Q: What is Chiropractic?
A: Chiropractic is a non-invasive, hands-on health care discipline that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and preventative care for disorders related to the spine, muscles, joints and nerves of the body.
Q: Who are Chiropractors?
A: Chiropractors are primary health care practitioners who apply a holistic approach by addressing the patient as a whole. Treatment plans are comprehensive and individualized and may consist of a therapeutic exercise plan, nutritional advice and lifestyle counselling in addition to soft tissue therapy and chiropractic manipulation.
Q: What is an Adjustment?
A: An adjustment, also called a manipulation, is a highly-skilled and precise movement usually applied to a joint of the body by hand. The intent of an adjustment is to reduce pain and stiffness, improve mobility and restore function to the affected area. With this procedure, the patient may hear a “cracking” or “popping” sound that is caused by pressure changes within the joint. These pressure changes cause a gas bubble to escape from the joint capsule, which creates the sound.
The adjustment rarely causes the patient discomfort; instead most patients experience immediate relief following treatment. The Chiropractor is trained to modify the procedure and positioning based on the individual needs of each patient.
Q: Are Chiropractic adjustments safe?
A: Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest, drug-free, non-invasive therapies for the treatment of headache, neck and back pain. It has an excellent safety record. However, all health treatments have potential adverse effects.
Most patients experience immediate relief following a chiropractic adjustment, however, some may experience temporary pain, stiffness or slight swelling in the treated area. Rare adverse effects include temporary dizziness, local numbness or radiating pain. If a patient does experience these symptoms following an adjustment, they are typically minor and short-lived.
Q: Are Chiropractic Neck adjustments safe?
A: Yes. Neck adjustments are a safe and effective therapy for the treatment of headache and neck pain. However, all health treatments have potential adverse effects. Most patients experience immediate relief following a chiropractic neck adjustment; however, some may experience temporary pain or stiffness in the treated area.
Neck adjustments, particularly of the top two vertebrae of the spine, have on rare occasions been associated with stroke and stroke-like symptoms. However, the ratio generally accepted by the research community ranges between one to two events per million neck adjustments. This statistic is much lower than the serious adverse events associated with many common health treatments such as long-term non-prescription pain reliever use or birth control pills.
An extensive commentary on chiropractic care, published in the February 2002 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine (a journal of the American College of Physicians), reviewed more than 160 reports and studies on chiropractic. It stated the following with regard to the safety of neck adjustment: "The apparent rarity of these accidental events has made it difficult to assess the magnitude of the complication risk. No serious complication has been noted in more than 73 controlled clinical trials or in any prospectively evaluated case series to date." A Canadian study, published in 2001 in the medical journal, Stroke, also concluded that stroke associated with neck adjustment is so rare that it is difficult to calculate an accurate risk ratio. The study was conducted by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. In this study the authors stated: "The evidence to date indicates that the risk associated with chiropractic manipulation of the neck is both small and inaccurately estimated. The estimated level of risk is smaller than that associated with many commonly used diagnostic tests or prescription drugs." The most recent research into the association between neck adjustment and stroke are biomechanical studies that assess what strain, if any, neck adjustments place on the vertebral arteries. The preliminary findings of this ongoing work indicate that the neck adjustment is done well within the normal range of motion and that it is "very unlikely to mechanically disrupt the VA [vertebral artery]."
There are many risk factors for stroke including blood clotting problems, hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol, birth control pills, heart problems and trauma such as blows to the head from car accidents, sports injuries or falls. Some strokes happen spontaneously with no obvious cause during activities of daily living such as backing up a car. A patient’s health history and activities have to be examined very carefully in order to determine the most probable cause of a stroke.
Chiropractors have extensive training in the warning signs and symptoms of stroke. These signs and symptoms are screened for in the initial history and physical examination and before each treatment is administered.
Q: What education do Chiropractors have?
A: Chiropractors must complete a minimum of three years of undergraduate studies before attending the rigorous four-year program at Chiropractic College. In addition to their Chiropractic studies, they must pass comprehensive Canadian licensing examinations regulated by their governing body and remain in good standing in order to practice.
Q: What conditions do Chiropractors treat?
A: Chiropractors treat a wide array of conditions and injuries affecting the muscles, joints and nerves of the body. Conditions commonly treated by Chiropractors include:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Repetitive strain injuries
- Nerve entrapment syndromes
- ITB Syndrome
- Shin splints
- Plantar fasciitis
Q: What can I expect when I visit a Chiropractor?
A: Your first visit to a Chiropractor will be approximately one-hour long. It is helpful to arrive about 10-15 minutes before your first appointment in order to complete the necessary paperwork. Your initial appointment will include a comprehensive history and thorough examination to confirm the cause of your problem, and to ensure all contributing factors are addressed. Following your examination, your Chiropractor will discuss the assessment findings with you and will provide a treatment plan customized to your specific needs. Treatment plans are individualized to each patient and may consist of a therapeutic exercise plan, nutritional advice and lifestyle counselling in addition to soft tissue therapy and chiropractic manipulation/mobilizations. On most occasions, patients receive treatment on their first visit.
On your first visit to a chiropractor, the following questions may be asked:
- Your present condition
- The steps you have taken to manage your condition
- Your personal and family medical history
- Your medication use and dosage
- Past surgeries, operations or injuries
- Whether you have had previous imaging studies (X-ray, MRI, CT, etc.) – If so, please bring the radiology report or a copy of the films
- Diet and exercise habits
- Sleeping habits, daily activities, work routine, stress level and home life
In order to perform the physical examination, please wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Your chiropractor may ask you to change into a gown in order to perform some of the following tests:
- Postural observation and gait analysis
- Range of motion testing
- Analysis of specific movements (Orthopedic testing)
- Examination of joints and muscles
- Reflex, strength and sensation testing
- Blood pressure
Follow-up visits are usually 15 minutes in length.
At the end of a treatment plan, your Chiropractor will perform a re-assessment to determine your progress. At this time, your treatment plan may be modified in order to address your current needs.
Q: Do I require a doctor’s note in order to visit a Chiropractor?
A: In Canada, Chiropractors are legislated as primary health care professionals and are regulated by provincial statute. Therefore, you can consult Chiropractors directly without requiring a referral from your medical doctor.
Q: Is Chiropractic a regulated profession?
A: Chiropractic is regulated by provincial statute. Each province has a regulatory college, established by legislation in the same manner and with the same structure and similar regulations as the regulatory bodies for other health care professions.
Regulatory colleges are responsible for protecting the public, setting standards of practice, assuring quality of care, evaluating and promoting competency and handling disciplinary issues.
Q: How do I book an appointment?
A: Dr. Draper works at two clinics in Toronto: Balanced Body Active Health Clinic and Liberty Clinic. Click here for contact information for these clinics.