Chiropractic Care: Your questions answered

Recently I posted about my experiences with a chiropractic care, you can read about this here. I was overwhelmed by the positive response as well as flooded with a number of questions from readers around the country. Given that I am no expert in this field, Dr. David Cahill (a chiropractor based in Melbourne) has kindly agreed to answer these for us. If you are still sitting on the fence re: chiropractic care, I strongly suggest you take a look:

What is the difference between a Chiropractor, Physio and Osteo?
As I am a chiropractor, I can talk with authority only on chiropractic, and detail what I believe differentiates chiropractic from the other two professions. 

Chiropractic has as its objective to detect and correct any interference to the normal flow of nerve impulses throughout the body. The focus is primarily therefore on the cranium, spine and pelvis, the function of which profoundly affect the nervous system. Chiropractic thereby aims to help people achieve their greatest health, naturally, from the inside-out.

The diagnosis and treatment of conditions or symptoms is not the domain of the chiropractor. Good nervous system health is of prime importance, regardless of the presence or absence of any conditions. As such, chiropractors see people of all ages, from newborns to the very elderly. They also see people across the entire spectrum of health, from those who may be very unwell, to finely tuned athletes looking for peak performance.

Both Physiotherapy and Osteopathy would tend towards the treatment of conditions, and not have the same focus upon the nervous system and overall health.

The actual techniques used by the three professions also differ greatly. As for the difference between physiotherapy and osteopathy, you would need to ask them directly.

I don’t experience any real pain or niggles, should I still see a Chiropractor? I feel a bit silly going into a clinic without anything wrong with me? 
Being proactive with your health, and your healthcare, is a very wise choice, and sadly, one that is not often encouraged in our society. Chiropractic is ideally suited to proactive care because it is not about the treatment of conditions; rather it is about the function and performance of the body. Symptoms will often appear a long time after function has been compromised. Wellness and performance based care has been a focus of chiropractors for many years.

I always thought that cracking your bones will give you arthritis, is this true? Surely cracking your bones isn’t good for you? 
Chiropractors make adjustments, which are very specific, controlled and usually very gentle forces. The idea of ‘cracking bones’ is certainly not akin to chiropractic care. Sometimes when an adjustment is made, a cracking noise will be heard from a joint as the fluid within the joint ‘pops’ and becomes a gas. In the hands of a registered chiropractor adjustments are extremely safe. Injudicious cracking, as in a habit with the fingers, can indeed be detrimental and should be discouraged. 

I have been putting off going to a chiropractor, as I am squeamish about the neck-cracking thing. How can you find a good one and avoid the dodgy ones? Also, would it not be better to see a physiotherapist to work on muscles surrounding the neck, otherwise the problem will still continue? (A chiropractor sceptic pointed this out to me)
Finding a good chiropractor is like finding a good dentist or car mechanic. Asking your friends or work colleagues will often point you in a direction. The Chiropractors Association of Australia has a directory on their website (www.chiropractors.asn.au), but personal referral would be my preference. Most chiropractors I’m sure would be very happy to take a phone call to answer a few questions if you wished to put your toe in the water.

As far as seeing a physiotherapist, the professions do very different things, so it really depends what you are looking for. There is nothing to be afraid of regarding your neck. Part of the chiropractor’s expertise is to ensure safety.

What if a person has osteoporosis could the chiropractor break bones?
One reason chiropractors take spinal x-rays is to determine the condition of a person’s bones. Obviously, the type of care given takes this into account, and gentle techniques would be utilised, appropriate to any level of osteoporosis, or indeed any other conditions.

What can cause your spine to pop out of place like that? I can’t remember any falls or knocks I have had recently?
Stresses upon us come in three broad categories – physical, mental and chemical. Any combination of these may be great enough to overcome our resistance. If that happens, it can result in what chiropractors call subluxations, which are disturbances in the function of the spine and nervous system.

Someone told me that if you are a C-section baby, you should definitely book see a chiropractor. Is this true? Why?
Newborns delivered by caesarean section frequently endure spinal stress or trauma during the birth, particularly if the baby has engaged well down into the mother’s pelvis. This would often be the case in an emergency c-section. To have such a baby checked for spinal subluxations is essential.

I have kidney stones and after reading your posts realise there could be nerve connection problem. Is this something a chiropractor could help me with?
A chiropractor wouldn’t treat you specifically for kidney stones. The approach would be to examine your spine and nervous system to see if your overall health could be improved.

How old is too old to see a chiropractor? My mother is frail no longer has any touch sensation in her fingertips. Is she too old to see a chiropractor? 
No one, including your Mum, is too old to see a chiropractor. Part of the reason chiropractors have extensive training at University over 5 years is to ensure they know how to handle people of all ages and all levels of frailty. The golden rule of any encounter with a patient is to firstly, do no harm. Very gentle techniques are used by chiropractors when appropriate.

I am 33 and have had scoliosis since I was a child. Is it too late to see a chiropractor?
Definitely not!