Chiropractors treat problems with joints, bones and muscles, and the effects they have on the nervous system. Working on all the joints of the body, concentrating particularly on the spine, they use their hands to make often gentle, specific adjustments (the chiropractic word for manipulation) to improve the efficiency of the nervous system and release the body’s natural healing ability.
Chiropractic is a primary health-care profession, so you do not need to be referred by your doctor. A chiropractor is trained to diagnose your problem and will refer you to another health-care practitioner if necessary. Chiropractic does not involve the use of any drugs or surgery.
The effectiveness of chiropractic treatment is supported by research as well as by various UK government and medical organisations. Chiropractic may be available to patients under the umbrella of the NHS, but this will depend on the situation within a specific NHS Primary Care Trust. Otherwise patients see chiropractors in a private capacity either through self referral or as a result of a referral from their GP, other doctor or health professional. BCA chiropractors also treat people who are seeking treatment through private health insurers.
In common with medical practitioners and dentists, all chiropractors are registered by law under the Chiropractors Act 1994 and the title ‘Chiropractor’ is protected under this legislation. The profession is statutorily regulated through the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) and it is illegal to practise as a chiropractor without being registered with the GCC.
We are also members or fellows of the Royal College of Chiropractors.
We are all members of the British Chiropractic Association members and registered with the General Chiropractic Council.
For more information on chiropractic and the BCA click here
There were a lot of similarities between ostoepaths and chiropractors. Both are regulated by an Act of parliament like doctors and dentists; both study for 4 or 5 years for a BSc or MSc degree; both have been going for over 100 years; both use manipulation to treat muscle and joint problems; both have a special interest in treating spinal problems like back pain and neck pain; both advise exercises and lifestyle changes and both are mostly not available on the NHS – yet.
The main things are some subtle differences in the spinal techniques used and probably most important of all – chiropractors will recommend preventative check-ups more often. Whether this is appealling to you depends on whether you like idea of preventing future episodes of, for example, back pain. If you go to a dentist for check-ups you probably like the idea of preventative chiropractic too.
There are a couple of other differences between chiropractors, osteopaths and physios. An important one is that chiropractors are qualified to take and read x-rays.
There are about 2500 chiropractors in the UK. Osteopaths number about 4000. In the rest of the world the situation is reversed with about 60,000 chiropractors and about 10,000 osteopaths. The difference in the UK is probably because there has been an osteopathic college here since the 1920′s but a chiropractic college only since 1965.
There are about 40,000 physios, mostly working in the NHS, whereas almost all osteopaths and chiropractors work in private practice. In the last few years, however, there are several Primary Care Trusts in the NHS employing them. Indeed the 2006 Department of Health Musculo-Skeletal Framework recommends that this should be more common. The NICE chronic back pain guidelines published in June 2009 back up this view.
The difference between chiropractors and physios boils down to spinal manipulation. Whilst a few physios do go on to gain a qualification in manipulation most don’t and it is not taught at an undergraduate level to any great extent. Physios do spinal mobilisation which is less vigorous and less effective for things like back problems in my view.
Chiropractic works by unlocking stiff and dysfunctional joints, especially in the spine. Surely it can’t be that simple! Well no it’s not, but it is a good place to start. Whilst we do get the joints the moving, restoring flexibility decreases muscle spasm and inflammation. But the effects on the nervous system are even more profound.
The nerve endings in the muscles, tendons and ligaments are stimulated by a chiropractic adjustment and this has an important effect on the brain. The pain threshold is raised and the brain improves control of those very muscles and this helps prevent re-injury. The combined effect is to solve the problem and take the pain away.
The effects of a single adjustment last for a few days. Each session builds on the one before so you may need several sessions to get a lasting improvement. It is a bit like getting fit. Going to the gym once may make you a bit sore but you won’t get much benefit without going several times. We will give you a clear idea how many sessions will be needed.
We promise to keep the number of sessions to a minimum. We will discuss the other options for treatment and refer you to someone else if we can’t help.
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