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Chiropractic FAQ

How does chiropractic work?

Chiropractic is a full body, multimodal therapy aimed at optimising the function of your body through an unimpeded musculoskeletal system and nervous system.

By seeking out areas of your body that are not moving or responding properly, your chiropractor will help to restore these through adjustments, work on the soft tissues such as muscles and connective tissue and specific movements and exercises to help your body relearn how it should move and respond to the world.

What is a Subluxation?

The word subluxation used in the chiropractic sense is actually one of those historical anomalies of nomenclature. Meaning that back in 1895 when chiropractic started, they thought that they were moving bones that were out of place, but not quite dislocated. That is a subluxation. The passage of time and science over the last 100 years has taught us that the lesion that we are dealing with, whilst involving the joint, is more likely a restriction within the normal range of movement of that joint, rather than it actually subluxing. Because there has been so much attached to the effects of these restrictions with respect to the nervous system and the surrounding muscles, the term subluxation to describe this animal has stuck. To help differentiate this from a classical subluxation, we specify it as a chiropractic subluxation.

Do I have a slipped disc?

The disc is a soft, pulpy, shock absorber. It has a fibrous outer ring holding in a jelly-like material. A slipped disc is a common way to refer to a wide variety of disc problems. However, a disc can’t slip because of the way it attaches to the spinal bones (vertebrae) above and below it. A disc can bulge, it can tear, it can herniate, it can thin, and it can collapse. But it can’t slip.


Do I have a pinched nerve?

A pinched nerve is rare. It is more likely that an adjacent spinal joint has been irritated and is inflamed. Nerves are particularly sensitive to the chemicals involved in the inflammatory process. Other causes of local and referred pain are: muscle spasms and trigger points; normal joint pain referral; and joint capsule pain.


Can chiropractic subluxations clear up on their own?

Sometimes. Today’s hectic lifestyles are a constant source of irritation and restriction to our normal movement patterns. Fortunately, our bodies have the ability to self-correct many of these problems as we bend and stretch, or when we sleep at night. When these restrictions don’t resolve, you need to see a chiropractor.


What’s an adjustment?

Chiropractic adjustments usually involve a quick, gentle and precise movement that helps add motion to joints that aren’t moving correctly. Some methods use the practitioner’s hands, an instrument, a special table or the force of gravity. There are many ways to adjust the joints of the body.


Are chiropractic adjustments safe?

Yes. A New Zealand government study amongst others, found that adjustments are remarkably safe. By avoiding drugs and risky surgery, chiropractic care enjoys an excellent track record. A thorough exam can identify the rare person for whom chiropractic care might be unsuitable. Your chiropractor has had a minimum of 5 years university training to help make this so safe. Compare the statistics. Adjustments are about 100 times safer than taking an over-the-counter pain reliever.


Will adjustments make my joints too loose?

No. Only joints that are locked up receive adjustments. This allows weakened muscles and ligaments to stabilize and heal.

Can the bones move too much?

Highly unlikely. A chiropractic adjustment is special. It has the right amount of energy, delivered to an exact spot, at a precise angle, at just the right time. The intent is to get a stuck joint moving again, helping to return normal feedback to the nerves and muscles. Years of training, practice and experience make chiropractic adjustments specific and safe.


What makes the sound during the adjustment?

Lubricating fluids separate the bones of each spinal joint. Some adjusting methods can produce a sound when the gas and fluids in the joint shift. It is much like opening a bottle of champagne or removing a suction cup. The sound is interesting, but it isn’t always a guide to the quality or value of the adjustment.


Are all patients adjusted the same way?

No. Each patient’s body and care plan is unique. With over 300 joints, 800 muscles, nerves that count in the billions and connective tissue that holds it all together, there are a lot of variations in what can go wrong. When you combine with this the fact that each of us uses our body in a different way, you can see that we need something special for everyone.

Each patient’s care is dependant on age, condition and health goals.


Can I adjust myself?

No. Some people can make their joints ‘pop’, but that’s not an adjustment! Worse, damage can occur by mobilizing a joint with weakened muscles and ligaments. Adjustments are specific and take years to master. Even your chiropractor must consult a colleague to benefit from chiropractic care.


How many adjustments will I need?

The number of adjustments varies with each patient and their individual health goals. Many patients sense progress within one or two adjustments. Visits become less frequent as your body stabilises. In chronic cases, complete healing may take months or even years. An active patient, once stable will seek ‘chiropractic maintenance’ to remain stable and healthy. This could be a monthly, three monthly or even yearly visit depending on the patient’s requirements.



Can I have chiropractic care after back surgery?

Yes. Rest assured that your chiropractor will avoid surgically modified areas of your spine. Surgery often causes altered movement patterns above or below the involved level. These areas will be the focus of your chiropractic care.


Can patients with osteoporosis have chiropractic care?

Of course. When developing a care plan, your chiropractor considers the unique circumstances of each patient. There are many ways to adjust the spine. The method selected will be best suited to your age, size and medical condition. Chiropractic care used in conjunction with resistance exercise has proven to be a very successful method of stabilising osteoporotic patients.


How long until I feel better?

Some patients experience immediate relief others can feel worse before feeling better within 24 hours of the first treatment of a chronic condition. Many factors can affect the healing process. How long have you had your problem? Are you keeping your appointments? Are you getting proper rest, exercise and nutrition? Do you smoke? Are you in otherwise good health? Within a relatively short period of time most patients sense enough progress to fully carry out the recommendations of their chiropractor.


How long will I need chiropractic care?

After patients get the relief they want, many choose to continue periodic care. These patients show up for their visits feeling great. Preventive care is always going to be better than reactive care. Periodic visits help support the final stages of healing and help detect and resolve new problems before they become serious.


What if chiropractic care doesn’t work?

As with any approach to a medical condition, chiropractic care is just one of the options available to you. If progress is slower than would be considered normal for your condition, your chiropractor will refer you to other specialists who may be able to help you further.

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