Chiropractors (practitioners of chiropractic) use their hands to treat disorders of the bones, muscles and joints. Treatments that involve use of the hands in this way are called “manual therapies”.
Chiropractors use a range of techniques, with an emphasis on manipulation of the spine. They may also offer advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle, and rehabilitation programmes that involve exercises to do in your own time. Some chiropractors may also offer other treatments, such as acupuncture.
During your first appointment with a chiropractor, he or she will ask about your medical history, diet and lifestyle. Your first appointment will last between 30 minutes and one hour. Your chiropractor will need to ask a number of questions to get a whole picture of your current health and circumstances. He or she will also examine you.
Your chiropractor may request that you have an X-ray or a MRI or CT scan to help make a diagnosis.
Once you have agreed on a course of treatment with your chiropractor, each session will last around 20 minutes. The number of sessions you will need and how often you have them will depend on your particular condition.
Your chiropractor will usually treat you while you lie down in various positions. Chiropractors often use a manipulative technique on your spinal column or joints, consisting of short, rapid forceful movements or ‘thrusts’. These are designed to ‘realign’ your spine and correct any problems in your spine that may be related to your condition. This technique may result in a sound you can hear – a click or pop similar to when you stretch your knuckles.
Your chiropractor may carry out treatments using ice, heat, ultrasound and acupuncture. Some chiropractors offer active rehabilitation exercise programmes that focus on improving your fitness and endurance aimed at improving your symptoms.
Your chiropractor may suggest having regular maintenance therapy after your initial problem has got better. Chiropractors claim this reduces the chances of falling ill again. However, there is little good evidence for the effectiveness of this type of treatment.
Your chiropractor will discuss carrying out further investigations or may refer you to your GP if your condition doesn’t improve. Chiropractors don’t prescribe medicines or carry out any surgery.