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What Does a Chiropractor Do? Here’s How They Help

Picture of Armin Ghayyur

Armin Ghayyur

Approximately one in eight Canadians visit a chiropractor each year. Chiropractic treatment is becoming a staple in the medical industry.

More people are turning towards non-invasive and non-surgical techniques for managing their pain. And pain is one of the biggest reasons that people visit chiropractors. 

There are many different diagnoses that chiropractors treat. Some people wonder if their chronic pain, injury, or disability can be treated by a chiropractor. Treatment plans and sessions can vary between different diagnoses. 

If you have an interest in learning more about chiropractic treatments, then keep reading on. 

What Is a Chiropractor?

Chiropractors are highly trained medical professionals. They utilize a variety of manual therapies and cutting-edge technology. In return, this helps reduce pain, immobility, and disability. 

In Canada, future chiropractors must have at least seven years of schooling at higher education. Before entering chiropractic schools, students complete a variety of pre-requisites. These classes help prep for chiropractic school. 

Once accepted into chiropractic school, they complete four to five more years of specialized schooling. Just like physicians, they also complete clinical rotations for more hands-on training. 

After finishing a year-long internship, chiropractors can become eligible for licensure. They must take and pass a national examination. After this, it is common that chiropractors will specialize in different fields. 

In general, this field of therapy offers alternative treatments to surgical interventions.  

What Happens During a Chiropractic Treatment?

An initial assessment is completed when someone first arrives for the clinic. During this time, the patient can express what is bothering them. From here, a chiropractor can implement a course of treatment.

Chiropractors use manual therapy, exercises, and modalities. These tools address a variety of diagnoses and symptoms. Some common manual techniques include soft tissue therapy, joint mobilizations, and spinal manipulations.

Chiropractors also provide education on exercises and healthy lifestyle changes. They can incorporate modalities into the treatment plan. Modalities may include ultrasound, laser, electrotherapy, and shockwave therapy.

These practitioners use shockwave therapy mainly for soft tissue injuries. It uses sound waves that help improve blood circulation and break down scar tissue. As many as 80% of patients report an improvement in symptoms. 

What Can Chiropractor Treat?

Chiropractors treat a variety of conditions in a person’s nervous and musculoskeletal system. Pain is one of the biggest reasons people see a chiropractor. This pain can arise from muscle strains, arthritis, and orthopedic injuries.

It can also take the form of headaches and other chronic issues. 

Worldwide, musculoskeletal pain is the leading cause of disability. The prevalence of this disability is approximately 6% higher in underdeveloped countries. Chiropractors play a critical role in managing musculoskeletal pain.

By helping reduce pain in the musculoskeletal system, it can reduce the causes of disability around the globe. 

One common question is, ‘when to stop chiropractic treatment?’ Your chiropractor can help answer this as the treatment sessions progress. Usually, when someone’s pain decreases their treatments are cut down.

Your chiropractor might also suggest an improvement in function as another indicator. 

Additionally, some exercises can carry over at home. Someone can also look at receiving mobile health therapy. Mobile health brings a chiropractor to the person so that they can receive treatment at work or home. 

Back Pain

One of the main diagnoses that chiropractors treat is back pain. Many people ask the question, ‘when to see a chiropractor for back pain’?

Approximately one in eight Canadians report chronic back issues. This shines a light on the significant impact that back injuries and pain have on society. 

There are dozens of joints in the spine. Any one of these can contribute to increased pain, lack of mobility, or impairment. Chiropractors help back pain through joint mobilizations, spinal manipulations, and other manual techniques. 

This expertise can greatly help people with low back pain by helping realign the spine, relieve nerve pain, and optimize function. 

Neck Pain

Similar to back pain, neck pain is another common diagnosis seen by chiropractors. The treatment plans can also largely resemble one another. 

Neck pain can result from several factors including trauma, poor posture, and pinched nerves. Chiropractors can assess the musculoskeletal and nervous systems before determining treatment plans. 

Some of the treatments may be joint distractions, manipulation, mobilization, or treatment interventions. A chiropractor can also educate people on exercises and optimizing ergonomics at home or work. 

Headache & Migraines

Migraines and headaches are complex diagnoses that are one of the leading causes of disability. A study examined neurological migraine treatment in conjunction with chiropractors.

More than three-quarters of migraine sufferers also report stiffness in their necks. There were also complaints of increased muscle tension, and jaw tension. Some of the treatments that chiropractors used in these case studies included:

  • Soft tissue release
  • Spinal and postural exercises
  • Spinal manipulation
  • Trigger point therapy

Many of the manual techniques targeted the neck, upper back, and facial regions. These patients reported less pain, decreased reliance on medication, and decreased anxiety. 

Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve can cause shooting pain or numbness in the region. Most times, a pinched nerve happens when joints or muscles press on it. Some of the common causes are muscle tension, bulging discs, or impingement.

Spinal manipulation and joint mobilization can sometimes help in relieving the pressure and pain. Chiropractors will also utilize exercises and education in their treatment plans.

Oftentimes, poor posture and lifting techniques can lead to a pinched nerve. A chiropractor can also send patients with a home exercise program and educational tools.  

Muscle Spasms

Does chiropractic treatment help with muscle spasms? Tension or muscle spasms arise from an injury, poor stretching, dehydration, and more. 

A chiropractor can help by using massage, trigger point release, and other manual techniques. Range of motion can play a key role in muscle spasms. If you have constant back spasms, your chiropractor can show you stretches that you can do at home.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is highly debilitating and can lead to surgical intervention. Non-surgical interventions are increasing in popularity for the treatment of CTS.

In CTS, the median nerve runs through a small tunnel in the wrist and hand that helps innervate and control the portion of the hand. However, this small tunnel can easily become inflamed and cause a variety of problems.

Someone might notice pain, numbness, or tingling. These presentations are typically in the thumb, index finger, and middle finger. It can eventually lead to more disability and dysfunction like impaired grip or loss of sensation. 

There are a variety of modalities that chiropractors use for CTS symptoms including:

  • Shock-wave therapy
  • Laser
  • Ultrasound

Nerve glides can also help relieve pain and improve range of motion or mobility. Sometimes splinting or home exercises are used in the comprehensive treatment plan. 


Impaired mobility is a contributing factor to disability. It can cause missed work and inhibit you from enjoying hobbies or the company of family and friends. 

A good example of improving mobility through chiropractic care is with athletes. Reduced mobility can inhibit an athlete from returning to their sport sooner. 

Chiropractors can improve joint mobility and decrease tissue restriction. This can improve fluidity and range of motion which decreases pain and promotes healthier joints, tissues, and bones. 

Some early studies are even looking at how chiropractic care helps with osteoarthritis symptoms. In animal studies, joint mobilizations and adjustments can help slow down the progression of arthritis. 

Helps Improve Posture

Poor posture leads to a variety of issues such as neck pain, back pain, headaches, and more. Chiropractors help improve posture through manipulation and soft tissue techniques. They can also use trigger point release. 

Chiropractors can also give education on proper form and exercises. These are additional tools that help long-term success for improving posture in patients.

Are Chiropractic Treatments Safe?

Chiropractic treatments are generally considered safe for the average person. Keep in mind – each chiropractor may have different qualifications and treatments.  

Researching a clinic and chiropractor beforehand is a critical part of the process. Additionally, your chiropractor should be licensed.

However, just like any form of therapy or treatment, there are some disadvantages of chiropractic treatments. For instance, some physicians contraindicate chiropractic treatment for specific cancers. 

Some examples of this are bone cancer and leukemia. People taking blood thinners might also fall under the contraindication category. If someone has osteoporosis, they should speak to their doctor first.

Joint or spinal manipulations may be contraindicated.

Where Can You Find a Chiropractor?

Finding the right chiropractor and chiropractic treatment plans can make a world of difference. People who suffer from pain – acute or chronic – can benefit from seeing a chiropractor. Oftentimes, these healthcare professionals can reduce surgical interventions and disability. 

In return, this improves a person’s quality of life. Finding a skilled and qualified chiropractor starts with a reputable clinic. With multiple in-person and mobile clinicscontact us today. Let us help you start the process of booking an appointment.


Everyday Health

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