Chiropractic? There is a lot of Variety.
Asking the questions “What is chiropractic?” and, “What does a chiropractor do? is like asking, “What is medicine?” or, “What does a medical doctor do?” These questions are tough to answer because there are so many areas of medicine. Variations exist even among the specialty of family physicians who then also have different sub-specialties. A surgeon could be a specialist in plastic surgery who only does hand and finger surgery or a thoracic surgeon who specializes in tumor removal.
Chiropractic and chiropractors don’t have as many organized and regulated specialties as medicine, but there is a lot of variation in the profession. People are often looking for the best chiropractor in Edmonton or whatever their city is. The best chiropractor for them is likely not the best chiropractor for everyone. They may not even be the best chiropractor for them at all times. I have many patients who see different chiropractors for different things and have a few different physical therapists and massage therapists that they work with as well.
What am I looking for in a Chiropractor?
Building a bit on our article on Choosing a Chiropractor, I will break down some basic differences and options. Regardless of practice style or philosophy, the vast majority of chiropractors will be doing some form of hands on or instrument assisted treatment aimed at restoring proper neuromusculoskeletal function. Basically, taking a joint and muscle complex (which is controlled by your nervous system) that is not working right and helping it to work better.
Types of Chiropractic Adjusting
Most chiropractors will use adjustments to help to restore this function. This may be a hands on adjustment that may make the popping noise that people often associate with chiropractic adjustments. It is also very common for chiropractors to use gentle hands on or instrument assisted adjusting that never makes a popping noise. Some patients prefer and respond better to one type, and some to other types. I personally use both a more standard hands-on technique and a low force technique with no popping. I think having both options is beneficial for patient and doctor choice.
Other Treatment Options
It is also common for chiropractors to use soft tissue therapies such as Active Release Technique (A.R.T.) or other forms of hands on muscle therapy, as well as instrument assisted soft tissue techniques (IASTM) like Graston technique. These are aimed at the muscle and soft tissues around joints and are particularly useful in chronic conditions where the muscles and soft tissues have been contracted for a long period of time. Although the side effects of these treatments are typically just short term discomfort, I find that these therapies will almost always be the ones to produce these side effects in patients when compared to appropriately selected and performed adjustments.
Chiropractic is focused on restoring proper body function by restoring function and movement to joints (and muscles) in your body, often with a focus on the spine. Properly moving and functioning joints and muscles are essential for proper nervous system function. Chiropractors as a group are diverse and finding the best fit for you is important.