August 8

My Enemy, My Saviour – A Physiotherapist’s View on Chiropractic

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Reading time 7 min.

Hello, my name is Kevin and I am a professionally trained physiotherapist. I have treated over dozens of patients throughout my life’s work but dealt with my own physical health problems at a chiropractor’s.

Surprised? Let me explain.

As the old proverb says, the cobbler’s children have no shoes. About seven years ago, I was suffering from a growing lower-back pain, so I responded by starting my own regiment of physiotherapy. Treating myself was ineffective, so I finally succumbed to my perceived worst enemy, a chiropractor. For you to understand, the war between physiotherapists and chiropractors is quite extreme. It’s akin to the eternal battle between the Jedi and the Sith, or the battle between the Batman and Joker, and even like the rivalry between Manchester and Liverpool, ultimate Good versus Bad. Can you imagine, me, helplessly moaning with pain and realizing that ultimately my potential solution lay with my own personal demon, my Darth Vader? With my eyes drawn to the ground, I crawled into the chiropractic centre near me.

That day, I made a revelation that I find worth sharing.

What is chiropractic? A short overview.

The word chiropractic’s etymology originates in Greece and literally means ‘done by hand’. Indeed, chiropractic is manual therapy with a focus on the spine with the fundamental idea being how the musculoskeletal system and its function has a direct effect on overall general physical health. This treatment was found to be effective in dealing with lower-back pain, neck pain, headache, arthritis, sports-related injuries and sprains. Any problems that occur due to accidents, restricting work conditions, sports and stress can also be treated by a chiropractic doctor. If you don’t think you have a health issue that is worth a GP visit, but are still suffering from muscular, joint or back pain, you should seriously consider visiting a chiropractor. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, chiropractic can be beneficial for you in terms of preventative therapy as it helps to maintain healthy physical form and function. You can read more about chiropractic in one of these books.

Treatment

Chiropractors use a broad range of methods to diagnose health problems, including manual examination, x-rays or MRI tests. Examinations typically start with reviewing a thorough medical history followed by taking a patient’s vitals. Followed by a visual inspection of the patient’s spine, the chiropractic doctor may check for any visual physical indicators. Afterwards, the doctor goes on to palpating the spine, muscles and supporting soft tissues. To detect problems with the spine, joints, muscles or soft tissues, the chiropractor conducts orthopaedic examinations as well as gauges the joints’ range of motion. Neurological examination is done to test reflexes which can then be followed by an x-ray or an MRI, if necessary.

Having completed preliminary examinations, the chiropractor starts the treatment. Depending on the diagnosis, different techniques might be used with the most popular being Chiropractic Adjustment, or Spinal Manipulation. The patient usually lies down on the adjustment table in the ideal position for specific ailment. The chiropractor might also position limbs to further enhance the effectiveness of the manipulation. With sudden application of high velocity force onto a certain joint or location, a popping sound and feeling takes place, one similar to when cracking one’s knuckles. This is called cavitation – a release of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide – and it is followed by a relieving sensation. This procedure is aimed at enhancing joint function and pain reduction.

Chiropractic treatments and advice includes various techniques such as:

• Chiropractic Adjustment or Spinal Manipulation.

• Joint Mobilisation.

• Exercising & Stretching.

• Massage.

• Daily Physical Activity & Diet Advice.

Practitioners – what to look out for when choosing a chiropractor.

When choosing a specialist, one must remember two simple things. First, before starting the treatment, the chiropractic doctor must make sure they have conducted a full medical history. And second, you need to make sure that the doctor is licensed to be a chiropractor. Licensing requirements differ by country, but if you live in the UK, your chiropractor must be registered at General Chiropractic Council which makes sure their Code and standards are met by chiropractors. In case of failure to meet the standards, the Council has a right to take legal action against the chiropractor. They also require all specialists to carry out 30 hours of professional development training annually.

Safety

Chiropractic is safe but may have some temporary side effects such as soreness, discomfort, and headaches. However, these effects usually go away within several hours post treatment. A 2007 study that included almost twenty thousand chiropractic patients in the UK revealed that soreness is a common side effect that follows the treatment, but the risk of a serious side effect is ‘very low’.

When visiting a chiropractor, it’s crucial to answer all the questions as thoroughly as possible so that the specialist can create a complete medical history. It is also important to choose the right specialist.

Key Takeaways

• Chiropractic is a treatment that is done by hands. In other words, it is a type of manual therapy. Chiropractic helps with lower-back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, sport injuries (and their prevention) but can also address other physical health issues.

• Chiropractic is safe but may have some temporary side effects such as soreness which usually vanishes the following day.

• Providing your chiropractor with as much information as possible will ensure your safety and the effectiveness of the procedure.

• It is important to choose a licensed chiropractor. In the UK it must be a registration with General Chiropractic Council.

It’s not easy accepting certain truths when you approach things with limited beliefs. The revelation wasn’t only mental but a physical one. In total, I went to eight chiropractic sessions near me and my pain disappeared as if by magic. That experience has completely changed my mindset as I accepted the fact that for some people chiropractic is the preferred remedy while for others, physiotherapy could also provide the same relief.

What does this story tell you?

Live with an open mind to practices that you might have negative preconceptions about, collect ample information before making any judgement and remember that we are all unique and what is good for one might turn out to be inappropriate for another. I helped dozens of patients throughout my life with physiotherapy, but then it turned out that my personal answer was chiropractic near me. If you don’t know what would be best for you, talk to a doctor who is open minded about all alternative treatments

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