Chiropractic FAQ

ChiropracticWhat is chiropractic care?

Chiropractic is a non-invasive, hands-on health care discipline that focuses on the neuromusculoskeletal system. Chiropractors practice a manual approach, providing diagnosis, treatment and preventive care for disorders related to the spine, pelvis, nervous system and joints.

Chiropractors use a combination of treatments, all of which are predicated on the specific needs of the individual patient. After taking a complete history and diagnosing a patient, a chiropractor can develop and carry out a comprehensive treatment/management plan, recommend therapeutic exercise and other non-invasive therapies, and provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.

Is chiropractic evidence-based?

Chiropractic is a healing discipline firmly grounded in science. Few other health care interventions have been assessed as extensively as chiropractic manipulation, both in terms of safety and effectiveness. There have been at least six formal government studies into chiropractic worldwide over the last 25 years and all have concluded that contemporary chiropractic care is safe, effective, cost-effective and have recommended public funding for chiropractic services. In addition, there have been countless scientific clinical studies assessing the appropriateness, effectiveness, and/or cost-effectiveness of spinal manipulation or chiropractic manipulation, most notably for low back pain. The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHI) now offers research grants in partnership with the Canadian Chiropractic Association to chiropractors and other scientists for high quality, chiropractic research.

What is an adjustment?

An adjustment is a highly skilled and precise movement usually applied by hand to a joint of the body.  Adjustment loosens the joint to restore proper movement and optimize function. When a joint is adjusted, a gas bubble escapes causing the popping noise you may have heard about.  Chiropractic adjustment techniques have been researched extensively. Complications are rare and side-effects, such as temporary soreness, are usually minor. Your chiropractor is well-trained to determine if your problem will respond to chiropractic care or if you require referral to another health care provider.

Is chiropractic safe?

Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest, drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of headache, and neck and back pain. It has an excellent safety record. However, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects. Even common over-the-counter medicines carry a risk. While most patients experience immediate relief, some may experience temporary pain,stiffness or slight swelling, and mild worsening of existing symptoms; however, adverse effects associated with chiropractic care and spinal adjustment are typically minor and short lived.

Prior to starting any treatment, all health professional are required by law to obtain informed consent from their patients. The chiropractic profession takes this responsibility very seriously and has been a leader in obtaining informed consent. The chiropractor will provide in detail their findings and rationale for their proposed treatment and explain all the relative risks and benefits so the patient can make the most informed decision regarding their health care.

Ontario’s Chiropractors are required in their Standards of Practice to obtain written informed consent prior to treating a patient.

Neck adjustment, particularly of the top two vertebrae of the spine, has on rare occasions been associated with stroke and stroke-like symptoms. This risk is considerably lower than those serious adverse events associated with many common health treatments such as long-term use of non-prescription pain relievers or birth control pills. While estimates vary, a range of one to two events per million neck adjustments is the ratio generally accepted by the research community.

An extensive commentary on chiropractic care, published in the February 2002 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, which is the journal of the American College of Physicians, reviewed more than 160 reports and studies on chiropractic. It states the following with regard to the safety of neck adjustment: The apparent rarity of these accidental events has made it difficult to assess the magnitude of the complication risk. No serious complication has been noted in more than 73 controlled clinical trials or in any prospectively evaluated case series to date.

A Canadian study, published in 2001 in the medical journal Stroke, also concluded that stroke associated with neck adjustment is so rare that it is difficult to calculate an accurate risk ratio. The study was conducted by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and the authors have stated: “The evidence to date indicates that the risk associated with chiropractic manipulation of the neck is both small and inaccurately estimated. The estimated level of risk is smaller than that associated with many commonly used diagnostic tests or prescription drugs.”

The most recent research into the association between neck adjustment and stroke is biomechanical studies to assess what strain, if any, neck adjustment may place on the vertebral arteries. The preliminary findings of this ongoing work indicate that neck adjustment is done well within the normal range of motion and that neck adjustment is “very unlikely to mechanically disrupt the VA [vertebral artery].”

There are many risk factors for stroke including blood clotting problems, hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol, birth control pills, heart problems and trauma such as blows to the head from car accidents, sports injuries or falls. Some strokes happen spontaneously with no obvious cause during activities of daily living such as backing up a car. A patient’s health history and activities have to be examined very carefully in order to determine the most probable cause of a stroke.

Can chiropractors treat: _____?

Chiropractors are highly trained primary care health practitioners who treat both acute and chronic conditions relating to the body’s neuromusculokseletal system. Some common conditions that patients seek chiropractic care include:

• Back pain • Neck pain • Repetitive strain injury (RSI) • Work and sport injuries • Arthritis • Whiplash • Limited range of motion in the spine or limbs • Pregnancy-related back pain • Injuries to upper and lower extremities • To improve performance related to sport • General health and well-being   For many conditions, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care is frequently the primary method of treatment. Where other conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the neuromusculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition. Chiropractors are also trained on when to appropriately refer – they are well trained to recognize risk factors as well as individual disease patterns and will not hesitate to make a referral when it is in the best interest of the patient’s health.

Chiropractic care may also be used to provide symptomatic relief for patients with chronic conditions. According to patient surveys, by treating the neuromusculoskeletal elements of such disorders, chiropractic treatment has been shown to improve the general well-being of the patient.

Does chiropractic care require X-Rays?

X-rays can play an important role in diagnosis and are taken when a need has been determinedafter taking a patient case history and conducting a physical examination. Chiropractors receive 360 hours of education in radiology covering a full range of topics from protection to X-ray interpretation and diagnosis. Governments in every province have recognized the training and competence of chiropractors to take and interpret X-rays and have granted them this right.

What can I expect from my initial visit with the chiropractor?

The initial visit will typically last 60 minutes in duration. Dr. Jennifer Lau will spend this time taking a detailed history of your health and performing a physical examination. Generally, we request that you come 15 minutes before your appointment to fill out a detailed health history form. It is a good idea to wear comfortable clothes and shoes when you visit the Chiropractor. Please bring a copy of any recent x-rays or radiology reports, a list of medications, and medical reports you may have – these will help provide a better picture of your complete health.

Dr. Lau will then go through the findings of the clinical examination and then depending on the results of the clinical examination, she will recommend a unique treatment plan tailored to your specific complaints and/or goals, or, if necessary, will refer appropriately to another healthcare professional. Treatment is typically provided on the first visit once informed consent has been discussed. All subsequent visits last from 15-30 minutes to ensure that your health concerns are thoroughly addressed.

Are chiropractic visits covered by OHIP? Are they tax deductible?

Currently, visits to the Chiropractor are not covered by OHIP; however, most extended healthcare plans cover the costs of chiropractic visits. You may want to check with your extended healthcare plan to determine your coverage. Chiropractic visits and services are eligible for tax deduction. Chiropractic visits and services count as “medical” expenses that can be claimed in the “Medical Expense and Disability Tax Credits and Attendant Care Deduction” section of your tax returns. You do not need to complete any special forms in order to claim services as medical expenses for tax purposes. You only need to provide your receipts for chiropractic visits and services. An official sales receipt will be provided for you at each appointment.

Is chiropractic regulated in Canada?

Like medicine and dentistry, chiropractic is a self-regulating profession, and each provincial chiropractic regulatory body has the authority to grant a license to practice chiropractic. There are Chiropractic Acts in all 10 provinces and the Yukon Territory which establish a self-regulatory process which includes extensive testing for licensure. In all provinces, licensure requirements include university studies followed by graduation from an accredited chiropractic institution, and passing national and provincial board examinations.


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