We often bump into people who ask what IS chiropractic? Some people answer “isn’t it some kind of engineering?”, other people say “isn’t it for removing bunions” and others might say “it’s to cure back pain”. Well, the last one is the nearest, but, actually we don’t just cure back pain. Chiropractic is from the Greek ‘chiro’ (hands) and ‘practic’ (practice) i.e. treating using the hands.
Chiropractors receive thousands of hours of training in the medical sciences, in radiology/ radiography, diagnosis and chiropractic adjusting technique, spread over a full-time 4/5-year Bachelors and Masters degree course at one of three universities in the UK. Following this, they have to undergo and year’s pre-registration period of mentoring, observations, patient case histories and a research project, under the Royal College of Chiropractors, in order to achieve their Doctor of Chiropractic qualification and to register with the General Chiropractic Council.
That’s all very well, but what can they do for patients? Well, chiropractors are able to treat any joint in the body – that is – any point where two bones meet and move against each other as a result of the surrounding muscles contracting. This includes, yes, vertebrae in the low back and pelvic joints, but it also includes the elbows, wrists, finger and toes joints, knees, hips, ankles, shoulders, jaw, ribs, and even the plates of the skull. Where those bones meet, the surfaces can sometimes become stuck and inflamed, leading to nerves (passing through that joint) to become trapped and muscles becoming tight, leading to cramping or spasm in the muscles. Using a very fast hand movement in a specific direction, chiropractors are able to free those joint surfaces, so restoring the movement and reducing any inflammation, taking pressure of the nerves and allowing the muscles to relax.
Mostly, as we’ve said, they use their hands, along with a special jointed bench that allows for traction and drop-pieces that can accelerate the effect of their hands pushing on a joint. Also, though, at Elstead, we use a range of soft tissue methods as well – the sort of things that you might expect a physiotherapist to use, such as ultrasound, deep tissue massage, acupuncture, electrodes, stretching, kinesiotaping (the brightly-coloured elastic tape that you see on athletes these days) and, most importantly of all, involving the patient in his/her recovery by setting a series of exercises to do at home.
So what sort of symptoms do they treat for? – anything from pain or aching in the back or neck, sciatica (pain down the leg to the foot), jaw tension, headaches/migraines, tingling in the feet or hands, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder, runner’s knee, policeman’s heel, yoo0u name it – it’s quite a list! Chiropractors are trained to look at the body as a whole, and approach each condition from the question of ‘where is the cause?’, and ‘what is the knock-on effect of the main symptom area’. So, we don’t look at the symptom area in isolation and we look at trying to restore the function and remove the cause of the problem so it doesn’t return – in other words, the treatments gradually become prevention.
If you’re thinking that maybe you should get in to see a chiropractor, just give us a call on 01252-703633 to book your first 50-minute New Patient Exam – this where your chiropractor will take your medical history and carry out a more through physical examination than many of our patients say they have had in their lives! The chiropractor will explain everything that the tests have shown in detail, so you’re clear about what’s going on in your body. After that, if you’re happy to start, then we can get to work on putting the problem right and getting you out of pain!