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What is Chiropractic? Training and Qualifications
Our Service How safe is Chiropractic?

What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including, but not limited to, back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.

Doctors of Chiropractic practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.

The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as “spinal manipulation,” also called “chiropractic adjustment.” The purpose of manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypomobile – or restricted in their movement – as a result of a tissue injury. Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function for the sufferer. Manipulation, or adjustment of the affected joint and tissues, restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, and allowing tissues to heal.

Chiropractic adjustments rarely cause discomfort. However, patients may sometimes experience mild soreness or aching following treatment (as with some forms of exercise) that usually resolves within 12 to 48 hours.

Chiropractic Treatment

In many cases, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care may be the primary method of treatment. When other medical conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition.

Doctors of chiropractic may assess patients through clinical examination, laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging and other diagnostic interventions to determine when chiropractic treatment is appropriate or when it is not appropriate. Chiropractors will readily refer patients to the appropriate health care provider when chiropractic care is not suitable for the patient’s condition, or the condition warrants co-management in conjunction with other members of the health care team.

Our Service

Our motto is "treat the cause, not the symptoms". Our highly specialised training and techniques allow us to detect and correct underlying causes of pain and ill health. By correcting the underlying causes, pain and symptoms dissipate as natural function is restored to all nerves, organs, tissues and cells of the body. Improved function means better health and more strength, energy and vitality.

First visit - before the course of treatment, the patient is always thoroughly examined. The purpose of the examination is to decide whether the problem qualifies for chiropractic treatment and also to make as precise a diagnosis as possible.

Patient's History - The patient will be asked about working conditions, previous diseases, operations, medicine taken, as well as general questions about their lifestyle.

Examination - The patient's problem will be examined in detail with relevant testing, such as orthopaedic (bone) and neurological (nerve), testing the patient's joint and muscle functions.

X-ray examination - It may be necessary to X-ray the part of the body where the patient is experiencing problems.

Training and Qualifications

University Degree

To become a registered chiropractor in Australia you must have completed a minimum of 5 years of relevant university education, obtaining two degrees. Coulter, PhD, et al., in a recent American comparison of the hours of study of three chiropractic and three medical schools, found that the chiropractor curriculum totalled an average of 4,800 hours, while medical schools averaged 4,667 hours. It was interesting to note that while medical students have more extensive clinical training, chiropractic students receive, on average, the same number of hours of microbiology (120 hours) and, very surprisingly, more hours of pathology (205 vs. 162), anatomy (570 vs. 368) and physiology (205 vs. 142)*
* (Reference: Coulter, et al., A comparative study of chiropractic and medical education, Alternative Therapies 1008;4(5):64-75)

These significant qualifications are recognised by chiropractors being permitted to use the title 'Doctor'. The training also means:

  • Chiropractors are primary health care practitioners - you don't need a referral to see a chiropractor
  • A chiropractor is educated to refer out if necessary
  • A chiropractor is a whole health practitioners, not merely a back therapist
  • Chiropractors can refer for x-rays, but are also qualified to take x-rays and make diagnosis from the images

How safe is chiropractic?

Let's compare the risks associated with serious injury from chiropractic against other common treatments:
(Source: "Efficacy and Risks of Chiropractic Manipulation: What Does The Evidence Suggest?" by Ian Coulter, Ph.D., Journal Integrative Medicine, volume 1, number 2, pp. 61-66)

The risk of a complication with:

  • Neck adjusting is 6.39 per 10 million adjustments, and 1 in 1 million for low back adjustments.
  • Cervical spine surgeries is 15.6 per 1000.
  • The use of anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) risk is 3.2 complications per 1000, or 32,000 per 10 million.

So the likelihood of complication with surgery is 24,413 times worse than from a neck adjustment and the risk of complications with anti-inflammatory drugs is 5,007 times more likely than a chiropractic neck adjustment.

Statistically, to get seriously injured by drugs is over five thousand times more likely.

In addition (and to put things in perspective),

Lightning Strike
You are more likely to get struck by lightning than being injured by your neck adjustment!
  • There is a greater risk of being struck by lightning than the risk of stroke from a cervical chiropractic adjustment.
  • The risk of death resulting from several common diagnostic tests is greater than the risk of stroke from a cervical chiropractic adjustment.
  • If our clinic is more than 1.5kms from your home, you are more likely to be involved in a serious car accident going to or from our clinic than you are to suffer a stroke from a cervical chiropractic adjustment.
  • The odds of dying from a cervical chiropractic adjustment are about the same as dying in a crash while on board a commercial airplane.
  • The risk of death from gastrointestinal bleeding from NSAIDS (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug) usage, the most common treatment for pain, is 400 in one million - far greater than the risk of stroke from a cervical chiropractic adjustment.