Doctors of chiropractic diagnose, treat and help prevent conditions and disorders related to the back, neck, pelvis, extremity joints and the effect they have on the nervous system.
The main form of treatment chiropractors deliver is called an adjustment – a non-invasive procedure consisting of a precise directed movement to help relieve pain and discomfort, and restore range of motion. Sometimes chiropractors will also use other therapies like massage, heat, laser and ultrasound.
A chiropractor does not prescribe drugs or perform surgery, but may make a referral to medical specialists for such treatment when appropriate.
In addition to adjustments, chiropractors also counsel patients regarding nutrition, lifestyle and exercise.
Training and Education
In Canada, doctors of chiropractic must complete a minimum of seven years of post-secondary education, which includes a four-year academic program at an accredited chiropractic college. In addition to classroom hours, students treat patients in a supervised clinic setting during their final two years of education.
To be a chiropractor in Alberta, doctors must successfully pass national board exams and maintain professional competency through approved seminars and courses.
Did you know?
Only health care providers who are regulated under Alberta's Health Professions Act – such as chiropractors – are legally permitted to call themselves doctors.
Why would you see a chiropractor?
People see a chiropractor for:
- Back and neck pain
- Headaches, including migraines
- Whiplash and car accident injuries
- Strains and sprains from day-to-day tasks to sports injuries
- Workplace injuries (see our WCB information)
- General health and well-being
People who also suffer work, auto or sports injuries often seek pain relief and healing from a chiropractor.
Most satisfying treatment for back pain
In the Consumer Reports 2009 Survey: Chiropractic received top marks as the most satisfying treatment for back pain.
What to Expect
All chiropractic patients will experience an initial assessment before treatment. You will be asked to share information about your health, such as any injury or surgery, medications you are taking and family health history.
The first visit will take longer than following visits, because your chiropractor will conduct a physical assessment based on the reason for your visit. The assessment might include posture, range of motion, reflexes, and other orthopaedic and neurologic tests. Your chiropractor may also order x-rays.
Your chiropractor will talk with you about your diagnosis and treatment plan before you receive treatment/adjustment. This might happen on the first visit, but most likely you will be asked to make a second appointment so that your chiropractor can fully consider your needs and develop your treatment plan.
If you have any questions about anything during your treatment, always ask. Not all chiropractors use the same methods. If you don't feel that a particular chiropractor's method is helping you, you may need to see a chiropractor who offers a different type of treatment. A lot of patients also see more than one chiropractor for different things.
Safety and Research
Because chiropractic is non-invasive, the risk of a serious side effect is extremely low. While most people feel a sense of relief, it is possible that following a chiropractic treatment you may experience mild soreness that should go away quickly. Before you have a chiropractic treatment, ask to discuss any concerns you have with your chiropractor. If have any severe or lasting effects or concerns, talk to your chiropractor.
Chiropractic is a health discipline firmly grounded in science and endorsed by research. National and international researchers, both within and outside the chiropractic profession, are actively involved in studying the safety and effectiveness of chiropractic for patient care.
This growing body of evidence continues to prove the value of chiropractic care with consistently high marks for clinical effectiveness, cost efficiency and patient satisfaction.
From Alberta Chiropractic Association