FAQ – About Chiropractic

Here are the most common questions patients ask us. You may have the same questions and we hope that our answers below will help you. If your question isn’t answered don’t hesitate to contact us. If you are unsure whether we can help you at Back-in-Action then you may want to take advantage of our Free 15 Minute Case Assessment.

What is chiropractic?
How can chiropractic treatment benefit you?
What are the aims of chiropractic care?
What does a chiropractor do?
What do chiropractors treat?
How do I know if I should see a chiropractor?
What results can I expect from treatment?
How does it work?
What happens during a chiropractic treatment?
What’s a chiropractic adjustment?
What is the popping noise of the adjustment?
What is joint tension?
What causes joint tension?
What is the problem with having a joint that is stiff?
How do I know if I have joint tension?
Could my problem clear up on its own?
Can I adjust myself?
How long until I feel better?
How many adjustments will I need?
How long will I need chiropractic care?
Is chiropractic treatment preventative?
Should I bring in my family for chiropractic checks?
Will I ever be normal again?
Will I need an X-Ray?
Should I get hold of my old X-Rays or other scans?
Who do chiropractors treat?
Can I get treatment on the NHS?
What is the difference between chiropractic and osteopathy?

If you are a new patient and wish to know more about what happens on the first few visits, we have a freqently asked questions page, dedicated to this. We also have other FAQ’s pages: Worries About Chiropractic Care aims to answer any concerns you may have about the chiropractic approach to treatment and for those who are sceptical about the benefits of chiropractic you may wish to look at Doubts About Chiropractic Care.

FAQs First Few Visits To Back-in-Action
FAQs Worries About Chiropractic
FAQs Doubts About Chiropractic

What is chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a healthcare profession that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of joints, particularly those of the spine, and their effects on the nervous and muscular system. It emphasises manual therapy including spinal manipulation and other joint and soft tissue manipulation, and includes corrective exercises, and health and lifestyle counselling.

How can chiropractic treatment benefit you?

Chiropractic care can help alleviate pain and discomfort. Helps you return to normal activity and prevents recurrence. The aim of chiropractic is to promote good health and wellbeing.
• Ease pain naturally
• Effective, cost effective and safe
• High levels of patient satisfaction
• Deal with the underlying cause
• Reduce future recurrence
• Assist natural healing
• Make a quicker recovery
• Stay fit and active for longer
• Enjoy your normal activities
• Learn how to help yourself

What are the aims of chiropractic care?

Depending on the skills of your chiropractor and the therapies he chooses, the aims of treatment are:-
• Reduce pain and inflammation
• Increase tissue healing
• Balance nervous system activity
• Release and realign tight joints
• Improve muscle strength and flexibility
• Support good nutrition and organ function
• Refine posture and body movement
• Help you with ergonomics and exercise regimes
• Assist a healthier mental and emotional life
• Enhance balance and coordination
• Optimise cranial function
• Correct breathing patterns

What does a chiropractor do?

A chiropractor checks your spine, and often your limbs, jaw and cranial bones, to see if you have any misalignments, stiffness or instability. These problems can disturb the sensory feedback from the body to the brain, ultimately making it more difficult for the brain to help keep the body healthy.

What do chiropractors treat?

Chiropractors provide conservative management of a variety of disorders including, but not limited to, back, neck and head pain (over 90 per cent of conditions treated).

Chiropractors treat an enormous range of conditions including:

  • Acute and Chronic Low Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Joint, Muscle and Nerve Pain
  • Headaches Arising from the Neck
  • Prevention of Migraine
  • Foot Knee and Hip Pain
  • Hand, Arm and Shoulder Pain
  • Minor Accident Related Injuries
  • Disk Problems
  • Symptoms Associated with Osteoarthritis
  • Minor Sports Injuries

By helping to improve nutrition, posture, lifestyle and the function of the nervous system, there is some evidence – but more research is needed – that other health complaints can sometimes improve, providing they are not too severe.

How do I know if I need to see a chiropractor?

Chiropractors often help with the kinds of problems where people have been everywhere and not been helped. If you’ve had a serious accident, desperately need surgery or are suffering from a life threatening illness you need medical care. Everything else comes under the scope of chiropractic.

We believe that receiving chiropractic care, to help make sure your spinal joints are moving correctly is an essential part of being healthy. Just like a balanced diet, regular dental check-ups and being active, chiropractic care allows you to reach your full health potential. Everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, needs to move well, think well and eat well. Whether you have a specific problem or not, with regular chiropractic checks help deal with problems before they have a more severe impact. You have regular dental check-ups; you get your car serviced regularly so it does not break down, so why not look after your spine? Remember, your teeth can be replaced, your spine cannot!

What results can I expect from treatment?

Your response to treatment depends on your condition, the length of time you have had the problem, your age and the degree of your disability. Your chiropractic doctor will tell you the frequency and length of treatment typically recommended for your condition.

People choose chiropractic is that they often get quick results. Individual cases vary and chronic conditions obviously need more treatment, but studies show that people with low back pain get back to work much faster with chiropractic care.

You might also consider the benefits of regular chiropractic adjustments even when you feel healthy. Sometimes you won’t know you have a disorder of the joints, muscles, ligaments and nerves until it becomes acute and painful. So, just as you see your dentist to have your teeth checked and the optician for eye exams, regular visits to your chiropractor can catch related health conditions early, the theory being that this helps  prevent them from developing into major problems. Remember, your spine is  susceptible to wear and tear like your teeth and your eyes so you should look after it.

How does it work?

The body is self-healing, providing it is not being damaged in some way quicker than it can heal then all works well. The skill of a good chiropractor is to try and help identify these obstacles to normal healing and find a way to help you deal with it. These obstacles are usually some kind of stress which can be physical, chemical or neurological so a treatment intervention might address any of these. Very commonly chiropractors find one cause of stress on the body is tight joints. To help treat these, gentle manipulative techniques, known as adjustments, are used to restore correct function, mobility and good alignment to the joints. As a result, nerve and muscular function can be expected to improved.

What happens during a chiropractic treatment?

During your first visit, the chiropractor will want to know about your health history as well as your current complaint. Your home and work life as well as your level of physical activity may also affect your health, so don’t be surprised to be asked questions about these.

Although chiropractors use their hands for most treatments, they also use other methods such as ice, specialized adjusting instruments, and personalized exercise programs, muscle-testing and neurological exercises. Your chiropractor can also give you information and guidance on how you can stay healthy through proper nutrition, general exercise and lifestyle changes.

What’s a chiropractic adjustment?

Chiropractic adjustments usually involve a quick thrust that helps to help restore the normal movement of a joint, reduce pain and restore or improve joint function. There are a huge range of techniques varying from very gentle to strong, selected for each individual’s needs and comfort. Your chiropractor may use his hands, an instrument or a special table.

What is the popping noise of the adjustment?

During certain types of Chiropractic adjustment there is sometimes a change of pressure within the joint space which may sometimes cause a bubble of gas to ‘pop’ – but this sound is not significant, and does not hurt. It’s exactly the same thing as when you “crack” your knuckles. The sound isn’t a guide to the quality or value of the adjustment.

What is joint tension?

Joint tension is a functional problem related to a joint and the structures associated with the joint such as the muscles, tendons and nerves. Dysfunction can present itself in various ways such as pain, inflammation and restricted movement of the joint. Often these types of dysfunction, will not appear on an x-ray. Chiropractors are trained to identify these through the use of their manual assessments.

What causes joint tension?

Joint tension is caused by some kind if stress affecting the joint. This stress can be physical, chemical or neural. Physical stresses can include slips and falls, accidents, repetitive motion, lifting awkwardly, poor posture and lack of fitness. Chemical stresses can include alcohol, drugs, pollution, poor diet and poor digestive and eliminative function. Examples of neural stresses include emotional stresses, such as grief, anger and fear; poor balance and coordination, too much or too little activity in various areas of the nervous system; too busy; pressure of work, finances and relationships.

What is the problem with having a joint that is stiff?

A joint that is not functioning properly is often associated with a local loss of motion, which may cause alterations in the movement of surrounding joints which by compensating can become damaged. The muscles that attach to the spine are often affected, nerves may be irritated or compromised and the disks and tissues around the spine can become inflamed and degenerated. The joints and muscles can provide feedback to the nervous system which can also affect your balance and posture, as well as other related systems.

Some of the indicators that suggest a joint is stiff include tenderness, soreness and stiffness, spasm, tightness or weakness, head pain, and reduced mobility. Pain may or may not be felt.

How do I know if I have joint tension?

The joint tension can sometimes cause mild aches and pains. These are often ignored until a more severe injury occurs. Like tooth decay, there is usually a gradual decline. A thorough chiropractic assessment can locate these areas of tension and discover their severity.

Could my problem clear up on its own?

People often feel minor aches and pains which appear to come and go. Similarly most people’s early experiences of severe pain can be a disabling few days, after which it appears to improve. The nervous and healing systems are amazing at compensating, adapting and correcting. However the modern lifestyle has a way of putting its toll on the body – poor diet, little exercise, high stress, poor posture, too many toxins, not enough or too much rest. When the pain gets bad enough you’ll want to see a chiropractic doctor. It all depends whether you practise the waiting for the-straw-that-breaks-your-back or the stitch-in-time philosophy.

Can I adjust myself?

Is there anything wrong with me ‘cracking my neck or back myself’? It is recommended that you do not adjust yourself. You cannot properly control an adjustment to yourself and your relief may only be temporary. It’s been shown that if a joint is cracked slowly it will stiffen up again quickly whereas the techniques used by chiropractors allow for longer relief. Chiropractors will also offer you guidance on preventing the tension building up.  If you feel you want to ‘crack’ your joints, it is because you need an adjustment. Consult your Chiropractor! Even your chiropractor goes to see his colleagues for help.

How long until I’ll feel better?

Everyone is unique and we can give you more idea once we have assessed your case. Some patients experience almost instant relief. Others discover it can take many weeks or months. Many factors can affect the healing process. How long have you had your problem? How bad is it? Are you keeping your appointments? Are you committed to getting better? Are you doing the exercises and lifestyle changes recommended by your chiropractor? Are you getting the proper rest, exercise and nutrition? How is your posture? How are your levels of stress? Do you smoke? Are you in otherwise good condition? Are there any old injuries or other health problems?

Within a short period of time most patients sense enough progress to fully complete their doctor’s recommendations.

How many adjustments will I need?

The number of adjustments varies with each patient and their individual health goals. Many patients sense progress within the first few weeks of treatment. At this stage treatments are usually twice weekly if you are in pain.

As you make progress the frequency of visits become less For most people the rehabilitation stage is weekly visits for 2-6 weeks, spreading to fortnightly and then monthly as your joints, muscles and nervous system start to stabilise. In chronic cases, complete healing can take months or even years. Spinal care can be like looking after your teeth. We teach you back exercises – analogous to brushing your teeth and recommend check-up visits usually once every 3-4 months. How long you choose to benefit from our care is always entirely up to you.

In summary, it is important to come in for your treatments on a regular basis. Most people will feel a lot more comfortable within 6-8 treatments, and often a lot less. Further treatments are usually required to help consolidate and maintain progress – initially this is again about 6-8 treatments on average, depending on the underlying problems. Your chiropractor will discuss with you your likely need for treatment depending on what they find.

How long will I need chiropractic care?

It’s up to you and depends on what your aims of care are. After patients get the relief they want, many choose to continue with some type of follow up care to prevent relapse and improve. These patients come to their appointments feeling well. Follow up visits are used to pick up problems at the early stage before they become serious and provide treatment and self-help exercises to solve problems.

As you continue to progress and learn to look after yourself better, the time between the follow up visits increases. Most people find their natural frequency of visits determined by their life stresses and how effective they are in keeping healthy. Usual frequency is 4 – 6 times per year, whereas some people need more regular visits (8-12 per year) and some people are fit enough to come in 2-3 times per year. Our job is to offer the very best care and your job is to decide how much of it you want.

Is chiropractic treatment preventative?

Clinical experience suggests that individuals with chronic conditions such as degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) or recurrent neck pain, back pain or headaches may experience less frequent and less severe symptoms when under regular chiropractic care. This also applies to individuals in highly stressful situations and those who experience repetitive physical and postural strain from their daily activities. Whether on-going chiropractic treatment can prevent back pain from occurring in the first place, or prevent a previous condition from re-occurring, requires further study.

Should I bring my family for chiropractic checks?

Yes, the strength of chiropractic is that it can help to prevent discomfort, pain and may even help reduce the physiological changes of stress that lead to health problems, by reducing the likelihood of stress hormone release and optimising the nervous system control of the body. Chiropractic is suitable for everyone. It is appropriate to visit a Chiropractor even if you have no pain, as restrictions in movement and alterations in nervous system function can often be detected before symptoms appear.

Will I ever be normal again?

Patient results vary. Many report tremendous improvements and are able to totally resume their previous levels of activity. People who have neglected themselves for too long or have delayed seeking care often see slower progress. After improvement, many patients discover that periodic chiropractic check-ups can help avoid a relapse.

Will I need an X-ray?

X-rays are only taken when clinically necessary. Chiropractors are fully qualified to take and read X-rays – though at Back-in-Action we have chosen not to have our own facilities but can refer you privately either for X-Rays or MRI scans or if you prefer to go through the NHS we suggest you consult your GP.

Should I get hold of my old X-Rays or other scans?

That would be very helpful. If you have had X-rays, or other scans, please ask for a copy from the radiology department who took them. They should be able to provide a computer disk of them, providing it wasn’t too long ago.

Who do chiropractors treat?

Chiropractic treatment is suitable for people of all ages, including babies, pregnant women and the elderly.

Can I get treatment on the NHS?

Some GP’s are able to purchase Chiropractic treatment for their patients on the NHS. You will need to speak to your GP about this. Many health companies will now pay for Chiropractic treatment.

What is the difference between Chiropractic and Osteopathy?

There are differences in technique and approach, as well as many similarities. The important factor is that the practitioner is well qualified. Both professions now have statutory regulation. Outlined below are some of the differences and similarities.

Chiropractors and osteopaths are trained in different establishments. Whilst a lot of the basic science is the same, the emphasis and interpretation is often different, resulting in different approaches and understanding of how to help improve an individual’s condition. Chiropractors focus mainly on the role of joints and nervous system. Many chiropractors will do some work on the muscles and give patient exercise to help with the muscles. If there is a lot of muscle tension a chiropractor may suggest that a visit to a massage therapist may be beneficial for a more intensive work through on the muscles.

Chiropractors adjust a specific joint in a specific direction, whereas traditional Osteopathic techniques move a number of joints together – i.e. can be less specific.

Osteopaths tend to treat a few times to ease the pain. Often problems such as back pain re-occur regularly. A chiropractor will ease the pain in a few treatments and investigate the underlying causes so that they can organise a plan of rehabilitation care to assist with  prevention and maintain benefits.

The traditional philosophy of chiropractic suggested that problems were caused by the joints and nerves whereas in the tradition of the original osteopathic philosophy considered that problems originated in the blood and vascular system.

Chiropractors are rigorously trained in the taking and reading of x-rays.

Chiropractors tend to use more specialised treatment tables and technology.

Chiropractors have a wide range of techniques from extremely gentle for delicate problems to stronger techniques when required.

Many chiropractors include other professionals in treatment programmes such as specialist dentists, podiatrists, massage therapists, counsellors and exercise physiologists to maximise the treatment benefits of your chiropractic treatment.

Osteopathic treatments usually take longer and often include more work on releasing tight muscles. Chiropractic treatments are quicker, emphasising the joints and nerves, and some muscle work though they tend to emphasise self-help exercises or recommend referral form more chronic muscle imbalances.

Chiropractors have to learn cranial techniques post-graduate whereas it seems it is more likely to be included in under-graduate Osteopathy courses.

The way you spell it? Sometimes there may not be much difference between a Chiropractor and an Osteopath, depending on the techniques, attitude and philosophy of the practitioner. Both Chiropractors and Osteopaths help with similar conditions by treating the joints muscles, ligaments and nerves to improve the structure and function of the body.

Chiropractic though smaller than Osteopathy in the UK is generally bigger internationally.

From the Preston Chiropractor Team
Getting You Back in Action & Enjoying Your Life Again
Serving the people of Preston and surrounding areas including Southport and Lytham St Annes