Many people are becoming more aware of their own health and taking a more active approach to maintaining it. In the past it has been very common to pop a pill for every ailment but increasingly people are looking for alternatives. One area of heath care in which this is particularly evident is in physical medicine. People with musculoskeletal type problems including some types of back pain and neck pain are no longer content to take painkillers. Increasingly there is a tendency to seek out manual treatments for their physical problem. This is where chiropractic comes in, as chiropractors use manipulation to restore normal joint movement and function, thereby reducing pain.

The problem is that many people who could clearly benefit from chiropractic treatment ( are hesitant to try any physical therapy because they are worried how uncomfortable the treatment will be. This article will help to alleviate your concerns, providing straight forward explanations of what chiropractic treatment involves, and how it can benefit you.

At your first appointment your chiropractor will discuss your problem with you, this is called a case history and involves asking you specific questions about how long the symptoms have been there, how the problem came about and movements or activities that make the symptoms worse. After finding out all the details about your problem your chiropractor will then perform an examination wherever the problem may be. This involves testing flexibility, strength, testing for areas of tenderness and specific diagnostic tests. Although gowns will be available for your use, some people find it helpful to change into a pair of comfortable shorts and/or a vest top to make examination of knees, ankles, shoulders and other areas easier and more comfortable, so think about taking a pair of shorts or a vest top along to your appointment.

Following an in depth consultation and examination your chiropractor may offer treatment almost immediately. However, it may be delayed for a day or two is she/he needs to order x-rays or obtain any other information from your GP. Before starting treatment, your chiropractor will tell you, in clear, simple language, what the diagnosis is (ie. what is wrong with you), what can be done about it and what you should expect when you receive your first treatment. You will probably be told about any exercises or changes to your lifestyle that could help speed your recovery. You will also be advised of the estimated time of recovery; the amount of treatment needed, and advised of the cost of further treatment.  

Once you have had the diagnosis and treatment plan fully explained to you, treatment can begin. Chiropractic treatment involves safe, specific spinal manipulation to free joints in the spine or other areas that are not moving properly. This manipulation requires a short thrust to a joint that can result in an audible ‘popping’ sound and may bring relief of symptoms. The ‘pop’ is simply the sound of bubbles of gas popping in the fluid of the joint as the pressure is released. The goal of treatment is to get you better but with all types of physical treatment there may be some post-treatment tenderness. Getting movement back into stiff areas and working on the muscles can cause some achiness the following day or two but this is usually replaced by improvement in symptoms soon after.

As well as manipulation, your chiropractor may use a variety of techniques including ice, heat, ultrasound, exercise and acupuncture as well as advice about posture and lifestyle. If you have questions about any of these, just speak to your chiropractor.

If you’re not sure as to whether chiropractic is the best way forward, there is always the choice of seeing a physiotherapist. If you’d like to find out more about how physiotherapy can help you, then click here for further information.

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