What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic is not only limited to back pain and neck pain, but also traumatic and non-traumatic injuries of any nerve, joint, disc, or bone, as well as headaches, “vertigo”, and other nerve related disorders. Chiropractors are primary spine providers that work with the rest of your health team (Dentists, Family Doctors etc.) to help you reach your health goals.
Doctors of Chiropractic, often referred to as chiropractors or chiropractic physicians, practice a non-surgical, conservative, hands-on approach to health care, that includes patient examination, diagnosis, and treatment or referral. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and can order/take/interpret x-rays and MRIs, prescribe therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, and provide lifestyle counselling.
One of the many therapeutic procedures performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as a chiropractic adjustment, or spinal manipulative therapy (SMT). The purpose of a chiropractic adjustment is to restore nerve and joint function, by manually applying a very specific thrust into joints that have become restricted in their movement. Of course, chiropractors utilize many other modalities and procedures to conservatively assist the body to return to balance. Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as a slip and fall, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time day in and day out. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function for the sufferer. A chiropractic adjustment of the affected joint and associated tissues restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and promote the healing cascade. In many cases, such as spine disorders, chiropractic care is the most cost-effective and safest treatment. When other medical conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition.
Chiropractors undergo rigorous education in the healing sciences, similar to that of medical doctors. In some areas, such as anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation, nutrition and public health, they receive more intensive education than their MD counterparts. Like other primary health care students, chiropractic students spend a significant portion of their curriculum studying clinical subjects related to evaluating and caring for patients. Typically, as part of their professional training, they must complete a minimum of a one-year clinical-based program dealing with actual patient care. In total, the curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience.
This extensive education prepares doctors of chiropractic to diagnose health care problems, treat the problems when they are within their scope of practice, and refer patients to other health care practitioners, when appropriate.
DC – Doctor of Chiropractic
DO – Doctor of Osteopathy
DPT – Doctor of Physical Therapy
MD – Medical Doctor
ND – Naturopathic Doctor
RMT – Registered Massage Therapist
Studies by leading medical journals in recent years have confirmed the benefits of chiropractic care:
A 1993 report by the Ontario Ministry of Health concluded that chiropractic care was the most effective treatment for lower back pain. The agency also recommended that chiropractic care be fully integrated in the Canadian government’s health care system.
In 1994, the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research published its Clinical Practice Guidelines, which asserted that spinal manipulation was effective in reducing pain and speeding recovery among patients with acute low back symptoms, without radiculopathy.
A 1996 New England Journal of Medicine study of outcomes and costs for acute low back pain found that patients treated by chiropractors were significantly more satisfied than those who saw primary care, orthopedic, or managed care practitioners.
A 1996 study in the journal Spine echoed that study and found that patients who sought chiropractic care were more likely to feel that treatment was helpful, more likely to be satisfied with their care, and less likely to seek care from another provider for the same condition, compared to those who sought care from medical doctors.
In 2001, the Center for Clinical Health Policy Research, at Duke University, concluded that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for cervicogenic headaches, or those that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication.
A risk assessment of cervical manipulation vs. NSAIDs for the treatment of neck pain. Conclusion: The best evidence indicates that cervical manipulation for neck pain is much safer than the use of NSAIDs, by as much as a factor of several hundred times. There is no evidence that indicates NSAID use is any more effective than cervical manipulation for neck pain. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8583176
This review identified limited evidence indicating that manual therapy techniques (eg, osteopathic spinal manipulation, physiotherapy consisting of manipulation and mobilization techniques, and chiropractic manipulation), in addition to other treatments or alone, are more cost-effective than usual GP care (alone or with exercise), spinal stabilization, GP advice, advice to remain active, or brief pain management, for improving low back pain and/or disability. Similarly, one study  demonstrated that spinal manipulation, in addition to GP care, was more cost-effective than GP care alone in reducing shoulder pain and related disability. http://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161-4754%2814%2900087-6/fulltext
The doctors at Inside Out Wellness Centre are members of the Bermuda Chiropractic Association.