FAQ About Patient Care

What is chiropractic?

Chiropractic is one of the largest primary contact health care professions in Canada, with over 7,000 practicing chiropractors treating approximately four and a half million Canadians annually with drug free, non-invasive, hands-on care. Chiropractors assess disorders related to the spine, nervous system, and joints of the extremities and provide a diagnosis and treatment of these disorders. The primary goal of chiropractic manipulation, also referred to as adjustment, is to treat areas of decreased movements in the joints which can create a response in surrounding tissues (ligaments, muscles and nerves) in order to provide relief of pain and improvement in function.

Manipulation or adjustment is a highly controlled procedure, which rarely causes discomfort. A chiropractor adapts the procedure to meet the specific needs of each patient. Many people will notice an improvement in their symptoms immediately after a treatment. To help patients achieve improved health, the chiropractor can also design a program that includes exercise and nutritional counselling.

What conditions can chiropractors treat?

Chiropractors treat a wide variety of conditions affecting the muscles and joints in the body. Chiropractic is an effective and safe form of treatment for back, neck, joint pain, headaches and decreased range of motion. Many of these conditions, commonly treated with pain medications, can also be treated effectively with chiropractic therapy and exercise.

People of all ages and from all walks of life can benefit from chiropractic treatment. Chiropractors also provide valuable information about maintaining optimum muskuloskeletal health and provide tips to help people reduce the risk of work and sport related injuries. No referral is required from a medical doctor, as chiropractors are primary contact health care practitioners.

Chiropractic education, regulations and the internship program

Chiropractors are primary contact health care professionals who are recognised by statute in all Canadian provinces and American states. The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) is a world leader in chiropractic education and research.

The Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) program has an intensive four year curriculum of academic and clinical education. The minimum requirement for admission to the program is three years of undergraduate study at a recognised university. The vast majority of those accepted in recent years, however, have achieved an undergraduate degree and some have achieved a graduate degree. During the fourth year of the program, students obtain their clinical experience as interns at one of CMCC’s several teaching clinics, which are located throughout the greater Toronto area.

When you attend our clinic, you will be assessed by one of CMCC’s clinical faculty and a chiropractic intern. Your intern will conduct a comprehensive health history and detailed examination, provide a diagnosis and recommend a plan of care.

What to expect on your first visit?

Your chiropractor may be treating your back, muscle or joint pain, but he or she needs to understand how your body functions as a whole. In particular he or she will focus on your spine, joints, muscles, and nervous system. Your chiropractor needs a complete picture of your health history and overall current health in order to provide the best possible treatment for you.

Set aside at least 60 minutes for your first visit to the chiropractor. Future visits typically last 30 minutes or less, and this may vary from chiropractor to chiropractor, and is affected by the type of treatment you require. Here’s what you might expect.

Your chiropractor may ask about the following:

  • personal and family medical history
  • major illnesses
  • surgeries
  • prescription or over the counter medications
  • a description of your present condition
  • steps you have taken to manage your condition
  • diet and exercise routine, your sleeping habits, daily activities, work routine, stress level, and home life
  • herbal remedies and other supplements
  • TIP: Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for your visit to the chiropractor!

Your chiropractor may ask you to change into a gown to:

  • check your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing
  • test your reflexes, strength, and sensations
  • assess your posture
  • x-ray your spine
  • analyze your movement - he/she will observe how you walk, turn, bend or lift things, as well as how your body moves in the affected area
  • evaluation of how well your spine moves, identifying restrictions and areas of improper motion

TIP: Bring a copy of any X-rays or radiology reports or other imaging.

These assessments give your chiropractor a better picture of your complete health. He or she will make a diagnosis, prescribe a course of treatment, and once the matter of informed consent has been discussed, treatment may begin. If your chiropractor diagnoses a condition more appropriately treated by another health care professional, he or she will make a referral. Your treatment from the chiropractor, regardless of the stage of care, will often include exercise, diet, and other healthy living suggestions.
Take the time to discuss with your chiropractor the treatment plan that’s best for you.

Why should I see a chiropractor?

Many people see a chiropractor for back, neck and joint pain, while others seek relief from the discomfort caused by headaches.

Does chiropractic treatment require referral from an MD?
No. A patient does not have to be referred. Chiropractors are legislated as primary contact health care professionals in every province in Canada. This means that patients can consult them directly. Similarly, chiropractors frequently refer to medical doctors when necessary.

How is chiropractic adjustment performed?
Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is a manual procedure that utilizes the highly refined skills developed during four intensive years of chiropractic education. The chiropractor typically uses his/her hands to manipulate the joints of the body, particularly the spine, in order to reduce pain, and restore or enhance joint function. Chiropractic manipulation is a highly controlled procedure that 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.

Is chiropractic adjustment a safe procedure?
Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is a drug-free, non-invasive approach to common musculoskeletal conditions such as headache, and neck and back pain. As such, it is a low risk therapy. Complications arising from adjustment are rare..

Why is there a popping sound when a joint is adjusted?
Adjustment of a joint may result in release of a gas bubble between the joints that makes a popping sound – it’s exactly the same as when you "crack" your knuckles. It is not painful. It is caused by the change of pressure within the joint resulting in gas bubbles being released.