The chiropractic discipline today is one of the largest primary-contact health care professions in Canada with over 5,000 practicing chiropractors. Approximately four and a half million Canadians use the services of a chiropractor each year.
The vast majority of patients who seek chiropractic care do so for complaints of the musculoskeletal system, most often for conditions affecting the spine.
Chiropractic is a regulated health profession recognized by statute in all Canadian provinces and American states. The benefits of chiropractic care are well recognized by other health practitioners. In a 1995 survey, 44 per cent of Ontario and Alberta physicians indicated that they refer patients for chiropractic treatment.
Chiropractic manipulation is a drug-free, non-invasive manual procedure which utilizes the highly-refined skills developed during four intensive years of chiropractic education. Chiropractors assess disorders related to the spine, nervous system, and joints of the extremities and provide diagnosis, treatment and prevention of those disorders.
The primary goal of chiropractic manipulation, also referred to as adjustment, is to treat areas of decreased movement in the joints of the spine which can create a reaction in surrounding tissues (ligaments, muscles and nerves) resulting in pain, dysfunction and muscular spasm. Chiropractors are also trained to prescribe therapeutic exercise and other non-invasive therapies including dietary counseling.
Manipulation is a highly controlled procedure which rarely causes discomfort. The chiropractor adapts the procedure to meet the specific needs of each patient. Patients often note positive changes in their symptoms immediately following treatment.
Scientific study of spinal manipulation has clearly demonstrated that chiropractic treatment improves function and is effective for common conditions such as headache, neck, and low back pain. Between 86 and 96 per cent of all visits to chiropractors are for these or similar conditions.
In many cases, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care may be the primary method of treatment. Where other medical conditions exist, chiropractic care may compliment or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects of discomfort associated with the condition.
Chiropractic care may also be palliative, providing symptomatic relief to patients with chronic conditions. By treating the musculoskeletal elements such as disorders, chiropractic treatment improves the general well-being of the patient. In this regard, Canada’s chiropractors frequently provide complementary as one element of a patients overall treatment program.