What is Chiropractic?
It is a manual therapy which is used most often to treat complaints of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, and pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.
Treatment is safe and drug free and involves a gentle hands-on manipulation of the spine and other joints - thus allowing improved movement of the parts of the body that have symptoms of pain.
Chiropractic is the third largest primary healthcare profession in the world and has primary health care status so you do not need a referral from your GP for treatment. Chiropractors are also trained to take and read X-rays. If you have any imaging such as an MRI, CT or X-ray, it is useful to bring this to your appointment.
How does it help the Neuromusculoskeletal System?
The nervous system (brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves) is the communication pathway which allows the body to communicate with itself so it can coordinate and function properly. The body’s healing response is also controlled by the nervous system. If there is a breakdown in this communication anywhere in the body, problems will ensue which may manifest themselves as pain, aches or restricted movement.
Chiropractic focuses on the relationship of structure and function (as coordinated by the nervous system), and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of your health.
The Treatment Process
This covers 3 important stages: patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Crucially, chiropractors take an integrated and holistic approach to the health needs of their patients, including physical, psychological and social factors.
Chiropractors manually realign (adjustments) joints and muscles which can then allow the body to heal properly. They work with the body’s inbuilt healing process while treating the area of complaint.
As well as advice about self-help, exercise, diet and lifestyle, chiropractors provide support for pain management, sports injuries and active rehabilitation. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counselling.
Chiropractors – Training and Regulation
Qualified chiropractors are professional practitioners registered with the General Chiropractic Council.
In the UK training to become a doctor of chiropractic takes 5 years. It is similar in size and complexity to medicine and covers in detail (amongst other topics), physiology, pathology, anatomy, radiology, orthopaedics and neurology. The detailed diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of complaints are covered relating to all joints, as well as the spine, muscles, discs and nerves. Pharmacology is also studied, although in less detail than that of conventional medicine. Chiropractic is a drug-free approach to the care of neuro-musculoskeletal disorders.
A Medical Research Council clinical trial and its follow-up, reported in the British Medical Journal in 1990 and 1995, found that chiropractic treatment of back pain was more effective than hospital outpatient treatment. The European Commission Acute Low Back Pain Guidelines also includes manipulation as an effective treatment for low back pain.