Ever wondered exactly what a chiropractor does? There’s many different approaches to medicine, and so often it’s up to the patient to research just what is right for them. Mel Kheradi from Neurohealth Chiropractic Centre in Lane Cove explains what a chiropractor’s role is in health.
You often hear of friends and family who have visited the chiropractor describe the experience as “having their backs cracked”. But the job of a chiropractor is far more than just back cracking.
What does a chiropractor do?
Chiropractic is the art of assessing, diagnosing, monitoring and the treating of ailments of the musculoskeletal system and the sensory motor system. So the next time either you or someone you know goes to the chiropractor and gets their back cracked, what your chiropractor is actually doing is:
- Identifying the source of dysfunction
- Determining which treatment is most suitable for that particular issue on that particular person on that particular day
- Treating the cause of the problem
- Giving you further therapeutic advice that may be helpful
Whether you have had an injury or have poor posture, or you have a child who has limitations in their sensory motor system, chiropractic can be a natural and holistic approach to improving body and health.
How do you become a chiropractor?
For chiropractors who complete studies in Sydney, they must attend university for 5 years and study both a Bachelor and Masters degree in Chiropractic science. The undergraduate program is the equivalent of a medical science degree, with a few extra chiropractic specific subjects. The Masters degree includes two years of clinic internship which hone in on diagnostic skills, anatomy and physiology skills, pathology and neurology skills as well as radiology. These student have a 40 hour contact week at university and at some stages along their studies have up to 20 exams in one exam period. After university, a chiropractic professional moves into the examiners role. Chiropractors examine their patients to work out where the source of the pain and dysfunction in their spine is and how it is impacting other joints, muscles and function. It is a big-picture approach and may require further evaluation that might include an X-ray or a referral to another health professional. An orthopaedic and neurological exam will be conducted to work out what is going on and to construct and treatment plan. Some patients benefit from manual therapy, others benefit from low-force techniques.
Your body and chiropractic health
Many movements are hardwired into the nervous system. For example we breathe somewhere in the vicinity of 20000 times per day. This means that the diaphragm and all the other associated breathing muscles contract 20000 times per day, without you thinking about it.When you walk, there is a rhythmic system of muscles turning on and off in an accurate sequence to pick up our legs and result in our gait. These are referred to as automated movement patterns.
When we move in these patterns, muscles give feedback to the brain about where your body is positioned and how well the required movement (e.g swinging a tennis racquet) was performed. Your brain then decides whether you need to make adjustments to fine-tune the movement. This feedback system is more properly termed the sensory motor system.
The fine-tuning necessary for the spinal muscles to operate efficiently is nothing short of elaborate. The spine is involved in your every movement and posture, whether you are a baby learning to walk or a professional tennis player. A chiropractor needs to assess and decipher this elaborate system to determine the source of any disruption and how the disruption is impacting other joints, muscles and function. Once you have undergone a thorough initial exam and possibly been referred for X- rays, should further evaluation be warranted, the next step is to design a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs, because the same ailment may have a different cause in different people. Once they have worked out what has gone wrong and how they can fix it, your chiropractor will usually reassess and monitor your progress.