What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a manual, non-invasive health care profession that focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disorders related to the bones, joints and muscles of the body, with specialization in the nervous system and the spine.
How many Ontarians use chiropractic?
Chiropractic is one of the largest primary-contact health care professions in Ontario, with more than 3,100 practicing chiropractors. Almost 2 million Ontarians use the services of a chiropractor each year to help them live healthier lives.
When should I see a chiropractor?
Many patients seek chiropractic treatment to resolve conditions related to the spine, joints, muscles and nerves. Others find that chiropractic treatment contributes to their overall wellness by allowing optimal mobility, range of motion and independence. Pain should never become a way of life, especially when there is qualified help available. Back pain, for example, is quite prevalent and recent studies have found that 80% of Canadians will experience back pain at some point in their life while at least 33% of people in Ontario will have back pain at any given time.
For many people, pain can interfere with work, school, sports, and even day-to-day activities. If pain causes interruptions and restrictions in the activities of your daily life then you should consult a health care provider. Even if you do not have painful symptoms, you are encouraged to be proactive with your health and should consider chiropractic care to help you maintain healthy spine and joint function before a problem arises.
How are chiropractors educated?
In Canada, prospective chiropractors must first complete three years of university education. Once accepted into the program, prospective Doctors of Chiropractic spend 4 years at an accredited chiropractic institution in a rigorous program that includes courses in anatomy, biomechanics, pathology, nutrition, immunology, biochemistry, physiology, orthopedics, diagnosis, chiropractic principles, adjustment techniques, and more. The chiropractic program consists of more than 4,200 hours of specialized clinical training, including an internship year with patient interactions and chiropractic care under the supervision of licensed chiropractors.
In order to become licensed to practice, the prospective chiropractor must pass national board and provincial licensing examinations. To maintain their licenses, chiropractors are required to participate in approved continuing education courses annually.
What is a chiropractic adjustment?
A chiropractic adjustment is a highly controlled, specific and gentle thrust applied by one’s hands to a joint of the body with the intent to restore proper movement, maintain joint health, decrease muscle spasm, remove nerve interference and optimize body function. Adjustments are low in the force applied and high in the velocity with which they are delivered.
There are several ways in which a chiropractor can perform an adjustment and each approach is tailored to an individual’s needs and comfort level. Adjustments can be performed by using the chiropractor’s hands, the force of gravity, instruments or specialized tables. Most patients note positive changes in their symptoms and overall wellbeing following an adjustment.
What makes the “popping” or “cracking” sound during the adjustment?
An adjustment will often, but not always, result in an audible “popping” or “cracking” sound similar to when a cork is taken out of a champagne bottle or when a soda can is opened. This sound is not your spine or your bones cracking – that would be bad! The sound heard is a release of gas, namely nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide, from within a joint.
Many joints in the human body are known as synovial joints consisting or two intersecting bones with smooth cartilage in between them. A fibrous joint capsule encloses the joint and contains synovial fluid, which helps nourish and lubricate the joint. When an adjustment is applied to a joint, nitrogen gas that was dissolved in the synovial fluid is drawn out of the solution, forming a bubble. When the bubble escapes and pops, this creates the audible sound and this process is called a “cavitation”.
It is important to remember that therapeutic benefits from an adjustment are not dependent on the presence of this audible sound. That is to say that restoration of movement, decreased muscle spasm, reduced nerve interference, and improved body function may be achieved even if no sound was heard.
Are treatment plans the same for each patient?
No. Each patient is unique and each treatment plan should be too. As every individual is unique and responds differently to treatment strategies, the chiropractor adapts the procedure to meet the specific needs and tolerance of each patient. Your treatment plan will be customized to suit your specific condition, goals and health status.
Is chiropractic treatment appropriate and beneficial for children?
Yes. Children may benefit from chiropractic care for the same reasons that an adult would seek chiropractic care to better his or her health. Children are physically active and experience many types of stresses in their daily lives. Chiropractic care is unique to each person and in the case of children, treatment is often quite gentle and adapted to the particular individual.
Are there many athletes who use chiropractic?
Yes. Many amateur and professional athletes use chiropractic treatment as part of their overall health care, fitness and maintenance program. Chiropractic is often used to improve muscle and joint conditioning, reduce long-term wear and tear, shorten the healing time of injuries, and improve biomechanics, all of which has a direct effect on an athletic performance. In the case of professional and elite athletes, chiropractors often work in conjunction with other health care professionals, including medical doctors and/or sports medicine doctors, athletic therapists, massage therapists and physiotherapists.
Can a chiropractor still help me if my problem is mostly muscle-related?
Yes! Chiropractic care has been shown to benefit the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and nervous system, along with having other positive health effects in the body. Most people find that adjustments allow the spine and nerves to function normally, which facilitates the natural relaxation of muscles. Dr. Levi utilizes various hands-on and instrument-assisted techniques to treat the muscular system.
Do I need to have X-rays taken as part of my chiropractic care?
In some cases, the history taking and physical examination findings can be supplemented with X-ray (radiographic) imaging to determine the most accurate diagnosis and plan of management for one’s condition. Chiropractors receive 360 hours of education in radiology covering a full range of topics from safe protocols, radiation protection, patient positioning, X-ray interpretation and diagnosis. Dr. Levi will determine if X-rays are required on a case-by-case and patient-specific basis.
Will I have to see a chiropractor for the rest of my life?
Not necessarily. Dr. Levi will recommend a specific treatment plan based on your individual needs. Some injuries or problems may respond to chiropractic treatment in as little as one or two visits, while others may take longer. Ultimately, you are in charge of your own health and you decide how long to continue to receive treatment.
Many people find that once they see a chiropractor, they enjoy returning for periodic visits to maintain the health and functioning. Some people who perform repetitive actions during their work or leisure activities may find that maintenance care can help with stiffness, aches and pains from their daily activities. Similar to brushing your teeth and visiting the dentist a few times per year to prevent cavities and catch dental issues early, regular chiropractic checkups with Dr. Levi can help prevent painful conditions and help you move, function and feel your best.
Do I need a referral from a Medical Doctor (MD) to receive chiropractic care?
No. A patient does not require a referral from a medical doctor to visit a chiropractor. Chiropractors are legislated as “primary contact” health care professionals in every province in Canada. This means that patients can consult chiropractors directly. However, you are encouraged to contact your private health insurance company as they may have specific referral requirements.
Chiropractors often work closely with medical doctors, many of whom refer to chiropractors when they believe chiropractic treatment will help alleviate a patient’s condition. Similarly, chiropractors frequently refer to medical doctors when necessary.
Is chiropractic and acupuncture care covered under private insurance plans?
Yes. Chiropractic care is covered by most private health insurance plans. You are encouraged to contact your private health insurance company to determine your coverage for chiropractic and acupuncture care.
Are Chiropractors opposed to conventional medical care?
No. Chiropractors are not opposed to conventional medical care. In fact, chiropractors recognize that conventional medical care, including medication and surgery, is appropriate and needed in certain cases. However, chiropractors emphasize the importance of addressing the root cause of a problem and making long-term lifestyle changes towards improved health. Current efforts within the profession are advocating for interprofessional collaboration and many of today’s chiropractors are working together with medical doctors to ensure that we help you to reach your optimal health.