Will Treatment Hurt?
Generally, a chiropractic adjustment does not hurt – although there may be some minor short-term discomfort which quickly passes for most patients. You will normally find that follow-up treatments are much more pleasant, as your symptoms improve and you feel more at ease with your chiropractor.
Are there any risks?
Chiropractic has far fewer risks than many other treatments for your problem. Serious side effects are extremely uncommon. Very rarely, manipulation of the neck has been linked with strokes (1:450,000 – 1:5.3 million), although not necessarily related to causation. To put this in perspective, a standard bowel examination (colonoscopy) carried out daily by the thousand through NHS and private hospitals, carries a risk factor of 1:1000). Current research shows that chiropractic is a safe and effective form of treatment for musculoskeletal complaints. Your BCA chiropractor, who is highly trained in his field, will of course, be happy to discuss all your concerns regarding treatment or prognosis.
Do chiropractors use X-rays?
Any decision to take X-rays will be made in consultation with you. At all times, your BCA chiropractor will weigh the risks against the benefits and advise you accordingly. Typical circumstances where an X-ray may be necessary are recent injuries, older patients whose bone structure may have altered over time, unusual examination findings or a history of serious diseases.
Is it a slipped/prolapsed disc?
Spinal discs are fibrous rings, containing a soft gel-like ‘cushion’, between each of your spinal bones (vertebrae). Discs cannot slip, because they are attached to the vertebrae, but the term ‘slipped disc’ can mean disc damage such as a bulge (prolapse), a tear or rupture (partial or total). The resulting pressure or irritation on the nerves that exit your spine can cause pain in your back, or ‘referred’ pain over an area through which the nerves pass. Sciatica, for example, is leg pain caused by nerve irritation or pressure in the lower spine. Your BCA chiropractor will explain the cause of your pain – it may not be a ‘slipped disc’ as many other problems have similar pain patterns.
How long will chiropractic take to work?
Guidelines for medical practitioners state that spinal manipulation can help back pain, especially if carried out within the first six weeks. The longer you have been in pain, the longer it may take to improve with treatment. Your chiropractor will advise you of your likely recovery time, and how to minimise the chances of the problem happening again. Early treatment is important but chiropractors are also effective at treating long-standing or chronic pain.
Is chiropractic treatment possible after surgery?
Probably. Your chiropractor has the training and experience to treat each patient as an individual. You will receive appropriate treatment and adjustments for your specific condition, while areas not suitable for treatment will be carefully avoided. Many chiropractors are able to offer post-surgical exercise, advice and rehabilitation.
Is it safe to adjust the neck?
Yes, 66-99% of visits to a chiropractor include cervical (neck) adjustments. Recent publications suggest that chiropractic treatment is extremely safe, when carried out by a skilled individual.
How about wearing a collar?
Although in the acute stage a soft collar may be worn for a short time, patient’s collars should not be relied upon unless specifically prescribed by your clinician. It is important, therefore to listen to your chiropractors advice and where necessary follow an active treatment plan prescribed by your chiropractor or your rehabilitation coordinator. Ergonomic advice and an exercise programme to help support the muscles and joints of your neck may be deemed clinically appropriate for your condition.
Is rolling your head good for your neck?
No. Many people in the past have been given neck or head rolling exercises to help stretch their necks. However, the joints in your neck are really designed for single movements like turning or looking up, down, left or right – not all of these movements together. A safer exercise may be just to do each of these movements individually.
What’s wrong with taking painkillers?
Painkillers can dull your pain, but it may well return as they do not necessarily deal with the cause. They may also have side effects. Regularly taking painkillers to treat headaches (i.e on more than 15 days a month, every month) can actually cause more headaches.
How could lifestyle changes help?
Stress may often be the trigger of cervicogenic headaches and muscular pain in the neck. While chiropractic often helps, better results are obtained from treatment if you change some stressful habits. There are also certain substances in food and drink, and some mineral deficiencies that may be related to headaches. Small adjustments to your lifestyle can often make major changes to the quality of your life. Your BCA chiropractor may advise you about these.
What if it’s something serious?
If your chiropractor feels that chiropractic treatment is not appropriate for the cause of your headaches, you will be referred to your GP or to a suitable specialist.
There was no pain straight after the accident – why has it started hurting now?
The pain from a whiplash doesn’t have to happen immediately after a trauma; often your body can compensate in the short-term for injuries and it is not until weeks or even months later that the pain develops.
I was involved in a high speed accident, and I seem to be fine, but my friend had an accident at 10mph and has severe pain. Why?
Tiny receptors in your neck make sure that when it is stretched very quickly, an immediate muscle spasm will sometimes protect it from harm. However, if the neck is stretched more slowly, the receptors don’t recognise that there is a problem, and the protective mechanism doesn’t kick in, leaving you open to injury.
Rest doesn’t seem to have made it any better? Why not?
It is important to rest for a short period whilst tissues are inflamed. It then becomes equally important that you move your neck, to ensure that, if scar tissue develops, it remains flexible. Chiropractic treatment helps restore appropriate movement in your neck as quickly as possible.
What about just taking painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs?
These can dull your pain, but it may well return as they do not necessarily deal with the cause. They may also have side effects.
How can chiropractic help joints that are already degenerated?
Degenerated joints are sometimes the result of the surrounding joints not doing their fair share of work, so that the load is not managed equally. Chiropractic aims to restore your normal joint function spreading the load and taking excessive strain away from degenerated joints. Your BCA chiropractors can also give you advice on exercise for maintaining joint function.
Can chiropractors help osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis happens when the amount of calcium in the bones (which gives them strength) is very low and leaves them weak and easily breakable. This is particularly common in women past the menopause. However, having osteoporosis doesn’t mean that you will have a fracture. Your BCA chiropractor will be able to use various modified treatment methods to cater for someone with osteoporosis as well as advise on other available treatments. Chiropractic helps to keep your joints mobile and improve your balance and muscle tone to minimise the risk of falling.
Can a chiropractor treat a new-born baby?
Yes, in fact the sooner your baby is checked, the sooner any injury or stresses from the birth can be dealt with safely and gently. Some chiropractors treat mothers and babies as an area of special interest.
Can chiropractic treatment be given during the first months of pregnancy, or in labour?
Yes. Your chiropractor will use safe, often gentle techniques that are suitable for your condition. He or she may also advise you on diet, posture and exercise. Some chiropractors work closely with their local health visitors and midwives.
Don’t children ‘grow out of it’?
Not necessarily. Problems with their spines and nervous systems might not show obvious symptoms for years. Colic, ear infections, learning difficulties or frequent illness may be signs that your child’s nervous system is not working efficiently.
Your Spine? How often should check-ups be?
Chiropractors practise in two main ways: one is to minimise the recurrence of your pain through ‘supportive care’. The practitioner may recommend a check-up every two to six months depending on your original complaint and your lifestyle. The other approach is known as ‘wellness care’. Here, the chiropractor may wish to check you more frequently, as well as exploring with you further ways you can enhance your well-being
Aren’t good diet and exercise enough?
They certainly help, but cannot always deal with an existing problem in the same way as chiropractic. This is because where exercise can improve the overall fitness of your body, chiropractic can target the individual problem areas that are reducing its efficiency.
Isn’t too much chiropractic bad?
Your BCA chiropractor is trained and qualified to diagnose your problem, evaluate when it is appropriate to give treatment and, in particular, when not to. Your case will be assessed on an individual basis. However – no-one should become dependent on any one treatment. If you have concerns, please discuss your treatment plan with your chiropractor.