There is a common misconception that chiropractic care involves a singular therapeutic technique – spinal manipulation (spinal adjustment). Chiropractors, however, use a patient centred, multi-modal model of care.
Most Australian chiropractors provide a therapeutic approach to care that incorporates a range of manual therapies which may include spinal adjustment, but also includes mobilisation, muscle and soft tissue techniques along with electrotherapies, exercise prescription, rehabilitation, nutritional recommendations and lifestyle advice. These have been shown to be of benefit to people with a range of musculoskeletal conditions.
When treating patients, chiropractors are no different to any other health professional (including GPs). They make an assessment and develop a treatment plan in accordance with the needs of the patient and provide advice on future management strategies.
More and more, evidence supports early referral and assessment of musculoskeletal pain patients to an appropriately qualified musculoskeletal clinician such as a chiropractor. Chiropractors are not only trained to treat musculoskeletal pain patients, they are also trained to facilitate health promotion and lifestyle advice, rehabilitation and patient education.
Consumers usually seek chiropractic care for back pain, neck pain and headaches, as well as for general health and wellbeing.
Chiropractors use skill, not force or strength to conduct specific chiropractic adjustments. Various types of manual therapy and low force interventions are also used where appropriate.
Chiropractic care has a very low risk profile, especially when compared with more invasive methods of spinal healthcare however, all forms of chiropractic treatment have the potential for adverse reactions in some people.
A chiropractic adjustment is the application of a specific force in a precise direction, applied skilfully to a spinal joint that is fixated, “locked up”, or not moving as it should. This can help improve or restore motion to the joint, helping the spine to gradually regain more normal motion and function.
There are many ways to adjust the spine. Usually the chiropractor’s hands or a specially designed instrument delivers a brief and highly-accurate thrust. Some adjusting methods are quick, whereas others require a slow, constant or indirect pressure.
Restoring better spinal function can help improve mobility, vitality, and endurance.
In short, no! There is no age limit on chiropractic and more and more people are consulting chiropractors, especially in their later years. In order to deliver the safest, most effective and highest quality care possible, chiropractic techniques are modified appropriately for each person at every age and stage of life.
While brief discomfort after an adjustment can occur, it is rare and most people find having an adjustment very relaxing.
With some adjustments you may sometimes feel or hear a popping sound from the spinal joints. This is simply caused by a change in pressure in the joint, as spinal movement is improved.
Some chiropractors use a hand-held instrument to adjust the spine. Others use wedges or blocks to help realign part of the body. Whatever the technique, chiropractors use skill, not force or strength, to care for people with the highest degree of safety and effectiveness.
In Australia, chiropractors share a common tertiary education pathway with osteopaths and physiotherapists and chiropractic education involves undergraduate and/or masters-level university training over five years.
All accredited chiropractic programs in Australia include units in basic and clinical sciences. Also included are units in physical therapy, physical rehabilitation, radiology, nutrition, paediatrics, geriatrics, public health and evidence-based practice.
As with other primary healthcare professions, chiropractic pre-professional training requires a significant proportion of the curricula to be clinical subjects related to evaluating and caring for patients. As part of professional training, final-year students must also complete a minimum of a one-year supervised clinical internship.
All registered chiropractors must complete mandatory continuing education each year in order to maintain registration and practice as a non-pharmacological, non-surgical spine care and musculoskeletal-allied healthcare professional.
All chiropractors must be registered with the Chiropractic Board of Australia and meet the Board’s registration standards, in order to practise in Australia.
Under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory, a person cannot call them self a chiropractor (or hold them self out to be a chiropractor) or undertake manipulation of the cervical spine if they are not registered with the Chiropractic Board of Australia.