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What do chiropractors do?

The objective of chiropractic care is to improve the body’s ability to improve and maintain your overall health and wellness—on all levels. This is ultimately accomplished by addressing the underlying cause of injury or illness, rather than by the mere treatment of presenting symptoms.

Chiropractors are uniquely trained qualified to deliver a hands-on, non-invasive, and drug-free practice that safely and effectively helps relieve pain and improves the body’s overall function. Various approaches and treatments may be utilised depending upon the need, and range from manual spinal adjustment techniques to soft tissue therapy.

What conditions do chiropractors treat?

While the primary goal is to maintain and improve health, chiropractors also diagnose and treat many different spinal disorders that cause musculoskeletal or nerve pain. Similar to other types of doctors, a chiropractor performs a physical and neurological examination as part of his or her process of making an accurate diagnosis. X-rays or CT scan studies may be ordered to confirm your diagnosis.

Chiropractic care may help if you are experiencing aching joints or muscle pain that is affecting your ability to get through the day, or preventing you from doing your favourite activities. It can also help maintain healthy spine and joint function, even if you do not have painful symptoms.

People commonly visit a chiropractor for help with:

    • back pain

    • neck pain

    • headache

    • numbness, tingling or pain in an extremity (e.g. sciatica)

    • whiplash

    • strains and sprains from daily activities

    • overuse injuries

    • work and sports-related injuries

    • arthritis

    • restricted movement in the back, shoulders, neck or limbs

The main objective of chiropractic care, however, is to improve the body’s ability to improve and maintain your overall health and wellness—on all levels. This is ultimately accomplished by addressing the underlying cause of injury or illness, rather than by the mere treatment of presenting symptoms.

Is chiropractic treatment safe?

Chiropractic adjustment is safe when it's performed by someone trained and licensed to deliver chiropractic care. In 1979, the New Zealand Commission of Inquiry into Chiropractic released their report after over 18 months of research. They concluded that spinal manipulation in the hands of a registered chiropractor is “remarkably safe.” They also commented that “chiropractors are the only health practitioners who are necessarily equipped by their education and training to carry out spinal manual therapy.”

The risk of serious complications with neck adjustments have been estimated at 6.39 per 10 million adjustments, and for lumbar adjustments only 1 serious complication per 100 million. Compare this with the use of NSAIDS (anti-inflammatory drugs) where the risk has been put at 3.2 per 1000, or cervical spine surgery where the risk is 15.6 per 1000. This research suggests that anti-inflammatory drugs are over 5000 times more dangerous than a chiropractic adjustment to your neck!

What is a chiropractic adjustment, and how is it performed?

Adjustments are a unique chiropractic technique involving the application of gentle, yet firm, pressure to a bone. The primary goal is to restore mobility to the affected joint, allowing the bone to return to its natural, original position. Adjustments characteristically employ a high velocity, low amplitude thrust, which accomplishes the desired effect with minimal ease and discomfort.

Structural integrity of the spine has been recognised since ancient times as a fundamental element toward optimum health. Together, the brain and spine, collectively known as the central nerve system, or CNS, are responsible for maintaining proper function of all the body’s tissues, organs and systems. Hence, any condition which interferes with the free flow of information (nerve impulses) between the brain and body, will have a negative impact upon the body’s overall expression of health and well being.

Such interference, occurring in and around the CNS, is referred to as a subluxation. The primary objective of the chiropractic profession is to locate, analyse and correct vertebral subluxation(s). When the body is free of subluxations it is better equipped to express all its functions at a higher level. In short, chiropractic adjustments serve to optimise health.

What type of education and training do chiropractors have?

Chiropractic education, worldwide, includes courses in the basic sciences, clinical sciences, chiropractic technique, chiropractic philosophy, and business management. This curriculum will include:

    • Chiropractic History and Philosophy

    • Taking a Patient’s History

    • Physical Examination

    • Neuromusculoskeletal Examination

    • Psychosocial Assessment

    • Diagnostic Studies

    • Diagnosis/Clinical Impression

    • Case Management

    • Adjusting the Patient

    • Emergency Care

    • Case Follow-up and Review

    • Record Keeping

    • Doctor-Patient Relationship

    • Professional Issues

    • Public Health and Wellness

    • Ethics and Integrity

    • Non-adjustive Therapeutic Procedures

    • Nutrition

    • Patient Education

    • Business Management

    • Information Literacy

The New Zealand College of Chiropractic curriculum introduces students to the principles of chiropractic, with a particular focus on the synergistic relationship between its philosophy, science and art.

How does chiropractic differ from medical practice?

GPs and chiropractors are both licensed, professional healthcare providers. Each are thoroughly trained to examine, diagnose and treat patients. This training differs in approach, however, in that a medical doctor may be inclined to focus on the disease process, where a chiropractor hones in on the person with the disease.

GPs tend to prescribe pharmaceuticals and surgery to treat patients, from the outside-in. A chiropractor works to improve one's nervous system to in turn help aid other ailments, naturally, from the inside-out.

Each are unique in their respective approaches. And, neither are meant to be qualified to do what the other does. In fact, when coordinated properly and efficiently, both medical and chiropractic may be implemented as complementary practices.