Chiropractors study for 6 years, and in some universities around the world train together with medical students for their first 3 years of study. In South Africa, Chiropractic students need to have completed a masters degree before graduating. Doctors of Chiropractic are primary contact doctors (which means that one doesn’t need a referral to see a Chiropractor). A Chiropractor is a clinical spinal specialist trained in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of neuro-musculo-skeletal conditions.
Chiropractors evaluate the biomechanical structure and function of most notably the spinal and extremity joints & related structures (like muscles, tendons, and ligaments).
When you see the Chiropractor, the doctor will take a thorough history of your condition; examine you (by doing things like analysing your posture, testing your range of motion and using orthopaedic and neurological tests); establish a diagnosis; discuss the diagnosis and treatment options with you; and then treat you using a variety of treatment modalities (please see a list under the title Treatments Used).
Chiropractors may refer for blood tests, x-rays, scans and other diagnostic evaluations to help establish the diagnosis. They may also refer to G.P’s, Orthopaedic or Neurosurgeons, amongst others when deemed necessary, to help manage their patient’s condition(s).
Doctors of Chiropractic will use various methods of treatment, including (but not limited to):
- manipulation / mobilisation,
- massage / deep frictions,
- dry needling / acupuncture,
- orthotic prescription,
- strapping / bracing,
- recommendations (patient stay active & sometimes rest),
- ergonomic advice (correct work & sleep postures), and
- patient education, amongst other things.
Everyday activities, including falls or accidents, lifting of heavy objects, or even high stress levels, can cause things like pain / stiffness / discomfort. The majority of these NMS conditions involve the joints, muscles, sometimes nerves, or a combination of these. The joints linking the vertebrae (in the spine) and in the extremities become fixed / restricted, which lead to joint dysfunction and possible nerve irritation, commonly resulting in surrounding muscle spasm and trigger points developing. These all cause pain / stiffness / discomfort as well as referred symptoms like pain, tingling, numbness and other symptoms to surrounding structures like the arms and legs.
- Babies & children
- Pregnant ladies
- The elderly
- Athletes and active people
- Office & factory workers
The average number of treatments (for mechanical spinal complaints) varies depending on the condition, but is usually between 3 to 4 treatments (some needing less and others needing more). This course of treatments should usually be performed over a relatively short period of time (approximately a week to 10 days).
Chronic conditions or symptoms (usually lasting longer than 3 to 6 months) may require check up’s from time to time following an initial short course of treatment by the Chiropractor. This will be determined and discussed by the Doctor, but is usually between every 1 to 3 months, depending on the history, severity of symptoms, and aggravating factors present in the patient’s life (eg: ongoing stress).
Yes. Medical schemes will pay. Some will simply pay from medical savings accounts, whilst others have certain funds dedicated to Chiropractic visits. This all depends on what scheme one is on and what plan within that scheme.
Some plans may not pay for Chiropractic, simply because they don’t have a savings fund. Other plans may require the patient to be referred by a designated service provider. If you have any further questions, it is best to check with your medical scheme first.
As with anything in life and every medical intervention, there are certain risks. Those related to Chiropractic care include:
- the aggravation of an inflammatory condition,
- NeuroMusculoSkeletal strain / sprain,
- bony dislocation or fracture, and
- very rarely – a vertebral artery syndrome.
However, the statistics show that you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning (1 in every 100 000) than suffering a complication of manipulation (1 in every 1 000 000).
80-90% of us will suffer back pain at some time in our lives. It is the 2nd leading reason why people visit a health care professional & is second only to the common cold for doctors’ visits throughout the world. Low back pain is the most common reason for visits to orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, occupational medical practitioners, and chiropractors. It is the 3rd most common reason for surgery.
10 MOST COMMON INDICATIONS (ALL ACUTE, SUBACUTE, & CHRONIC)
- Back pain (mid & low back eg: facet & sacroiliac syndromes).
- Neck pain (incl Torticollis & Whiplash).
- Headaches (Tension-type, Migraines & Cervicogenic).
- Shoulder pain (eg: frozen shoulder, rotator cuff tendonitis, & impingement syndrome).
- Sciatica & arms pains (pinched nerves & slipped discs).
- Hip pains / injuries (incl buttock, thigh & leg pains).
- Knee & calf pains / injuries (incl meniscal, ligament, tendon).
- Ankle sprains & foot problems (eg: plantar fasciitis, flat feet, metatarsalgia).
- Elbow (eg: tennis elbow), wrist (eg: carpal tunnel syndrome), & hand joint pains / injuries.
- Muscle pains & sports injuries.
OTHER COMMON INDICATIONS (NEURO-MUSCULO-SKELETAL CONDITIONS)
- Symptoms related to osteoporosis, arthritis & fibromyalgia syndrome.
- Coccyx / buttock pain.
- Structural / functional syndromes (eg: scoliosis, ‘skew’ hips & shoulders, anterior head carriage).
- Pelvic pains (eg: osteitis pubis, hip flexor strains).
- Rib joint injuries / pain.
- Post-operative spinal pain.
- Postural problems (poor work & sleep postures).
- Infantile colic.
- Pains related to stress & tension.
- Tingling / pins & needles in the arms & / or legs.
The word Chiropractic means “done by hand”. It is a medicine-free & surgery-free health profession developed in the USA in 1895. Chiropractic has become the 3rd most used primary health care profession in the world after medicine and dentistry.
Some people may have. However studies show that most people don’t injure themselves. Conditions usually develop (sub-clinically- without symptoms) over a period of time until the person suddenly or gradually becomes symptomatic. That’s usually when most people are seen for their problem, sometime after developing their symptoms.
Many patients will feel immediate relief of their symptoms, with increased flexibility and decreased pain.
Some patients may feel a little tender (post-treatment soreness). This is usually very temporary and generally peaks the night of treatment and the next day, but will improve by the evening following treatment, and the patient usually feels better than before their appointment.
Cracking in the body can occur for several reasons. The cracking of joints when performed by a Chiropractor is usually the release of gas from between the joint spaces, and usually involves an increased range of movement of the joint immediately thereafter.
Some patients tend to use heat to soothe their symptoms. However following treatment, one should generally use an ice pack over the affected area for about 5 to 10 minutes at a time, on the half-hour, every half-hour, for 1-2 hours anytime during the day.
The ice may cause a burning, aching and eventually the area should go numb to the touch. This will help relieve any post-treatment soreness but also acts as a natural, cost-effective, topical, anti-inflammatory!
No. Most patients with acute conditions (usually lasting less than 3 months) will not require ongoing management after an initial short course of treatment. Chronic conditions (usually lasting longer than 3 to 6 months) may require check up’s from time to time.
Studies show that Chiropractic patients take fewer days sick leave, spend less time incapacitated, avoid medication (for pain relief), have less chance of needing back surgery, and have less chance of their problem becoming chronic.
A plethora of studies show Chiropractic to be superior in terms of safety, effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and in patient satisfaction. Chiropractic care in the USA costs up to 50% less than comparable medical care & requires 50% less sick leave before returning to work.