal of chiropractic care is to reduce your pain, not cause it. It is completely normal to feel stiff and a little sore in the days after your appointment, particularly if it is your first chiropractic session. However, nearly all patients find that they then experience an improvement in their pain levels and mobility within 24 hours of their treatment. You should be substantially less achy after each subsequent appointment as your body starts to heal itself.
Chiropractors have one aim – to help your body to heal itself. In addition to spinal manipulations, many also offer advice on nutrition, exercises and lifestyle changes which will help support the health of your musculoskeletal system and enable you to live life to the fullest.