questions and answers by Dr. Brad Lohrenz - Halifax, Nova Scotia Chiropractor
(Please send along any questions you may have.)
Q: What is Chiropractic?
A chiropractor is a doctor who evaluates your health and uses specific techniques to improve it. Chiropractic techniques are non-invasive (nothing into your body and nothing out) and they are non-drug and non-surgically based. To be a chiropractor you need to meet the pre-requisites, pass chiropractic school and a series of national and provincial (state) examinations.
Chiropractic is a branch of the health sciences which focuses upon the body's neuromusculoskeletal system. A chiropractor is concerned with how your body's skeletal and nervous system is functioning. Since your spine is the key highway for your central nervous system, a chiropractor is trained to use a variety of diagnostic methods to examine and treat your spine and bone structure. Doctors of chiropractic seek out and correct spinal misalignments or subluxations, which can decrease movement in the joints of the body and create a reaction in the surrounding ligaments, muscles and nerves, affecting the body’s ability to heal itself and function optimally.
Although the major focus of chiropractic is on the spine and central nervous system, your chiropractor is concerned with the wellness of your whole body. Since your nervous system determines how well you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally, many problems you are experiencing may be related to a problem with your spine and nervous system.
Modern chiropractic health care is one of the most effective methods of health care available. As an evidence-based healing method it is highly refined and focuses on the source of pain not just the symptoms. Regular chiropractic care will help maintain, restore and enhance your health without drugs or surgery.
Chiropractic is a regulated health profession recognized by statute in all Canadian provinces and American states. The benefits of chiropractic care are will recognized by other health practitioners.
The word “chiropractic” comes from a combination of the Greek words “chiro” and “praktikis” meaning “done by hand”. Hippocrates, who is regarded as the founder of modern medicine made the first recorded references to spinal manipulation.
Today chiropractic is one of the largest primary contact health care professions in Canada with over 5,500 practicing chiropractors. Approximately 4.5 million Canadians use the services of a chiropractor each year.
The doctor of chiropractic is an effective source of preventative and wellness care.
The anatomical focus of chiropractic care on the human spine has created the perception of the chiropractor as just a "back doctor." This perception is very much incomplete. Doctors of Chiropractic use the nervous system to access and help many aspects of people’s health. Your nervous system covers your entire body. So if you have a health problem ask your chiropractor, they can often help in ways you did not think of. If you need other health intervention, you will be referred. Chiropractors are also a highly appropriate resource in matters of nutritional counseling, stress management, alternative health techniques, injury prevention, postural correction and work-place safety.
The practice of chiropractic is based on sound scientific principles.
The existence of the nervous system as the primary control mechanism of the body is an undisputed scientific fact. Its relationship with the spine is the focus of the practice of chiropractic. The spine develops in-utero to provide two primary functions: (1) allow for freedom of movement and (2) house and protect the spinal cord. When the vertebrae of the spine become misaligned through trauma or repetitive injury, two major consequences will result: (1) the range of motion becomes limited and (2) spinal nerves emerging from the spinal cord are compromised. DCs (Doctors of Chiropractic) use the term "subluxation" to describe such disruptions. Interruption of nerve flow can eventually lead to pain, disability, and an overall decrease in the quality of life. Conversely, the removal of that interference has been shown to have significant, lasting health benefits. Through the adjustment of the subluxation, the doctor of chiropractic endeavors to restore normal nerve expression. The body is then able to respond appropriately to any imbalance in the system, thus relieving symptoms and restoring health.
Q: Is chiropractic care safe?
The process of chiropractic adjustment is a safe, efficient procedure which is performed thousands of times every working day in Canada.
There is a lack of actuarial data that would justify any conclusion that chiropractic care is in any way harmful or dangerous. Chiropractic care is non-invasive; therefore, the body's response to chiropractic care is far more predictable than its reactions to drug treatments or surgical procedures. Approximately 4.5 million Canadians use the services of a chiropractor each year, complications are exceedingly rare. Perhaps the best summary statement on the subject of safety was published in 1979 by the Government of New Zealand which established a special commission to study chiropractic. They found:
"The conspicuous lack of evidence that chiropractors cause harm or allow harm to occur through neglect of medical referral can be taken to mean only one thing: that chiropractors have on the whole an impressive safety record."
Chiropractic is Safe.
Records form insurance and court cases have constantly shown that chiropractic is the safest portal of entry health care available to the public today. Although no health care procedures are 100% safe, chiropractic stands on its record of safety and effectiveness unmatched in health care. To learn more about the safety record of chiropractic, please visit the website Chiropractic Is Safe at www.chiropracticissafe.org.
Doctors of Chiropractic receive extensive, demanding professional education on par with medical doctors (MDs).
To receive the doctor of chiropractic degree, candidates must complete extensive undergraduate prerequisites and four years of graduate-level instruction and internship at an accredited chiropractic institution. Comprehensive knowledge of all systems of the body and diagnostic procedures enable the DC to thoroughly evaluate a patient, address disorders relating to the spine and determine the need for referral to another health care provider.
Q: Is Chiropractic effective?
Chiropractic care has grown steadily in utilization over the past century. It has gained in popularity with the people despite huge opposition from many organizations and competing factions. To me, the bottom line is that if chiropractic didn’t work, it wouldn’t continue to grow. It grows because people are satisfied with the profession and the results. As a matter of fact, there have been several published studies that show that chiropractic has one of the highest patient satisfaction records among health care providers. (Patients are consistently satisfied with the care they receive in a chiropractic office over that which they have received from other health care providers.) WCB studies have also shown that chiropractic will get people back to work quicker on the average than drugs and / or physiotherapy or massage.
Doctors of chiropractic provide effective, low-cost health care for a wide range of conditions.
Studies conducted, according to the highest scientific standards and published by organizations not affiliated in any way with chiropractic institutions or associations, continue to show the clinical appropriateness and effectiveness of chiropractic care. One of the most recent, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health, stated emphatically that:
"On the evidence, particularly the most scientifically valid clinical studies, spinal manipulation applied by chiropractors is shown to be more effective than alternative treatments for low back pain...There would be highly significant cost savings if more management of low back pain was transferred from physician to chiropractors."
Q: Why should I see a Doctor of Chiropractic?
There are many reasons to see a chiropractor. When you are sick or sore you may choose the health profession you wish to approach. Chiropractic offers you a healing alternative that is non-drug and non-surgically based. You can go and find out non-invasive, safe ways of dealing with your issues.
Also, many people find that regular visits to their chiropractor keeps them in peak condition. This is an element that is missing from most other health care professions. Where do you go to get tuned up and remain healthy? To your chiropractor, of course! Chiropractic offers one of the only systems of preventative health care available on the market today.
From professional athletes to homemakers, engineers to electricians, young people to seniors, chiropractic care has been the answer to optimum health. Regularly a dentist checks our teeth, an optometrist checks our eyes and a medical doctor checks our blood pressure and heart. Yet, we take the spine - a crucial component of our body - for granted. Call your family's Doctor of Chiropractic today because regular checkups of your spine can help you maintain better health.
Q: How long do Doctors of Chiropractic go to school?
Today's graduating Doctors of Chiropractic have studied and trained in a post-secondary college or university for at least seven years. Just like medical or dental students, they must first complete undergraduate study before applying for admission to a chiropractic college.
Becoming a chiropractor is a demanding and highly rewarding path that includes a minimum of 4,500 hours of intense academic study including classroom learning, clinical science and internship training. During the course of their training, he/she will have studied the following three areas:
· Basic sciences, including anatomy, physiology, pathology (the study of diseases), biochemistry, clinical sciences, X-ray interpretation and differential diagnosis
· Training in the philosophy and practice of chiropractic
· Clinical internship with emphasis on hands-on practice
Your chiropractor is a primary contact provider just like your family physician, optometrist or dentist. You do not need a referral from your medical doctor to see a chiropractor.
Q: Are chiropractic treatments appropriate for children?
Yes, children may benefit from chiropractic care. Infants whom have had a traumatic birth often benefit from a chiropractic check-up. Children often experience many types of falls and blows from activities of daily living as well as from participating in sports. Kids are physically active. Many people believe that kids are resilient; however, injuries and an active life may cause many symptoms including back and neck pain, headaches, stiffness, soreness and discomfort. It’s great to bring your kids into a chiropractic office for their problems and injuries, as we offer non-invasive, and drug free care. It is also important that kids receive a periodic chiropractic check up, as it will help them grow up stronger and healthier. Chiropractic care is always adapted to the individual patient. It is a highly skilled treatment and in the case of children, very gentle.
Q: What is a chiropractic problem?
Chiropractic is an inroad to the health care system. Like your doctor of medicine (MD), your doctor of chiropractic (DC) is trained to examine and diagnose your problems. The chiropractor is assessing your body and looking for dysfunctional or weak areas.
Our approach to care is non-invasive first, correct the subluxations and normalize your body. If a problem can be dealt with naturally without putting things into your body or taking things out, we feel this route should be utilized first. If not, we will refer you to the appropriate health practitioner, or discuss other options open to you.
Try the least invasive, most natural way first. Chiropractic is SAFE, NATURAL, and NON-TOXIC.
Chiropractic’s way is to make your body more normalized, to allow it to work to its optimum potential - removing dysfunctions (subluxations) that weaken your bodies own immune and healing systems. Make your body stronger first. Let it do what it’s made to do!
Drugs, surgery and more radical (and invasive) procedures may be necessary in some circumstances - but try natural first.
Your nerves are attached to every cell, organ and tissue in the body. It is your body’s communication system, and it allows the brain to coordinate all function (movement, strength, balance, immune system, healing system and organ function). Your spine, due to its location, has a direct affect on your nervous system. Subluxations physically affect your spine and in turn they negatively affect your nervous system, which decreases your health and performance.
No matter what the degree of your sickness, pain or disease is, you don’t want subluxations. They will always negatively affect your body’s performance. If you are sick, you need all your abilities. The adjustments may be all you need. In the event that you require further help (herbs, drugs, surgery), you have started from the most natural and non-invasive and moved from there.
Q: If I go to a chiropractor, how long will I need to go?
Chiropractic has a tremendous track record. Our goal is to get you to good health and peak performance as quickly as possible. However, each condition heals at different speeds. The doctor will choose techniques which are personally tailored to get you and your condition better as quickly as possible.
Many patients, particularly children, respond quickly to chiropractic care. They tend to present for care soon after the injury and they don’t have as many pre-existing conditions. Adults are more likely to wait to “see if it will go away”. When a problem has been left for a long time, it will take longer to correct. Often people turn to chiropractic for the first time only after they have lived in unhealthy bodies for many years. It could be that a problem has been building, and only now shows pain or symptoms. (Your body may have been hiding problems from you for a long time.) Apart from sudden health changes that may result from trauma, the development of disease is often a slow, gradual process. What could have been corrected in a few treatments in the early stages may take weeks or months before improvement is evident. Correction or the restoration of proper biomechanics, removing the subluxations, and strengthening the area may take even longer. It is for this reason I believe in having regular spinal checkups from childhood onward. Take care of the small problems before they compound and become BIG problems.
We all hope your problems are not significant and will respond quickly.
Q: If I go to a chiropractor, how often will I need to go?
When you go to your chiropractor, they will look at your condition and determine what is appropriate for you now! How long you see a chiropractor is your choice. We will recommend a treatment plan based on the outcome of your assessment.
There are many factors to be taken into consideration when determining your own plan of care. Examples would include degree of injury, length of time between injury and care, location of injury, previous injuries, your general health and shape, your job, how strong the area has to be, your lifestyle, your level of activity and many other personal variances.
Please note that the care plan you are quoted following your examination is expected to give you optimum recovery. It is always best if you try to stick to the suggestion. Re-examinations will give you and your doctor a window to change your frequency.
If you are unsure, please ask your chiropractor.
Q: I have heard that once I go to the chiropractor, (s)he will make me come back all the time. Is that true?
NO – It is always up to you how long you decide to benefit from chiropractic care!
Chiropractic is not addictive; however, many people choose to make regular chiropractic care a part of their lives.
Chiropractic works to normalize and strengthen your body. It will not weaken your body or loosen your joints. It is very safe and natural.
The philosophy of chiropractic is to get healthy and to stay healthy! The chiropractic approach to better health is to detect, reduce and prevent subluxations. This will allow your spine and nervous system to function at higher or peak levels. The only way that this can be achieved is to have your spine checked regularly.
Consider this analogy: You have been to the dentist and (s)he has worked on your teeth. After the dentist has made the appropriate corrections (i.e., filling, braces), did you feel that you never had to worry about your teeth again? Or, did you leave with the understanding that it is to your benefit to continue brushing your teeth and having future checkups?
I hope you realize that preventative maintenance of your teeth (brushing and checkups) is essential to keeping your teeth healthy. This same approach should be used for your body. Regular chiropractic care, along with proper nutrition, posture, and exercise are essential to keeping your body healthy.
Chiropractic checkups keep your body, spine and nervous system functioning at a higher level. Peak performance of your body is the objective, regular chiropractic care is the way! Be all that you can be!
Q: What is a Subluxation?
Life is a series of stresses – these and other stresses affect your body:
- Sports - Too much/not enough food - Family Crisis
- Work - Not enough exercise - Stress
- Sitting - Overuse - Busy times
- Carrying - Accidents - Bad Posture
- Lifting - Too much partying
- Negative Attitude
These stresses, as well as others cause tensions in your body. Your body reacts to these stresses and tensions and tries to balance itself, or adapt. These adaptations sometimes fully correct the problem and sometimes they do not. Unfortunately, we are often left in a state that is less than perfect. Your body uses the musculoskeletal system (the bones and the muscles) to adapt. Your spine is your main structural support and will take the brunt of these adaptations. These problems often result in abnormalities in motion and position of the spine. We call these SUBLUXATIONS. Subluxations restrict your body’s ability to function.
Chiropractic works to remove subluxations, or balance the negative affects of stress. SUBLUXATION (sub-luk-sa’shun) - a condition in which one or more vertebrae are out of alignment to such an extent that a nerve is impinged and the normal transmission of nerve energy is obstructed. Interference to the flow of nerve energy causes a disturbance of bodily functions and increases the susceptibility to diseases.
Stresses (of all types – physical, chemical and emotional) cause subluxations. Subluxations stop your spine from working correctly. Your spine, due to its location, has a direct affect on your nervous system. Your nervous system is your body’s communication system; it allows the brain to coordinate all function (movement, strength, balance, immune system, healing system, and organ function). Subluxations negatively affect the nervous system. You don’t want subluxations!
Chiropractic’s goal is to detect, reduce and remove subluxations, so you can achieve and stay healthy!
Q: Why does my chiropractor tell me to come back?
“I know when I feel I need an adjustment; I will come when I feel I need it.”
If only things were that simple. The truth is that your body is much smarter than you give it credit for. Your body has a whole series of “fail-safes” built in. When it is subjected to injury and stresses (causing subluxations), the first thing it does is to turn on your “fail-safe” systems. Your body tries to compensate for the weakened area. It tries to hide the injury from the conscious mind. Quite often you have injuries (subluxations) which your body has compensated for. You do not feel them! You are functioning at a level lower than optimum, but you do not feel it. Your productivity is decreased, but you feel no distinct symptoms such as pain, stiffness or soreness. Subluxations are BAD. They will decrease and limit your health. You do not want them! You want to be strong to fight unforeseen injury, bacteria, viruses and/or disease. The stronger your body is, the less chance it will have to get sick.
Your chiropractor may use several different methods of evaluation and diagnosis to monitor your condition and your health. Before dropping out of care, ask why he believes you should continue. There may be components of your problem for which you are not aware!
Also there is the issue of preventative health. Once you have completed your cycle of care, your will often be given a choice to continue on with care at the office. We promote regular chiropractic checkups. Our objective is to correct subluxations to keep your body at its best. Our idea of health care is to have you stay healthy, not only to treat you once you are sick.
Q: Does your office direct bill?
Yes, we do direct bill for Blue Cross, GWL and Greenshield, some Manulife, some Sunlife (excluding Federal), etc. We have recently been approved to direct bill for students at Dalhousie University, Saint Mary's and MSV. We have student pricing.