A chiropractor is a healthcare practitioner who specializes in the diagnosis and manipulative therapy of dysfunctional and misaligned joints. They have unique training qualifications in manual adjustment techniques used to eliminate misalignments in the spine that cause health problems. The primary goal of chiropractic care is to improve the function of the body and reduce any pain you may be experiencing on your joints or spine.
Chiropractors help you improve your quality of life by providing education about maintaining your health, exercise, and ergonomics that will get you on the road to wellness. This article looks at what chiropractors do and why they are go-to health care providers for people with musculoskeletal conditions.
- Physical Examination of the Spine
The initial chiropractic consultation is quite similar to a standard medical intake. A chiropractor needs to know about your health history and will ask you to point out the areas you are feeling discomfort by marking them on a portrait of the human body. This is usually followed by an exam that focuses on the spine while giving attention to areas of complaint raised by the patient.
They also conduct a neck exam since a subluxation or injury in one area can cause secondary irritation on other areas of the spine. Typically, a physical exam involves a variety of assessments such as reflex testing, palpation, muscle strength comparisons, a range of motion tests and neurological tests focused primarily on the complaints of a patient.
- Developing a Treatment Plan
Based on the physical exam, your chiropractor can develop a treatment plan that suits your condition and personal preferences. This treatment plan takes into account the extent of your injury or irritation, condition of your spine, your general health, and most importantly, your goals for chiropractic care. The discussion you have with your chiropractor determines your goals of treatment. Some people seek relief from pain or discomfort while others simply want to improve their general health.
A chiropractor gives you information about the status of your condition and recommends the best approach to care. Trust and mutual understanding are very important in any professional-patient relationship. Therefore, it is important to tell your chiropractor everything about your condition including the medical history of an existing illness.
- Chiropractic Adjustments and Care
Adjustments are often considered the central part of chiropractic treatment. It involves a series of therapeutic manipulation techniques that use direction, leverage, controlled force and velocity directed at specific joints on your body. Your chiropractor will make these adjustments on your spine or other joints such as the knee, ankle, neck, and shoulder to improve joint function and restore structural alignment.
Proper extremity function is an essential part of healthy living and proper structure is necessary for proper function. When being treated for neck or lower back pain, you will most likely receive a series of adjustments separated by a few days or weeks. This is purposely done to provide relief from pain and improve the normal function of the joints. Chiropractic adjustments or treatment might continue for several weeks often diminishing in frequency. You may receive mild or non-force techniques if you cannot tolerate the manual adjustments. They are often accompanied by non-manual therapies such as electrical stimulation, application of heat or ice, rehabilitative exercise and orthotic support for your shoes.
Health Education and Counseling
A patient may also receive counseling about healthy diet, weight loss, nutritional supplements, and other lifestyle factors. Chiropractic care promotes healthy living and disease prevention by educating patients about the need to improve their quality of life. This program includes a mental health session with a licensed clinician that helps you understand and manage your condition. It uses empirically validated methods of cognitive-behavioral modification to reduce the stress on your mind and body. Patients who receive chiropractic health care and counseling develop good life habits that help them manage their existing conditions.
Chiropractors are not medical doctors but graduate as doctors of chiropractic degrees. They attend graduate-level health colleges to treat musculoskeletal disorders that cause pain and discomfort at the joints, muscles, nerves, and ligaments. Chiropractors not only treat neck and back pain but also help with other conditions that affect the bone and soft tissues. They believe that the spinal column can become strained or stressed because of physical overuse or disuse causing imbalances within the nerves, blood supply, muscles, and overall immune system. Spinal manipulation and other adjustments done by chiropractors help restore structural alignment and improve joint function, which in turn promotes a strong immune system and a better lifestyle.