What is Physical Therapy?

The treatment of disorders with physical agents and methods, such as massage, mobilization, manipulation, therapeutic exercises, cold, heat (including shortwave microwave, and ultrasonic diathermy), hydrotherapy, electric stimulation, and light to assist in rehabilitating patients and in restoring normal function after an illness or injury.  Also called physiotherapy & fysiotherapie.

What is Chiropractic?

According to The Association of Chiropractic Colleges, "Chiropractic is a health care discipline which emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs and surgery. The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health."

What is the difference between Chiropractic and Physical Therapy?

There is a significant and very important difference between the way a chiropractor and physical therapist or medical doctor approaches health ailments. 
When evaluating and treating patients, chiropractors take a holistic approach which includes identifying and correcting the cause(s) of the patient's health ailment. In contrast, the medical approach tends to focus more on the treating the symptoms of a condition rather than focusing primarily on the actual cause(s).  Chiropractors believe that correcting the cause of the problem provides significant long-term benefits over only treating the symptoms.

Why are so many MDs referring to Chiropractic Doctors now?

A tremendous amount of research has shown the effectiveness of chiropractic care for conditions such as low back pain. Medical Doctors who refer to chiropractors do so in the best interest of their patients.

Should I ask my medical doctor's opinion before consulting a chiropractor?

You are certainly entitled to ask your MD’s opinion on chiropractic, but be aware that some general practitioners may still have limited knowledge on chiropractic manipulative therapies.  Chiropractors are trained to recognize disorders beyond a chiropractic scope of practice and when to refer a patient to the appropriate medical specialist.

Once I am adjusted by a Doctor of Chiropractic, do I have to keep seeing a chiropractor forever?

NO! We care for problems in one of 3 phases of care. Patients always choose the level of care they desire.

1. AcuteCare Goal - Relieve Pain.
Most patients show improvement within the first 2 to 5 visits. Initial treatment usually works best when a person is seen frequently for a short period of time.
2. RehabCare Goal — Correct Bio-Mechanical Problems
Chiropractors restore pain-free motion and improve strength with continued joint mobilization, muscle therapy and posture exercises. Learning new body motion patterns helps change how you move so you can feel good and be well.
3. WellnessCare Goal - Prevention & Performance
Regular therapy and intelligent LifeHabits help people keep moving, stay active and maximize their HealthSpan.

What is the typical chiropractic treatment?

First, the cause of your problem is determined with a complete examination including physical, orthopedic, neurological, and chiropractic tests. X-rays are taken if necessary.

The doctor will then explain your problem, tell you whether or not he/she feels chiropractic care is indicated, and an appropriate treatment plan will be recommended.

Then, gentle manipulation (or adjustments) to spinal or extremity joints are performed. Physio-therapy such as Ultrasound, Electrical Muscle Stimulation, Cryotherapy, Hydrocollator, and/or Intersegmental mobilization may also be used. In addition, massage can stretch tight muscles and personalized postural exercises retrain poor patterns of body motion.

I was in a car accident.  Should I see a chiropractor?

If you are involved in an auto accident it is important to be evaluated to determine if there is a soft tissue injury.  Chiropractors focus on proper function of posture and the spine, nerves, muscles and ligaments, so the first thing evaluated is evidence of serious trauma such as fractures, etc.  Because the symptoms from a soft tissue injury may not show up until 3-7 days after the trauma, a thorough chiropractic examination is very important. Pain changes how a body moves, therefore after the initial pain improves, the body may adapt to moving differently.  Pain medication and muscle relaxers can mask the pain, but unless normal motion is restored, body motion will be unbalanced. Left untreated, the body adapts to the unbalanced pattern of motion, creating a chronic problem.

Does insurance cover chiropractic?  Is chiropractic care expensive?

Costs vary and generally depend on the number of treatments required to effectively treat your condition. Many insurance policies cover chiropractic services. Coverage varies from policy to policy.  Also, most doctors of chiropractic offer affordable payment plans.  A number of studies have shown that chiropractic care is extremely cost effective when compared to other "medical" forms of care for similar conditions. According to the 1993 Manga Report,
"There would be highly significant cost savings if more management of low-back pain was transferred from physicians to chiropractors. Users of chiropractic care have substantially lower health care costs, especially inpatient costs, than those who use medical care only."

What do chiropractors learn in school?

Many people are surprised to learn that chiropractors extensive education requirements include over 4000 hours of anatomy, pathology and clinical skills.  Prior to attending a chiropractic college, two to three undergraduate years with an emphasis in biological sciences is required. A typical Chiropractic college requires a minimum of four to five academic years of professional resident study involving not less than 4000 hours.

Curriculum includes:
ANATOMY: Myology, Osteology, Histology, Embryology, Spinal Anatomy, Spachnology, Genesiology/Angiology, Central Nervous System Special Senses, Arthology, Human Dissection, And Topographical Anatomy.
PRACTICAL PATIENT CARE: Clinic I, II, III, IV, Emergency procedures, Jurisprudence, Research.
DIAGNOSIS: Physical Diagnostic methods, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Pediatrics, Clinical Human Behavior, Neuro-Musculo-Skeletal Exams/Management, Geriatrics/Dermatology, Visceral Disorders.
PATHOLOGY: Microbiology, General Pathology I, II, Public Health, Hemotology, Neuro-Musculo Skeletal I, II, Cardiovascular/Pulmonary, Gastrointestinal/Genitourinary.
PHILOSOPHY PHYSIOLOGY: General, Cellular Cardiovascular/Pulmonary, Endocrinology, Digestion/Nutrition, Renal, Physiology Lab.
CHEMISTRY: Biochemistry I, II, Chemistry Lab, Toxicology. X-RAY Introduction, X-Ray Physics, X-Ray Positioning, Diagnostic Radiology, Pathology I, II.
TECHNIQUE: Biomechanics, Palpation, Specialized, Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, Pelvic, Principals and Practice.
The courses listed above represent a summary.

What do physical therapists learn in school?

A Physical Therapist has completed an accredited four-to-six-year college program or if educated in a foreign country has met the educational requirements in physical therapy, including studies in biology, basic medical sciences, and clinical experience. Studies focus on the evaluation and treatment of the heart, lungs, muscles, bones, and the nervous system. In addition, physical therapists have passed the national physical therapy examination and an examination on the laws and regulations governing the practice of physical therapy.

What is a disc?

The spine, or backbone, is made of the vertebrae separated by the discs (IVD’s, or intervertebral discs).  A disc is a round pillow of cartilage between the vertebrae. The disc has a leathery outside and jelly in the center. It is the part of the spinal joint which cushions the motion between each pair of vertebrae.

What is the difference between a slipped disc, a herniated disc or a bulging disc? 

They are all the same thing. A herniated, slipped or bulging disc is like a bubble in the sidewall of a car tire. The jelly in the center of the disc pushes the weakened part of the disc outwards creating a bulge. This bulge can press on a nerve or other delicate spinal structures.

Will I be able to resume normal activity after a disc herniation? 

Most likely yes. Recovery time is often directly related to the amount of effort a patient puts into recovery and rehab.  Sticking with your treatment plan and doing your home exercise helps you move, feel and be well faster.

Does medication help low back pain?

Occasionally, yes. Frequently, the relief is only temporary. Unless the cause of the injury is treated, the masking effects of the anti-inflammatory medication provide short term relief at the cost of continued tissue damage and adaptive patterns of motion.

Can chiropractic help my golf swing?

Chiropractic is effective in releasing tension from the low back, neck, shoulders, hips, groin and legs, areas which frequently trouble golfers.  An unbalanced swing causes reduced clubhead speed. Unlocking body motion to improve flexibility and then
improving body balance teaches golfers to move with more fluid movement. Increasing flexibility and range of motion reduces the chance of injury, maximizes performance and makes golf more fun.

Can I golf with a bad back? 

You can reduce spinal stress by decreasing back swing and follow through. By reducing the “X-factor” in their swing(the opposite twisting motion between the hips and shoulders) most golfers can reduce spinal stress.  Golfers using special techniques can learn to utilize gravity to achieve the same if not more power through their swing.  Find a golf instructor who will work with you to make changes in your golf swing and motion patterns.

Can chiropractic relieve back spasms?

Just like a fever is the result of an infection and not the cause of the illness, back spasms are a symptom, not the cause of a back problem.  The spasm is caused by irritation of nerves controlling the spinal joints and discs. These are the same nerves which control muscle contraction in the back. If the nerves are irritated, they produce pain and reflex spasm. A spasm is the body's way of stopping motion to protect an injured joint.  The body can sustain a spinal injury from one big trauma (such as an auto accident) or by the buildup of many small traumas (such as long term unbalanced posture from working on a computer, lifting, or other activity).  Restoring normal motion and allowing the body to first heal, and then move differently, is the most effective treatment.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatic is pain in the back which runs down the back of the leg. It is caused from irritation of the sciatic nerve itself or from pinching of the spinal nerves which form the sciatic nerve.  Chiropractic care is a logical conservative approach to this condition. Reducing the irritation of the nerve by realigning the vertebrae helps many sciatic patients. Surgery is recommended when necessary, but can usually be prevented.

What can help prevent back and other joint problems?

Focused motion exercises consisting of coordinated muscle strengthening exercises and preventive stretching exercises before activity can keep motion balanced, reducing abnormal joint and muscle stress and strain.

How will chiropractic care help arthritis?

Osteoarthritis/DJD is a mechanical irritation of the joint, usually due to unbalanced motion. The joint responds to the unbalanced and stressed motion with formation of bone spurs on the edges of the bone. Maintaining proper motion through a joint can reduce this mechanical damage.

Osteoarthritis is different than rheumatoid arthritis, which is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that attacks the synovium of the joint.

I might have carpal tunnel syndrome.  Should I see a Chiropractor?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) usually begins with occasional hand and wrist numbness. Most people ignore CTS when it is in its early stages. Over time, the numbness persists and turns into pain and hand weakness.  People at risk for CTS include computer operators and anyone who performs a repetitive hand motion frequently.  Early detection and treatment is important. Since different people have different pain thresholds, it’s best to be screened by a trained professional. A doctor of chiropractic can help determine if a problem is on its way to carpal tunnel syndrome, or a temporary, mild ache from overuse.

My neck and shoulders are constantly tight.  Can chiropractic help?

Long term overload of the balancing muscles of the neck and back causes chronic tight muscles, as well as pulling against vertebra of the neck causing nerve irritation, headaches, and other painful stress related symptoms.  Chiropractic helps reduce and relieve stress caused by poor posture, continuous standing or sitting, or muscle tension from mental exertion.

An MRI shows I have a disc problem.  Do I need surgery?

Over half of normal adults with no symptoms will have a disc problem show on their MRI. Although each case is different, most problems respond well to conservative therapies such as chiropractic and massage. It’s your body. View surgery as a LAST resort.

Here’s what the experts say:
*Up to 90% of all spinal MRIs can be read as abnormal say experts even in the complete absence of symptoms. Similarly, many abnormalities seen on CT & Xray films have no clinical manifestations. D'Espiro, N (contributing editor). Patient Care 1998;

*About 30% of a-symptomatic subjects show abnormalities in the lumbar spine by myelogram, CT & MRI. There is a large percent of symptomatic patients with severe complaints in whom testing fails to reveal any structural lesion. Haldeman, DC, PhD, MD. Spine 1990;15(7):718-723.

*On x-ray studies, alarming abnormalities are found in pain-free people. Even the best imaging tests fail to identify simple muscle spasm or injured ligament probably responsible for pain in a substantial percent of back pain patients. Deyo RA, MD, MPH. Low back pain. Scientific American 1998; August:4853.

*The vast majority of people with back and neck pain have muscular pain from scarring & trauma to the muscles. Muscular pain doesn't image. It doesn't show up on a CT scan. Muscle will image on MRI, but painful muscle doesn't look different from non-painful muscle. So surgeons are sort of taught to look through that to look at bony anatomy & neuroanatomy (e.g. the discs) Weinstein J, MD. Spine Letter 1997; 4(9): 46. Haddox, MD, president elect of the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM)

Short-term and regular chiropractic care have a number of benefits including:

  • spinal and extremity pain relief
  • headache relief
  • increased mobility and range of motion
  • decreased stiffness and muscular spasms
  • arthritic joint pain relief
  • increased joint health
  • increased performance and energy
  • increased sense of well being and relaxation
  • increased balance and coordination
  • reduced degeneration and risk of injury
  • enhanced tissue healing
  • decreased tissue inflammation

How Chiropractic Works?

As you may already know, the nervous system is the master controller of all living cells, tissues and organs; orchestrating and coordinating all cellular functions. The spinal column encases the nervous system (spinal cord and nerve roots) and is responsible for its protection. 
Because of this intimate relationship, biomechanical and structural problems in the spinal column can irritate parts of the enclosed nervous system. This irritation can result from noxious inflammatory biochemicals released during tissue injury or may result from direct mechanical pressure. In either case, the functioning of the nervous system is negatively influenced as is the functioning of the cells, tissues and organs which are supplied by the affected nerve(s).  The resulting ailment(s) depends on the cells, tissues and organs affected as well as the extent of nervous system compromise.  In short, because the body's innate recuperative powers are affected by and integrated through the nervous system, correcting spinal abnormalities which irritate the nervous system can lead to a number of favorable results in patients suffering from various, seemingly non-spinal health conditions.

What is a chiropractic manipulation?

In basic terms, the spinal adjustment or spinal manipulation refers to the process in which the doctor of chiropractic skillfully applies controlled force into one or more "subluxated" vertebrae of the spine. The adjustment is also frequently used in the pelvic region to normalize the sacroiliac joints. The adjustment is usually delivered using the hands or through the use of a specialized mechanical tool.

What is that popping sound?

The “pop” sometimes heard is caused by gas bubbles which form and pop as the joint moves fully during the adjustment.

What do spinal adjustments do?

Adjusting helps correct vertebral subluxations. Correcting subluxations reduces pain and inflammation, reduces muscle spasm and tension, normalizes spinal biomechanics and more importantly, can remove nerve irritation and interference which can improve overall health and wellness of the individual. Chiropractic adjustments are the only way to eliminate vertebral subluxations and only the chiropractor is trained to detect subluxations and deliver the chiropractic spinal adjustment to correct subluxations.

Can Chiropractic Help Me?

Chiropractic has helped millions of people worldwide suffering from all types of problems and not just back and neck ailments. Chiropractic works with the spinal column and it's intimate relationship with the nervous system - the major controller of all bodily functions. By optimizing spinal column structure and biomechanics, irritation and stress are removed and health can once again be achieved.  You may be surprised to learn that research studies have provided scientific evidence showing chiropractic care is not only effective in the treatment of back and neck ailments, but can also provide effective relief with children suffering from ear infections, women suffering from dysmenorrhea (painful menses), and a number of other seemingly "non-spinal" conditions. While it's not prudent to guarantee relief from such conditions or claim to "treat" these conditions, chiropractic has successfully helped millions of individuals with all sorts of health conditions by positively affecting the nervous system.

Of course, doctors of chiropractic are best known for their success in treating back and neck problems. Through the use of chiropractic spinal adjustments and other highly specialized chiropractic techniques, chiropractors have established themselves as the back and neck injury specialists. Many medical experts are now coming to understand the true effectiveness of chiropractic care and are recommending major changes in the way our health care system manages many common spinal problems. According to a recent Ontario Ministry of Health commissioned study on low-back pain,

"A very good case can be made for making chiropractors the gatekeepers for management of low-back pain..."

How Long Will It Take?

While treatment lengths vary somewhat from person to person and from condition to condition, there are a few rules of thumb you can follow.   First, newer injuries, if treated appropriately and immediately, tend to respond to fewer visits assuming that major tissue injury has not occurred. Many of these first time injuries can be effectively managed in as little as 3 to 4 visits. Conditions that have been present for greater than 3 months and recurring conditions are generally more stubborn and difficult to manage. Resolution may require 12 visits or more. The only sure way to determine how long your treatment will take is to schedule a consultation and/or examination.

For those of you who believe in just waiting for the problem to "go away" on it's own - understand that the longer your condition has been around, the more treatments it will eventually require to resolve.

Are Chiropractic Treatments Safe and Do They Hurt?

Chiropractic treatments are extremely safe for individuals of all ages - from infants to 100 year olds. Our treatments are safe because we only use natural and noninvasive methods of care. Research consistently shows that care from chiropractors is among the safest care available and is literally light years ahead of traditional medical care in terms of "safeness".
The treatments themselves are generally not painful. In fact, most patients look forward to their treatments as many experience instantaneous relief immediately afterwards. Individuals who present with moderate to severe pain may experience some minor discomfort for obvious reasons, however, care is always gentle, safe and noninvasive. 

What are the Common Injuries Treated by Chiropractors?

Chiropractic has provided effective relief to millions of individuals suffering from back and neck ailments. Chiropractic has also provided relief from many other musculoskeletal complaints ranging from knee and ankle problems to carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow. In fact, musculoskeletal pain or discomfort in any area of the spine or extremity is a candidate for safe, natural, noninvasive chiropractic care. If a condition exists which is better suited for treatment by a medical specialist, chiropractors are fully trained to identify such conditions and make the appropriate referral. However, most patients suffering from musculoskeletal complaints can and are successfully treated with chiropractic every single day.

Common musculoskeletal conditions treated:

  • low back pain and stiffness
  • neck and upper back pain and stiffness
  • mid back pain and stiffness
  • headaches and migraines
  • leg pain, weakness, numbness and tingling
  • arm pain, weakness, numbness and tingling
  • extremity joint pain and dysfunction
  • carpal tunnel syndrome

Chiropractors commonly treat all types of injuries and recognize the unique findings associated with each. For example, it's important to understand that auto injuries often involve a delayed onset of symptoms which commonly surface weeks and even months post-accident. In work injuries, chiropractors routinely look beyond the actual injury and address such things as work station setup, ergonomically correct equipment, and proper work techniques. For sports injuries, chiropractors often check for biomechanical and muscle imbalances as a routine part of the treatment plan. Treating the whole person and optimizing health is what chiropractic is all

Common injuries treated:

  • automobile accident and whiplash injuries
  • on-the-job and lifting injuries
  • sports/athletic injuries
  • slip and fall injuries
  • chronic injuries

What Non-Musculoskeletal Conditions to Chiropractors Treat?

In addition to musculoskeletal problems, chiropractic treatments have also been shown to benefit many individuals suffering from "medical" ailments such as chronic ear infections in children, menstrual pain and irregularities in women, and arthritis in the elderly. Although chiropractic care is not a specific form of treatment for such conditions, research has shown that many "medical" conditions can be caused or aggravated by irritation to spinal nerve roots which share an intimate relationship with the spinal structures. By restoring proper nerve functioning by normalizing spinal structure and function, we believe some individuals suffering from these "medical" ailments can obtain partial and in some cases, full relief.

These are the Non-musculoskeletal conditions which studies have shown benefit from chiropractic care:

      • asthma
      • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
      • dizziness and dysequilibrium
      • dysmenorrhea
      • infantile colic
      • low energy levels
      • otitis media (ear infection)
      • ulcers