What kind of education and training do chiropractors have?

Chiropractors are educated as primary contact health care practitioners, with an emphasis on neuromusculoskeletal diagnosis and treatment. Preparation for the practice of chiropractic is concentrated on three areas: basic training in the biological and health sciences, specialized training in the chiropractic discipline, and extensive clinical training. Becoming a chiropractor in Canada requires a minimum of 7 years of post-secondary education including no less than 4 years of full-time classroom and clinical instruction at an institution approved by the Council on Chiropractic Education Canada.

What conditions do chiropractors treat?

Chiropractors are experts trained in the neuromusculoskeletal system. They diagnose and treat disorders of the spine and other body joints by adjusting the spinal column or through other corrective manipulation. Chiropractors provide conservative management of neuromusculoskeletal disorders including, but not limited to, back, neck and head pain (over 90 percent of conditions treated). They also advise patients on corrective exercises, lifestyle and nutrition.

What happens during a treatment?

During your first visit, the chiropractor will want to know about your health history as well as your current complaint. Your home and work life as well as your level of physical activity may also affect your health, so don’t be surprised to be asked questions about these.
Although chiropractors use their hands for most treatments, they also use other methods such as heat, cold, specialized adjusting instruments, ultrasound, electrotherapy, personalized exercise programs, muscle-testing and balancing. Your chiropractor can also give you information and guidance on how you can stay healthy through proper nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes.

What results can I expect from treatment?

That depends on your condition. The length of time you have had the problem, your age and the degree of your disability all affect the length of your treatment. Your chiropractic doctor should tell you the extent of treatment recommended, and how long you can expect it to last.

One of the main reasons people choose chiropractic is that they often get quick results. Individual cases vary and chronic conditions obviously need more treatment, but Workers’ Compensation Board studies show that people with low back pain get back to work much faster with chiropractic care.

You might also consider the benefits of regular chiropractic care even when you feel healthy. Sometimes you won’t know you have a disorder of the neuromusculoskeletal system until it becomes acute and painful. So, just as you see your dentist to have your teeth checked and your optometrist for eye exams, regular visits to your chiropractor can catch related health conditions early, often preventing them from developing into major problems. Remember, your spine is every bit as susceptible to wear and tear as your teeth and your eyes so you should look after it.

How is chiropractic adjustment performed?

Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is a manual procedure that utilizes the highly refined skills developed during four intensive years of chiropractic education. The chiropractor typically uses his/her hands to manipulate the joints of the body, particularly the spine, in order to reduce pain, and restore or enhance joint function.

Chiropractic manipulation is a highly controlled procedure that rarely causes discomfort. The chiropractor adapts the procedure to meet the specific needs of each patient.

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.