When it comes to choosing your healthcare provider, there are several important things you need to consider: time, cost, location, commitment, etc. These are all given.
However, there are many things you may not have considered before. First, how do you know what type of healthcare you actually need?
For example, there is a lot of confusion between a chiropractor and a physiotherapist. What’s the difference? (And there are LOTS of differences) Do I need a chiropractor or do I need a physiotherapist? Or an osteopath? Or a massage therapist?
Even then, did you know that there are over 40 different techniques in chiropractic?! (I can only imagine how many different forms of physiotherapy or massage there are because they are all NOT the same).
The truth is that if anyone person had it all figured out, every single healthcare practitioner would be doing the exact same thing with 100% success.
Until then, we all do the best we can with the information we have at the time to the best of our abilities.
So, when it comes to choosing the right healthcare provider for you, there are 5 things that are important for us that we’d like to share with you. Specifically, we’d like to mention the 5 things to know before considering chiropractic care, but we should add that this approach can be used towards any form of healthcare you’re considering.
#5 - Do you need chiropractic care in the first place?
It seems like a simple enough question, but one that contains layers of complexity.
Many people don’t consider seeing a chiropractor unless they experience physical pain. Alas, this approach often gets people into trouble because by the time that they experience pain they actually have chronic spinal conditions that end up taking more time, effort, and money to correct.
The focus of chiropractic is on a specific condition of the spine that is known in chiropractic as a subluxation. Subluxation is the condition where the joints between the vertebrae of your spine and not moving properly, or misaligning, and the result of that are that it is affecting the function of your body.
The function is ultimately controlled by your nerve system and includes pain as one potential indicator. However, that may not be the only factor. For example, many people experience chronic stress and tight muscles.
Here’s the thing: muscles only tighten in response to the nerves that control them. So tight muscles can actually be the result of a nerve problem, which can actually be the consequence of a spine problem.
So in brief, chiropractic is focused on your body functioning properly and addressing problems with the spine if it is not.
Now, here’s the kicker: these particular conditions known as subluxations represent physical issues that you cannot simply massage or stretch out. They require mobilisation - what a chiropractor calls a specific “adjustment” in order to correct.
And this is one of the key differences between chiropractic and physiotherapy. What physiotherapists prescribe such as stretches and exercises is brilliant because your body is supposed to be strong and able to fix itself.
However, if the exercises are not fixing the problem, then it usually indicates that there is something going on at a deeper level that is preventing those exercises from working as well as they could.
So, how do you know you need chiropractic care?
It is when you are doing the physical exercise, strengthening, and stretching activities that you are supposed to do, but there is still something not quite right. That is when you may need a chiropractor.
#4 - How do you know what type of chiropractic care you need?
Simply because you have tight muscles or your spine is not moving normally does not always mean that is the place where you need an adjustment.
Alas, there are many chiropractors who may imply nothing more than general spinal manipulation. That is, they click and crack on the high points of the spine, which may produce movement and feel good (or not) for a little while, but never creating any longer-lasting change.
I would make the argument that chiropractic is far more than general spinal manipulation.
It is the precise application to know where a specific correction is required in the spine and where it is NOT.
How do you know the difference? Simple: you do some tests first
You wouldn’t let a surgeon operate on you unless you had some tests first to determine if you actually need it, and so the same should go with chiropractic in my opinion.
There may be many types of tests that a chiropractor may use in order to determine where you may need an adjustment. One of the most common is known as “palpation” where your chiropractic doctor feels along your spine to detect the areas are that are or are not moving properly.
Many chiropractors will do additional testing procures to see what is going on beneath the surface by taking a specific x-ray or 3D image that helps show the exact location, direction, and degree of misalignment in your spine. That way, any treatment can be individualised based on your own bone structure.
Furthermore, many chiropractors will also do neurological testing in order to assess if your body is function properly. Remember what we mentioned earlier about a subluxation? That is is where a vertebra is affecting body function?
Well, simply because a bone may be misaligned does not always mean that it should be adjusted if it is not causing a problem. Therefore, there needs to be some level of discernment to know what you actually do or do not need.
In our own practice, we use a combination of palpation, posture analysis, thermography (heat graphs, which reflect nerve and muscle activity), and 3D x-ray imaging to determine where and when you may need an adjustment,
However it is done, it is very important when working with a chiropractor that you have scientific tests performed to determine where and when you need an adjustment.
#3 - Do you need an adjustment every single time?
Let’s say you go to your dentist, and every time you go you need the exact same cavity re-filled. You’d probably be wondering, “Why do you need the exact same thing done every single time? Shouldn’t it last longer?”
It is sometimes a criticism against chiropractors that they have to do the same adjustment every single time that you come in, day-after-day, week-after-week.
Granted, it is common that when people have injuries of the spine that they are subject to relapse. Unlike a cavity, your spine IS designed to move. And if the muscles and ligaments that support your spine have been injured for a long time, it is likely that they will relapse into their misalignment positions.
Add to it that we live on a planet with time, gravity, and the continued stress of daily living. So until anyone has a cure for all three of those, it is unlikely that any person EVER will need only one adjustment and everything can be fixed forever (it does happen, but is rarer).
Nevertheless, over a period of time what we should expect is that people are actually improving, which means that they are not adjusted on every visit and that their condition is actually stabilising.
So, what this means when you are choosing a chiropractor is that you may want to consider a chiropractor who does NOT actually adjust you on every visit, but uses their tests in order to determine if/when you do need an adjustment … and if not, to allow your body to heal.
Ideally then, over a period of time, your condition should be expected to improve where things are stable for weeks, months or even years at a time!
So, not only do you want to have your chiropractor perform specific tests to know when you do need an adjustment, you also want those tests to be able to show that your condition is actually improving so that you don’t need the same adjustment every single time you come in!
That is the measure of progress when your OWN body is able to maintain its alignment and heal on its own.
#2 - Is chiropractic care safe?
Based on the research that has been done, chiropractic has an excellent safety record when correctly applied.
Again, we make a huge distinction between general spinal manipulation - i.e., twisting, popping, and “cracking bones” - and a specific chiropractic correction,
Like any medical or healthcare treatment, there is an inherent possibility of adverse effects. Side effects are listed on all medications and supplements. And even exercise or stretching can have the potential to cause additional injury,
This is another reason why doing the right kinds of tests in advance is important in order to minimise the potential for risk. Nevertheless and despite our attempt to do the best we can, there can still be certain risks associated with healthcare. Chiropractic is no exception.
The most common adverse effects that people may experience are headaches, muscle pain or dizziness. While these are not desirable, they are not always negative either because if your body produces change with blood flow or muscle activity, a certain level of discomfort may actually be normal!
Still, any such effects should be very short-lived.
The problem happens when the wrong adjustment is performed, when too much force is used or if the adjustment is performed improperly.
First, to minimise the potential for the wrong adjustment, this is why we perform 3D x-ray and neurological testing first so that we can measure the body’s response to any adjustment to select the option that has the greatest chance of success with the least chance of risk.
Second, the vertebrae of the spine typically move only 10-20mm and misalign only 2-5mm. What this means is that it oftentimes does not take massive amounts of force in order to restore normal movement.
It is our philosophy that it is easier to start higher and build up the force IF we need to than to adjust with WAY TOO MUCH FORCE and try to scale back after the damage is done.
Third, any adjustment should be performed in a mechanically “congruent manner.” The major concern is taking the neck and twisting it, which may have the potential to damage the blood vessels that go to the brain.
Because our specific focus in chiropractic is on the relationship between the neck and the brain, we know that rotatory moves (i.e., twisting or cracking the neck) are often not the most appropriate way to correct misalignments in the neck.
We find that in order etc reduce risk but also to maximise the potential for a favourable outcome that it may be preferable to adjust the neck WITHIN its normal range of motion without twisting it.
That way, we may be able to minimise any associated risk and still be able to produce positive outcomes with the least amount of force: only as little as you may need to click a pen.
In summary, it is important for any chiropractor to consider exactly what they are doing with you, and that specificity and care are always at the forefront of their minds in order to help you get the best possible chance for success with the least risk of injury.
#1 - Do you and your chiropractor have reasonable expectations?
Some people expect that 20 years of pain and degenerative arthritis can be fixed in a single session.
Some chiropractors say that it will take regular adjustments 3x week for 9 months before you get any changes
Well, which is it?
In reality, neither of these polarities is a reasonable expectation. Again, this is why it is so important to have the right kinds of tests done BEFORE starting care so that you and your chiropractor know what is a reasonable exaction for you,
Because everyone is different and should be treated that way, in our opinion.
Nevertheless, there are principles that may be valuable to know.
One important one that we believe is true is that it takes 1 month for the body to heal for every year that the underlying problem has been there.And that presumes that there are no complications with the healing process and is true even if you have only experienced pain until just recently. That said, healing occurs in stages and phases with expected outcomes along the way.
One of the principles that we advocate is that no matter who you are or what you do, it must be clear that you are getting progress within 12 weeks. Shorter then that may not be a fair go. Longer than that without results, you might actually be doing the right thing … but in the wrong order.
Remember what we said earlier about chiropractic and physiotherapy. You may be doing all the right exercises BUT if your spine is still locked because you need an adjustment, they aren’t able to work the way it is supposed to but then, if correction the motion through your spine resolves that issue, then your experiences may actually be able to work the way that there are designed.
This is the importance of reasonable expectations. In our practice, we expect to see positive change with it 3 months of care that we are measuring all along the way with our physical and neurological tests.
That way, we know early on if we are spinning the wheels and need to try another approach. We also know early on if you are going in the right direction, in which case we are able to tailor your care based on how well you are responding.
That way, nothing is set in stone and we are able to make adaptations as we go along.
That is the one guarantee that we can make in an uncertain world: it is that we will do our best to help you accomplish the goals that you desire.
Atlas Chiropractor Brisbane
So there you have it! The 5 things you need to know before considering chiropractic care.
We hope that this article has been useful for you. Indeed, people have different needs and preferences, and so we know that we are not going to be the right for everyone.
But if you are the kind of person who believes it is more important to treat the cause and not just the effects, then you are in the right place.
Our practice, Atlas Health, is the premier Blair upper cervical chiropractic healthcare centre in Australia. Located in North Lakes (north Brisbane), our focus is on the relationship between the alignment of the vertebrae at the top of your neck and how they can affect the function of your brain and nerve system.
Our focus is on helping people, many of whom have been everywhere else and have had all kinds of other tests only to be told “everything is normal,” find long-term solutions so that they can get back to enjoying the things in life that they love most.
We use the latest technology including laser-guided posture analysis, infrared neurological scans, and three-dimensional x-rays to provide the highest quality care that we can.
Our principal upper cervical chiropractor, Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, is an advanced certified instructor with the Blair chiropractic society. He is an international presenter, author, and recognised leader in the field of upper cervical chiropractic care.
If you would like more information about Blair upper cervical care, Dr. Hannah offers a complementary 15-minute over-the-phone consultation where you can discuss your individual health needs and ask any questions so that you can decide if care may be right for you.
Simply click the Contact us link at the top of this page, or call us direct at 07 3188 9329 to schedule your no-obligation consultation today.
Atlas Health Australia - “Hope, healing, and wellbeing from above-down, inside-out.”
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