Chiropractic is a health profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health. There is an emphasis on manual treatments including spinal manipulation or adjustment’.
World Federation of Chiropractic, 1999
By restoring normal function to the musculoskeletal system chiropractors can play a major part in relieving disorders and any accompanying pain or discomfort arising from stress, lack of exercise, poor posture, and the every day wear and tear that happens to all of us.
Chiropractic has been established for over 100 years, and nowadays, throughout the western world, chiropractors are consulted almost as often as conventional doctors and dentists. This means that you are about to benefit from a tried and tested, highly effective form of treatment.
You can be confident in the knowledge that, in clinical trials by the Medical Research Council, chiropractic has been found to be more effective than hospital outpatient treatment for low back pain (1).
Chiropractic is a holistic form of treatment, which means that your state of health, and your lifestyle, will be taken into account – not just the area that is causing you pain. Advice, and perhaps exercises, will be given to help prevent your problem recurring. Your chiropractor will look at the cause of your problem, not just the symptoms, to help work with you to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence.
It takes six years to become a fully qualified member of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), so you can be fully confident in your practitioner’s skill, expertise and dedication. You will be treated efficiently, or referred appropriately.
In chiropractic, there is no such thing as a standard treatment. You will benefit from individual, personal treatment, tailored specifically to your needs. One of the primary aims of chiropractic is prevention. Early treatment, particularly after injury, and for young children, can prevent future pain.
At your first consultation, which will take between 45 and 60 minutes, your chiropractor will ask you questions about your case history, personal circumstances, health and lifestyle to establish the precise treatment appropriate for you. You will be asked to undress to your underwear and offered a gown to wear for a thorough examination. If indicated you may be referred for further investigation such as scans or blood tests. If your chiropractor diagnoses a problem that will not benefit from chiropractic treatment, you will be referred elsewhere without delay.
After explaining exactly what is wrong and how it is best treated, you and your chiropractor will together structure a treatment plan that is specific to your needs, before proceeding with treatment. If appropriate, this may involve a form of treatment called an “adjustment”, which involves the chiropractor using their hands to deliver small, highly-controlled thrusts to your spine and joints. This process may make a popping sound, due to gas bubbles released when a stiff joint is freed up, but it is rarely painful and often brings considerable relief.
After your first appointment, the follow up visits will last approximately 15-20 minutes and your chiropractor will also suggest exercises and possible changes to your lifestyle that can help you to keep fit, healthy and pain-free. If the original problem was caused by poor posture, your working environment or some other circumstance which is harder to change permanently, it may be worthwhile to continue with maintenance visits at regular intervals throughout the year once the original problem has been treated.
‘Osteopathy is an established recognized system of diagnosis and treatment, which lays its main emphasis on the structural and functional integrity of the body. It is distinctive by the fact that it recognizes that much of the pain and disability which we suffer stems from abnormalities in the function of the body structure as well as damage caused to it by disease’.
General Osteopathic Council, 1998
When you visit an osteopath for the first time a full case history will be taken and the ostoeopath will examine you. You will normally be asked to remove some of your clothing and to perform a simple series of movements. The osteopath will then use a highly developed sense of touch, called palpation, to identify any points of weakness or excessive strain throughout the body.
The osteopath may need additional investigations such as x-ray or blood tests. This will allow a full diagnosis and suitable treatment plan to be developed for you.
Osteopathy is patient centred, which means treatment is geared to you as an individual. Your osteopath should be able to give you an indication of proposed treatment after your first visit. For some acute pain one or two treatments may be all that is necessary. Chronic conditions may need ongoing maintenance. An average is 6 – 8 sessions.
Osteopaths work with their hands using a wide variety of treatment techniques. These may include soft tissue techniques, rhythmic passive joint mobilisation or the high velocity thrust techniques designed to improve mobility and the range of movement of a joint. Gentle release techniques are widely used, particularly when treating children or elderly patients. This allows the body to return to efficient normal function.
Physiotherapists help people affected by injury, illness or disability through movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. They maintain health for people of all ages, helping patients to manage pain and prevent disease.
The profession helps to encourage development and facilitate recovery, enabling people to stay in work while helping them to remain independent for as long as possible.
Physiotherapy is a science-based profession and takes a ‘whole person’ approach to health and wellbeing, which includes the patient’s general lifestyle. At the core is the patient’s involvement in their own care, through education, awareness, empowerment and participation in their treatment. You can benefit from physiotherapy at any time in your life. Physiotherapy helps with back pain or sudden injury, managing long-term medical condition such as asthma, and in preparing for a sporting event.
Physiotherapy work wells for managing back and neck pain. If you see a physiotherapist quickly, this can not only speed up recovery but also prevent the problem happening again. A physio will first check out if you have a serious health problem that may be connected to your back pain. They will then find the reason for your back pain and look at ways to help prevent further problems. Physios offer a range of treatments that have proven to be effective with back pain. These include manual treatments, and acupuncture. Your physio will also advise you on appropriate exercise and pain relief.
Physios are the third largest health profession after doctors and nurses. They work in the NHS, in private practice, for charities and in the work-place, through occupational health schemes.
When you see a physio, they will assess your problem and give you advice. They may give you a physical treatment. Everything you tell the physio will be completely confidential. So that your physio can have a good look at your back and possibly feel your spine, they may need you to remove some clothes. It’s a good idea to dress comfortably and wear suitable underwear.
For more information visit http://www.csp.org.uk/
Remedial massage is a deep, probing type of soft tissue work used to correct muscular, or other types of soft tissue imbalances. The palms and fingers are used to palpate the soft tissues to locate and treat these imbalances.
Massage is a mechanical cleanser of soft tissues and it is often described as working by squeezing toxins (by-products of muscle usage) out of the muscles, although the exact way it helps is not fully understood. Remedial massage with its deeper and more specific pressures is very efficient at this. A remedial massage therapist has highly developed palpation skills which enables him/her to find specific tissues at the root of the problem which may be hidden deep or underneath other tissues or may be only one or two fibres thick.
A remedial massage therapist works by using their palms and fingers to palpate the muscles to locate and then treat muscle imbalances. Treatment is usually a combination of squeezing and stretching taut and congested muscle fibres Squeezing will push out of the muscles toxins (by-products of muscle usage) and fluids that block up the muscle preventing normal pain free use. Stretching stimulates the nerves that control the muscles to further facilitate their relaxation.