What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a form of health care that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuro-musculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.
Doctors of Chiropractic (Chiropractors) practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes a structural and functional examination of your spine or part of the body that is causing you concern, providing a diagnosis and recommending of a plan of treatment.
The chiropractic spinal structural and functional examination is what makes chiropractic different from other health care procedures.
Your spine is made up of a series of movable bones which begin at the base of your skull and end in the centre of your hips. The spine has 24 individual bones known as vertebrae, however it functions as one dynamic structure. The vertebrae are stacked on top of each other like building bricks. In between the individual vertebrae are discs or fibro-cartilage, which help to cushion shock, reduce friction and allow movement to occur.
Your body also has 31 pairs of nerves that extend down the spine from the brain, and exit from between the vertebrae. The nerves leave the spine via structures between vertebrae, and go into the various parts of your body like arms, legs and internal organs. Essentially, the nerves form a very complicated network which ultimately influences every living tissue in your body.
Accidents, falls, stress/tension, over-exertion, degeneration and any other factor that may cause an inability of the spine to move as a dynamic organ, can result in minor restrictions in one or more of the vertebrae, causing irritation to spinal nerve roots either directly through increased pressure, or indirectly through reflexes. These restrictions may interfere with your spine’s normal mobility and result in pain, discomfort and in some cases dysfunction.
Chiropractors aim to remove joint restrictions so as to let your body operate more efficiently and comfortably. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle advice.
Whilst Chiropractic Manipulative Therapy (CMT) is often the cornerstone of our treatment, it is not for everyone. We assess your suitability for CMT at our initial assessment. Other physical therapies are offered where they are more suitable to a patient’s individual circumstances.
CMT is delivered manually, with a hand-held activator device or on a drop-piece table. For those patients who prefer low-force techniques, we offer sacro-occipital technique (SOT), pelvic blocking and gentle mobilisation.
Since all bones are connected to muscles, any “bone problem” like a restricted joint will always impact muscles and vice versa. It doesn’t make sense to ignore this interaction. Traditionally chiropractors have concentrated on joint adjustments and physiotherapists focused more on muscle function.
Our clinicians have been trained in physical therapies as well as rehabilitation to bridge this gap and get the best of both worlds. We firmly believe that sustainable improvements need to address the joint restriction and associated muscle spasms, trigger points, muscle imbalances and shortening as well as core muscle strength especially in the lower back and neck.
Consequently, we offer a variety of soft tissue therapies including an instrument assisted soft tissue release called FISH, trigger point release, flexion-distraction, traction, massage and muscle stretching. Furthermore heat/cold therapy is sometimes applied as well as various rehabilitation programs with office and home-based exercises. Postural and nutritional advice is given where indicated. Kinesiotaping and rigid taping may be performed especially to improve posture or increase stability.
We do not only treat spinal conditions including headaches, but we also work on extremities after injury or as preventative care, e.g. in falls prevention through enhanced balance. Last, but not least we can help athletes in any sport to perform at their peak.
How do we measure progress?
We measure the patient’s range of motion of the affected joints at regular intervals. Neurological examination can demonstrate the patient’s increased/decreased ability to feel pain, touch or temperature in certain areas of his body. Deep tendon reflexes, muscle strength and mass can be assessed. The patient may be tested against a set of certain functions e.g. can he/she reach or work overhead? Pain levels, medication levels, perceived activity and capability measures as well as emotional state are also regularly assessed using standardized questionnaires. All this gives the chiropractor and the patient a good idea of where the treatment is heading.
Our approach at Peak Performance Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Clinic is determined by satisfactory answers to two questions:
- Is this a chiropractic case?
- Does chiropractic treatment delay other more suitable therapies for this patient?
After thorough history taking, physical exam and possibly diagnostic imaging, a diagnosis is determined and the appropriate care is administered. The majority of neuro-musculo-skeletal problems respond very well and very quickly to chiropractic treatment. If, however, no change or deterioration in the patient’s presentation is found, the patient’s condition is re-assessed, treatment may possibly be changed and/or a referral may be indicated.