What is a Chiropractor?
Back pain is a condition that most people suffer from at some point in their lives, and in many cases it can be severe. While some medical conditions can be responsible for this symptom—including inflammatory arthritis, infection or cancer—the most common causes of back pain are mechanical in nature, to do with misalignment’s in the spine and problems in the way it supports and facilitates movements in the body. To have these conditions treated, many people choose to see a chiropractor.
A chiropractor is a medical professional who has undergone extensive training over several years in the diagnosis and treatment of mechanical problems of the spine. They use hands-on spinal manipulation, among other nonsurgical treatments, to move the various parts of the spine into their correct and optimal positions, clearing the path for the body to complete its own healing process naturally.
Why does the spine need manual adjustment in the first place?
There are a number of things that can go wrong. The spine’s structural elements (muscles, joints, bones, and connective tissue) can be injured by a traumatic event—such as a road accident—in a way that brings about a painful restriction in movement. It can also develop distortions as the result of repetitive stress injury, as happens when people work every day in a seated position without proper back support. Poor posture, obesity, and psychological stress can exacerbate these issues.
In these situations, chiropractic spinal manipulation can correct the problem non-invasively and without medication. A chiropractic doctor will generally assess a patient’s condition with reference to their medical history, perform a physical examination, and confirm whether or not a certain treatment is appropriate in their case via lab tests or diagnostic imaging. The treatment itself is likely to involve several manual adjustments made by the doctor with a sudden controlled force in the interests of improving range and quality of motion. This may be followed up with nutritional counseling and a recommended program of rehabilitative exercises.
How are chiropractors educated?
Learning the skills of a chiropractor is something that takes a considerable amount of time and a concentrated training regimen. While some practitioners are eager to label themselves as chiropractors after having only undertaken brief courses on related topics, the fact is that a genuine chiropractor will have completed around eight years of higher education to earn their licence to practice, including a four-year undergraduate degree (generally in sciences), and a four-year chiropractic graduate program, with up to 5000 instructional class hours.
Chiropractic graduate programmes involve intensely focused training in general anatomy, chiropractic principles, biochemistry and spinal anatomy before moving on to courses in chiropractic procedures, pathology, clinical orthopedics, imaging interpretation, and methods of research. Towards the end of their courses, chiropractors undertake clinical internships and study integrated chiropractics, as well as learn pediatrics, dermatology, practice management—and importantly, ethics and jurisprudence. A chiropractor will graduate after completing a full clinical internship under a practicing chiropractor and completing rotations in a hospital or veterans’ clinic.
In countries with strong chiropractic institutions such as the US and in Europe, a chiropractor will only obtain an official license to practice after completing the entire course of studies and sitting for the licensing board in their administrative area.
Is it safe to visit a chiropractor?
It’s only safe to visit a chiropractor if the practitioner is a real chiropractor! One of the pitfalls of the industry is that—especially in countries such as Vietnam—there is a proliferation of non-professional practitioners who use the term “chiropractor” as a marketing tool. A real chiropractor will have a substantial educational background, a license to practice, and will use legitimate chiropractic equipment. Massage therapists and other non-professionals who attempt chiropractic techniques can actually cause a lot of damage to a patient and can worsen existing medical conditions. There is a significant danger, in fact, of undertaking chiropractic treatment from an amateur practitioner, especially in cases of herniated discs—which is not a condition indicated for chiropractics.
Maple Healthcare director Dr. Paul D’Alfonso said, “Having people adjust your spine like a chiropractor when they’re not actually a chiropractor can be a very dangerous proposition. There are a lot of injuries that can come from adjusting someone and not knowing what you’re doing. It took me many, many years of practice to actually learn how to adjust the spine in the right way without hurting people, and making sure that people got better. Chiropractics is very special, it’s not just a medical profession, it’s an art. It’s a philosophy and it’s a medical profession. So it takes a very, very well-rounded person in the field of chiropractics to be good at it, and it takes a long time to get good at it too.”
Professional chiropractors practice the methods and techniques of the discipline in a safe and effective manner. During a typical adjustment, the chiropractor will place the patient in specific positions known for their suitability in treating affected areas. The classic chiropractic patient position is lying face down on a padded table of a very specific design (and not a regular table or bed). The doctor will use his or her hands or a specialized instrument to exert an abrupt but controlled force to a particular joint, shifting it beyond its usual range of motion. This can result in an audible cracking noise. In some patients, this can cause mild pain or discomfort, and give rise to headaches or fatigue that usually subside within a day or two of rest. Generally, chiropractors expect that after a series of five to ten treatments, the treatment will result in significant improvement in the condition, relieving the patient of chronic back pain.
Why visit a chiropractor?
In the modern world with all our advances in medical practices and technologies, we have come to expect a high standard of medical care with strong clinical outcomes at manageable levels of cost. The chiropractic profession has received increased attention in this environment, particularly considering the harm done worldwide by over-prescription of medical drugs for pain such as opioids. Alternatives to medications for pain treatment are therefore becoming far more widely acknowledged than they were previously.
Spinal manipulation is a safe and effective treatment for pain in the spine that does not rely on drugs. It is known to lower or eradicate pain levels and diminish a patient’s reliance on pain medications, and it can also help to advance physical therapy.
Scientific studies have shown that patients suffering from pain in the lower back are best off seeking the most conservative treatments before considering medical options. Spinal manipulation is currently the only known drugless form of first-stage professional treatment for severe low back issues among adults that is both safe and effective.
There is clear evidence to suggest that spinal manipulation is just as effective a treatment for back pain as combined medical care and exercise. Surgery is usually a last resort for spinal problems and is generally not needed to resolve issues of straightforward mechanical pain.
If you’re suffering from significant back pain and are seeking treatment, visit a licensed and authentic chiropractor at Maple Healthcare in Ho Chi Minh City, a safe and positive step towards recovery and fully-restored health.