So, You’re a Chiropractor…..
It’s true, my profession can be a confusing one. Not everyone knows what I do all day. Some people have never been to a chiropractor – so what they imagine I do is the reason they are hesitant to see a chiropractor. Rest assured, these myths have little to do with chiropractic. More often than not, what we usually hear from patients is: why didn’t I come in to see you sooner!
Very simply, my job is to make you feel better. That’s why I love my job. Whether it’s a reduction in pain, fewer headaches, improved function, better sports performance or preventative care, it’s so rewarding when patients leave our office feeling better.
Chiropractic is a hands-on health profession (a type of manual medicine) that focuses on the musculoskeletal system. This means that I treat the muscles and joints, while having an effect on the nerves that supply the body. The body instinctively knows what it needs, it’s my job is to remove any interference and to help that happen a little easier. I don’t heal people but I do help speed up the body’s natural healing.
It’s Not Just Backs
Muscles and joints mean more than just low backs. Yes, I treat low back pain – a lot of it! Actually, the Journal of the American Medical Association now recommends chiropractic as a first means in treating low back pain: (http://fox2now.com/2014/07/14/jama-recommends-chiropractic-as-first-means-of-back-pain-treatment/) But I also treat headaches, shoulder complaints, sports injuries, concussions, knee injuries and issues with the joints and muscles in the body. The variety of conditions that I treat ensures that my day is never boring. Not knowing what’s walking through the door keeps me on my toes!
I often get asked if treatment will hurt. Do you really think people would keep coming to me if I hurt them? Not a chance. People may come to me already feeling sore, but every effort is made to work within their comfort zone and ensure that they leave our office feeling better than when they arrived.
What Do Chiropractors Do?
Diagnose as well as treat patients. This means that it is our job to identify the source of your complaint, not just treat the symptoms. Finding out the root cause and tracing things back to the origin of the problem. If I cannot determine the source of your complaint or you need advanced imaging, or to see a specialist, I will work with you and help to refer you to someone who can identify the root of the problem and get you the treatment you need.
People often ask me about other health care professions and if we “get along.” To me, it’s not an either-or situation: it’s not chiropractic vs. medicine or physiotherapy. Chiropractic is amazing and so are the other specialties! There are times when another technique might be able to help you too, or help you better, or sometimes it’s the combination of both. Every patient is different and so is every complaint. That means that you should have your own treatment plan, specially designed for you.
This is one of the reasons that I use a variety of techniques in practice. Treatments may involve joint work, which can include anything from gently moving the joint (mobilizing) to adjusting. This simply involves restoring the joint’s normal movement if it’s become affected. I am also trained in medical acupuncture and active release technique, a specialized soft-tissue technique popular among athletes and other individuals. I regularly use laser or interferential current, or sometimes ultrasound, as well as taping and rehabilitative exercises.
To get you better when there is an ongoing complaint, we need to identify and break the pattern that started your problem in the first place. If there is a poor movement pattern, an overused muscle, or weakness in a certain area, I’ll help you to identify the culprit(s) and return to proper function so the problem doesn’t keep repeating itself. Prevention is one of the unique things about chiropractic: you don’t have to wait until you’re experiencing 10/10 pain intensity to benefit from treatment.
Whether it’s your physician, massage therapist, physiotherapist or another practitioner, it is part of my job to communicate with the other professionals you are seeing to get you the best results possible. In our office, we work together and collaborate to give you the best selection of services to meet your needs. It isn’t an accident that a particular group of health care professionals decided to work together in the same office. The days of one profession versus another are over, we do what’s best for the patient. Period.
How Do We Do It?
Chiropractors are required to complete their undergraduate education at university, followed by 4 years of extensive courses in the systems of the body, as well as hands-on practical training. In comparison with medical school, it’s just as many class hours and years spent training. In some cases, it’s more. What this means is that you should know you’re in good hands when you come in my office. (Pun intended).
I am not a medical doctor, but I did earn the title “Dr.” Just like my colleagues who are dentists, or physicians. Under the Regulated Health Professionals Act, five regulated professions are authorized to use the title in Ontario: chiropractors, dentists, optometrists, physicians and psychologists, and I’m proud to be a part of this group.
One of Life’s “Aha” Moments
With a sister who is also a chiropractor and another who is a nurse, I’m often asked what my parents do. The answer: nothing in health care. It wasn’t until last year when speaking with a colleague that I saw the connection and the light bulb turned on. When I asked him how he’d describe his career after more than 25 years in practice, he said quite simply that it’s like being a body mechanic. A mechanic is defined as “relating to a manual skill; a person who repairs things and keeps them running properly.” I absolutely love problem solving and fixing things so this definition fits pretty well. Being that my dad was an automobile mechanic by trade, I guess I come by this profession honestly.
Just like your car, you might need a tune-up sometimes. Or more extensive work when something isn’t running properly. Even if it’s just for a checkup to make sure everything is working okay. Your body doesn’t deserve less care than your car. Here’s why:
- Health is our most valuable possession;
- It’s a lot easier to replace a damaged car than a damaged body.
Take care of yourself and don’t hesitate to get checked out by your health professional on those days when things are less than perfect!