Frequently Asked Questions

Chiropractic FAQs

When should I see a chiropractor?

Chiropractors are highly educated and trained to manage and prevent conditions of the neuromuscular system (spine, joints, muscle and nervous system). There are many reasons Canadians seek chiropractic care.

Eight out of ten Canadians will experience back pain at some point in their life. Furthermore, at least one third of people in Ontario will be experiencing back pain at any given time. If back pain is impacting your ability to enjoy a normal life then you should consult a chiropractor or other health care provider

A growing portion of the population is discovering that regular chiropractic care promotes mobility, body balance and improved wellness. Therefore many patients seek chiropractic treatment for wellness care, as a positive proactive lifestyle choice in order to maintain their good health.

What conditions do chiropractors see in practice?

Chiropractors are trained to care for patients of all ages, with a variety of health conditions. We are best known for treating patients with back pain, neck pain, migraines and headaches. In addition chiropractors can care for patients with a range of injuries and disorders of the muscles, ligaments and joints.
The benefits of chiropractic care extend to general health issues, since our body structure affects our overall function. Chiropractic care cannot “cure” every ailment, but there is some evidence to indicate that adjustments may have a beneficial effect on a variety of conditions.

Do I need a referral from a MD to see a chiropractor?

In Canada, chiropractors are legislated as primary health professionals. This means that patients can consult them directly without the need of a referral.

Is chiropractic care safe?

Chiropractic is one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromuscularskeletal complaints. Although chiropractic possesses an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free of possible side effects. This being said, the risks associated with chiropractic care are very small, especially when compared to the risks of other treatments such as over the counter pain medication.

Many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic treatment, but some may experience mild soreness, stiffness or aching, just as you would after exercising. Current literature shows that this minor discomfort or soreness following a chiropractic adjustment typically fades within 24 hours.

Neck adjustments

Neck adjustments, particularly of the top two vertebrae of the spine, has on rare occasions been associated with stroke and stroke-like symptoms. This risk is considerably lower than those serious adverse events associated with many common health treatments such as long-term use of non-prescription pain relievers or birth control pills. While estimates vary, a range of one to two events per million neck adjustments is the ratio generally accepted by the research community.

An extensive commentary on chiropractic care, published in the February 2002 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, which is the journal of the American College of Physicians, reviewed more than 160 reports and studies on chiropractic. It states the following with regard to the safety of neck adjustment: “The apparent rarity of these accidental events has made it difficult to assess the magnitude of the complication risk. No serious complication has been noted in more than 73 controlled clinical trials or in any prospectively evaluated case series to date.”

A Canadian study, published in 2001 in the medical journal Stroke, also concluded that stroke associated with neck adjustment is so rare that it is difficult to calculate an accurate risk ratio. The study was conducted by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and the authors have stated: “The evidence to date indicates that the risk associated with chiropractic manipulation of the neck is both small and inaccurately estimated. The estimated level of risk is smaller than that associated with many commonly used diagnostic tests or prescription drugs.”

The most recent research into the association between neck adjustment and stroke is biomechanical studies to assess what strain, if any, neck adjustment may place on the vertebral arteries. The preliminary findings of this ongoing work indicate that neck adjustment is done well within the normal range of motion and that neck adjustment is “very unlikely to mechanically disrupt the VA [vertebral artery].”

There are many risk factors for stroke including blood clotting problems, hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol, birth control pills, heart problems and trauma such as blows to the head from car accidents, sports injuries or falls. Some strokes happen spontaneously with no obvious cause during activities of daily living such as backing up a car. A patient’s health history and activities have to be examined very carefully in order to determine the most probable cause of a stroke.

-Taken directly from the Ontario Chiropractic Association Website, accessed 14/08/2013

Is Chiropractic appropriate for children?

Yes, chiropractic care is always adapted to an individual’s needs regardless of age. Adjustments for Children differ significantly to those for adults and typically require no more pressure then you can apply comfortably on your eyeball.

Children are very physically active and experience countless bumps and bruises from their activities of daily living, any sports they participate in, and in the case of infants, from the birthing process. These stresses on a child’s body can cause symptoms such as back pain, neck pain and stiffness, although they can go undetected or be asymptomatic for years.

Many parents are choosing chiropractic as a proactive, natural lifestyle choice in order to assist their child to lead a healthier life. For more information please read the sections on Chiropractic and pregnancy, as well as Chiropractic and Children.

Does OHIP or my insurance plan cover chiropractic?

Unfortunately OHIP does not cover chiropractic care. Chiropractic care is included in most insurance and extended benefits plans, however, it is always best to contact your insurance provider in order to receive information relevant to your situation.

What education and training do chiropractors have?

Chiropractors spend four to five years in an accredited chiropractic college, and most have completed undergraduate pre-medical degrees prior to entering their chiropractic programs. Chiropractors are educated as primary-contact health care providers, with emphasis on management of conditions of the neuromusculoskeletal system (muscles, ligaments, joints and nerves).

Chiropractors are educated in orthopedics, neurology, physiology, human anatomy, clinical diagnosis, diagnostic imaging, rehabilitation and much more. Chiropractic adjustments require a high degree of skill in order for them to be successfully delivered and as such a significant portion of time is spent in clinical technique training in order to master these important procedures.

Chiropractors are trained to identify a wide range of disorders and work closely with other health care professionals in order to ensure appropriate patient managements and referral when needed.

What is a chiropractic adjustment?

An adjustment is a high velocity (fast), low amplitude (gentle) thrust into the joint in order to correct its position and/or motion. This procedure has been proven to be remarkably safe when administered by a chiropractor. Often adjustments are accompanied by an audible “click” or “cracking” sound. This sound is related to the release of gas from a joint and not related to bones abutting each other. In some instances there is no audible release from the joint however an adjustment is still performed.

Why is there a popping sound when a joint is adjusted?

The popping sound following an adjustment of a joint is associated with the release of a gas bubble between the joints. It is the same as you notice when people “crack” their knuckles. At times there is no popping sound, however an adjustment has still occurred.

Once I start chiropractic care do I have to keep going?

At family Chiropractic we provide our patients with the freedom to choose their level of chiropractic care, from short term relief to preventative maintenance. However we aspire to empower our patients to make positive lifestyle changes, of which regular chiropractic care is one such choice.

We excel at improving our patients health when it is lost but educate them to deal with problems before they become an issue as it is far easier to maintain good health then chase it when lost.

How many Ontarians use chiropractic?

Chiropractic is one of the largest primary-contact health care professions in Ontario, with more than 3,100 practicing chiropractors. Almost 2 million Ontarians use the services of a chiropractor each year to help them get back to work, and back to doing the things they love.

Does chiropractic care require X-rays?

X-rays can play a very important role as a diagnostic tool and are taken when your chiropractor has determined there is a need. Governments in every province in Canada have recognized the training and competence of chiropractors to take and interpret X-rays and have granted them this right.

If X-rays are required, your chiropractor will explain the reason why he/she feels they are necessary and if you have any concerns, feel free to discuss them with your chiropractor.

Is it safe to “crack” my own back/neck?

Most times when people “crack” their own back or neck they have misalignments in their spine that are leading to stiffness/soreness which results in the desire to “crack” the involved area. When you have a misalignment in the spine, resulting in a loss of motion, the segments above and below the locked up area move more in order to compensate. These hyper-mobile areas are the ones most people “crack” instead of the area that is causing the problem.

“Cracking” your own back or neck releases endorphins that make you feel better. The reality however is that you are likely not moving the area of the spine that requires it. The reason you feel better is because the endorphins released trick the brain. This can be explained simply with the following analogy:

If you cut your finger your brain registers the pain from the cut and you are made aware of the soreness. If someone were to stomp hard on your foot your brain would then prioritize this new insult over the pain in the hand and suddenly you no longer feel the cut. The cut is still present but you have tricked the brain into ignoring it.

Cracking your own back or neck can have some long term effects. Continuing to crack areas of the spine that are moving too much already can result in instability developing in that region. Areas of the spine that are unstable are prone to early degeneration (arthritis) which can in turn result in long term irreversible stiffness. Therefore we recommend that you leave the “cracking” to your chiropractor.

Chiropractors are skilled at identifying the misalignment in your spine and are adept at correcting them with highly specific adjustments.