Chiropractic is a primary health-care profession, so you do not need to be referred by your doctor. A chiropractor is trained to diagnose your problem and will refer you to another health-care practitioner if necessary.
Chiropractors treat problems with joints, bones and muscles, and the effects they have on the nervous system. Working on all the joints of the body, concentrating particularly on the spine, they use their hands to make often gentle, specific adjustments (the chiropractic word for manipulation) to improve the efficiency of the nervous system and release the body’s natural healing ability.
Chiropractic does not involve the use of any drugs or surgery.
Poor, inadequate or incorrect function in the spine can cause irritation of the nerves that control posture and movement. This spinal nerve stress (which may be caused by factors such as accident, poor diet, lack of exercise, poor posture and anxiety) can lead to the symptoms of discomfort and pain.
By manipulating joints, chiropractors stimulate the joint movement receptors – the body’s position sensors which provide feedback to the brain on where the joint is in space. This stimulation can affect the way the nervous system works. Depending on where the nerve irritation has occurred in the spine, symptoms may include the following:
- Headache or migraine
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Shoulder, arm, wrist and hand problems
- Leg, knee, ankle and foot problems
This is because the irritation of the nerve in one area can sometimes lead to pain (known as ‘referred’ pain) in other parts of the body. Painful symptoms are a warning sign which should not be ignored; a chiropractor is trained to diagnose the cause, and if indicated treat using manipulation.
The effectiveness of chiropractic treatment is supported by research as well as by various UK government and medical organisations. Chiropractic may be available to patients under the umbrella of the NHS, but this will depend on the situation within a specific NHS Primary Care Trust. Otherwise patients see chiropractors in a private capacity either through self referral or as a result of a referral from their GP, other doctor or health professional. BCA chiropractors also treat people who are seeking treatment through private health insurers.