Chiropractors in Australia are a nationally registered and a regulated health care profession. Chiropractic is a drug and surgery free modality of treatment concerned with the diagnosis, management and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system; this includes the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health. It is based on the teachings of Galen and Hippocrates and the premise that the body can respond appropriately to its environment provided that the nervous system is free of interference. This was further developed by Palmer which led to a focus on the spinal column and its functioning. In summary, chiropractors focus on the detection and correction of aberrant spinal function and its subsequent effect on how the nervous system controls and coordinates the body in response to its environment. If the spine is allowed to function well, this can help the body to reach optimal health and express its full potential.
In Australia, chiropractors are educated in the University sector at an under-graduate and post-graduate level and there is a growing research and evidence base not only in Australia but through international federations. As with other healthcare professions, there are internationally and nationally recognised standards of qualification to enable practice in Australia and this is part of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.
A Chiropractic Adjustment is used to improve the movement and function of subluxated vertebrae and thus improve the ability of the Nervous System to function unimpeded. This may improve the state of many conditions including, but not limited to:
Pain of any kind, including back pain, is a sign that something’s wrong. It’s the way the body lets us know a limit has been reached and a problem has developed. However, as we can adapt, minor aches and pains are often shrugged off. While they may go away, if the underlying problem goes unattended, the problem can slowly worsen until it becomes far more difficult and expensive to resolve. Chiropractic works because you are a self-healing, self-regulating organism controlled by your nervous system. Millions of instructions flow from your brain, down the spinal cord, and out to every organ and tissue. Signals sent back to the brain confirm if the body is working correctly. Improper motion or position of the spinal bones can interfere with this vital exchange by irritating nerves and compromising the function of affected tissues. Specific spinal adjustments to improve mind-body communications can help restore health and function.
Some people silence the pain with drugs, but this is like removing the battery of a smoke detector to quiet it!
Headaches are common, but they’re not normal. There are three main causes: physical trauma, emotional stress or chemical toxins. Sometimes there may be a combination of factors. Chiropractic examination will assess for vertebral subluxation complexes that could be causing your headaches. A common cause of headaches is from spinal bones in the neck that aren’t supporting the head properly. Spinal misalignment, and improper movement of the cervical joints puts pressure on the nerves that exit from within these joints and affects the muscles, tissues and even blood supply to the head, and can result in headaches. Chiropractors will assess the function of the spine, and reduce any subluxations to allow the nervous system to function to its best potential, thus improving the communication between the brain and tissues supplied by these nerves. This will often result in a decrease in pain and reduction in muscle tension.
Chiropractic care during pregnancy may be needed because of the many physical and chemical changes the body goes through. Not only does the centre of gravity change due to the added physical weight being carried, but the spine and pelvis become more flexible due to hormonal changes. These hormones relax the ligaments in the pelvis, preparing them for stretching during childbirth, which can, in an already unstable spine, aggravate spinal problems. Chiropractors will assess the spine for any subluxations which may be causing nerve stress, and adjust them to reduce any tension. Whilst it’s always good to have an optimally functioning spine and Nervous System, it’s especially helpful during pregnancy. Chiropractic care helps maintain uterine ligament flexibility and balance, which may assist the growing foetus to comfortably assume the optimal birthing position. Chiropractic Care whilst pregnant will not harm the baby, and adjusting techniques are adapted to a mother’s size, weight and condition.
Sciatica is a pain that typically begins in the lower back and extends down one or both legs along the length of the sciatic nerve. It typically worsens with extended periods of sitting or standing, and there are a multitude of factors that can cause it. Years of poor posture, poor muscle tone, excess weight, physical trauma injuring an intervertebral disc or arthritic spurs which both put direct pressure on the nerve, are just a few. Often, something simple like bending to put on a sock can trigger an episode. This is because our bodies are able to compensate and adapt to a variety of stressors, and then like “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, our spine succumbs to the accumulation of stress. Chiropractic may work in this situation by restoring spinal function and improving muscle tone to help alleviate pressure to the sciatic nerve.
The average spine is not perfectly straight, almost everyone’s curves slightly to the left or right, and sometimes there is twisting of the vertebrae involved. When there is excessive sideways curvature of the spine this is called scoliosis (from the Greek word for “crooked”). In 85-90% of cases the cause is unknown, but it may also be from a disease or illness causing deformity to the vertebra, or functional due to behavioural routines. Whatever the cause, early detection is essential as in cases that progress to a severe scoliosis, sufferers can have impaired function of the lungs, heart and many other vital organs. “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree”. Chiropractors do not treat disease, scoliosis included, but they do correct spinal nerve stress – a condition that interferes with the proper functioning of the nervous system and the body as a whole. A series of Chiropractic adjustments may improve the structure and function of the spine, and help retrain and strengthen muscles to improve posture.
The intervertebral disc is a specialized cartilage between the bones of your spinal column, attached to the bone above and below it. This creates the distance between the spinal bones so pairs of nerves can exit the spine. Each disc has a jelly-like “ball bearing”core that is contained by bands of fibrous tissue. Healthy discs give you flexibility for normal bending and turning. Physical trauma, such as poor lifting, car accidents or falls can cause this core to shift, resulting in what is commonly known as a “slipped disc”. Physically a disc can’t slip, but there are three severities of this disc disease:
– Herniation: the disc wedges and bulges out into the nerve canals, and may or may not put direct pressure on the nerves. Symptoms may or may not be present.
– Protrusion: like a blister, the disc bulges and the core pushes toward the outer part of the disc where it is the weakest, causing symptoms of nerve pressure.
– Prolapse: part of the disc dessicates (splits off) and moves into the spinal canal. This causes the most severe pain and symptoms.
The purpose of Chiropractic is to locate and correct areas of the spine interfering with the proper Nervous System control of the body. As the Intervertebral Discs are so close to the spinal cord and nerve roots, disc involvement is quite common in Chiropractic cases. Adjustments will help to restore proper motion to the spine, reducing pressure on the nervous system which could assist the body to heal the damaged disc.