I must be asked at least ten times a week what chiropractic is, what kind of complaints do you treat and what can I expect if I go to see one?
So the official definition of chiropractic from the world health organisation is what I usually reply – “A health care profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on general health” (WHO 2005). Anyone who calls themselves a chiropractor must be registered with the General chiropractic council (GCC). The GCC are an independent statutory body which regulates all chiropractors in the UK, and are in place to protect the health and safety of the public by ensuring high standards of practice in the chiropractic profession.
Chiropractors treat a multitude of complaints and not just the back as many people believe to be the case. Don’t get me wrong we are very good at treating back and neck pain, I would say it’s approximately 70% of what I see in clinic. However we are qualified to be able to treat most joints in the body or refer you to someone appropriate that can help if we can’t. Personally I have treated many shoulder, hip and knee problems since being qualified with some great results.
What can you expect if you go to see a chiropractor?
Well every chiropractor has their own way of doing things but there are some fundamental things that will be the same wherever you go. First of all you will be asked a few questions, including questions be about the complaint that brought you to see them and also questions of your past health history. It may seem they are asking you questions that are irrelevant to your problem but they will be important to the chiropractor and may impact on the treatment you will receive from them. All the details and notes taken are completely confidential.
The examination centers around your complaint but other tests may be carried out, usually just to rule out other more serious problems. If the chiropractor suspects a more serious problem or imaging is felt to be clinically justified or if it’s believed that your treatment would be better suited to another healthcare profession/specialist, then they will refer you appropriately. During the examination the chiropractor will examine the area of complaint and the areas around it. Its a good idea to go prepared, e.g. if you have a knee problem, bring shorts with you to change into. However there should be a gown made available to you, if the chiropractor has not mentioned one, please do hesitate to ask. We want you to be as comfortable as possible especially if you are in pain. Also feel free to ask any questions throughout the examination, even if you think they are silly, we are here to help and we will always try to give you an answer.
Before treatment the chiropractor will have a chat with you about what they believe to be the cause of your complaint, what treatment they recommend, what you can expect to feel and ask for your verbal consent to go ahead. The most important thing to remember is that it’s YOUR treatment, so ask as many questions as you like. Especially if there’s something you’re uncomfortable with or don’t quite understand. Usually with treatment, there’s a 50/50 role, 50% of the treatment is down to the chiropractor and 50% of the treatment will be down to you. Things like exercises and stretches may be given to you to help treat, prevent future episodes and manage your complaint.
Treatment itself can be comprised of a variety of techniques including manipulations, mobilisations, ice, heat, ultrasound, exercise, stretches, dry needling, as well as advice about posture and lifestyle. Some first time patients have the belief that chiropractic manipulations can be brutal, this isn’t the case most in my experience they are often gentle. Mostly the comments I get after the first treatment are about the positioning feeling “odd” for manipulations/mobilisations and if there was “crack” or “pop”. Please don’t let these noises put you off going to see a chiropractor, it’s just the noise of gas being released by the joint capsule and is not related to developing osteoarthritis as the old wives tales would have people believe.
I hope that has helped clear up a few things, please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have by phoning us on 02920 099 400.