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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked
questions about chiropractic.

• What is Chiropractic?

When we examine the Greek roots of the word Chiropractic, we find that it means ‘done by hand’, and in fact, the science of Chiropractic is literally founded on manual (by hand) adjustments of vertebral and other joints. As the spinal cord is housed within the spinal column, poor functioning of the column can result in irritation of the nervous system. Chiropractic care seeks to detect, correct and prevent this issue. It also serves to relieve pain and to restore the joints and nervous system to their normal functioning. This approach is therefore a natural option for pain reduction. The chiropractor, through adjustments to the vertebrae and through her recommendations (exercises, posture, etc.) stands as a partner in the recovery of her patients’ health.

Source: the official website of the Canadian Chiropractic Association,

• What is a Vertebral Subluxation?

A Vertebral Subluxation is defined as an alternation in the movement normally present between two or more of the vertebrae in the spinal column. There are many possible causes for these alterations. The most easily identified causes of Vertebral Subluxation are: falls, car accidents, awkward movements, the adoption of a poor posture, and repetitive motions. Stress, whether physical or emotional, is a precipitating event which is often underestimated by patients.

Such modifications of normal spinal column biomechanics will result in the irritation of one or more nerves, an event which is often wrongly described as a ‘pinched nerve’. The irritation will further result in muscle tension and localized inflammation. This phenomenon, which can initially present completely asymptomatically, will eventually make itself known in various manners (i.e. pain, stiffness). Unfortunately, Vertebral Subluxation rarely resolves itself, which is why it is important to consult with a chiropractor so that she may identify and correct these subluxations.

• What can I expect during my first visit to the clinic?

Before beginning any treatment, the chiropractor carries out an initial examination. This examination includes completing a health questionnaire, a comprehensive medical history, a description of daily habits, and a discussion with the chiropractor regarding the onset and evolution of the current symptoms. The next step is a physical examination, which includes a postural analysis, range of motion assessment, orthopaedic and neurological tests. Following that, the chiropractor will evaluate the mobility of the spinal column and determine whether any tension or muscle spasms are present. Finally the chiropractor will decide whether or not it is necessary to take any X-Rays of the area in question. The results of your exam and the proposed treatment plan will be explained to you on your second visit, after the chiropractor has examined the combined results. Please be aware that in certain cases, the chiropractor may decide to do a treatment on the first visit, but this depends on several factors, primarily the condition of the patient.

• How would you describe a Chiropractic treatment?

The foundation of a Chiropractic treatment is the vertebral adjustment. According to l’Ordre des Chiropraticiens du Québec , a Chiropractic adjustment is defined as: “a therapeutic procedure (joint manipulation), where the force, direction, amplitude and velocity are controlled”1. This procedure works towards the improvement of the range of motion in a given joint. The chiropractor will also use soft tissue techniques in order to reduce tension within the muscle mass. She will also offer you various suggestions regarding exercises, posture, and healthy lifestyle choices.

Each patient’s condition is unique, and so it is important to understand that the treatment will be adapted to suit the patient’s current complaint, while always taking into account factors such as the age and size of the patient. This careful evaluation of each person’s individual needs means that the techniques used in treatment, as well as the frequency and length of visits, will vary from patient to patient.

1 Source: The official site of L’Ordre des Chiropraticiens du Québec,

• Will my chiropractic treatment be painful?

While some patients may experience mild discomfort following their treatment due to the presence of inflammation or muscular tension, Chiropractic adjustments are safe and generally painless. If the patient experiences discomfort, the chiropractor will modify her approach in order to make the treatment more comfortable. The chiropractor will also suggest that the patient apply ice following a treatment, with a view to limiting pain associated with inflammation.

• Can a Chiropractic treatment be done without the ‘cracking’ sound?

Absolutely! Cavitation, commonly described as a ‘cracking’ sound, actually results from the displacement of gaseous bubbles within the fluid of the joint. Nothing is broken! While this phenomenon is not at all painful, some people are not comfortable hearing that cracking sound during their treatment. It is important to mention this to your chiropractor, who will use another treatment technique, still using either her hands or a specialized instrument. The treatment can be done with no cavitation and remains equally effective.

• How long should I receive Chiropractic care?

As each patient has a unique profile, the number of treatments necessary in order to gain relief varies from person to person. There are many factors to consider; among the most important are the severity and the chronicity of the symptoms. The duration of the care will also depend on the results that the patient wishes to achieve. Generally, relief of symptoms is accomplished fairly rapidly. If, however, the patient wishes to stabilize his or her condition, the number of treatments will be greater and will still vary according to the condition and to the technique employed. Finally, many patients choose to adopt regular Chiropractic care among their healthy life habits. It all comes down to the priorities and preferences of the patient.

• Should children receive Chiropractic treatments?

How often do we see our children fall down, then get up and go on with their play? These falls may seem harmless; but they nevertheless have an impact on the spinal column of the child. The spinal column is also affected when there is a difficult birth, or later on, if a school bag is worn improperly (or is too heavy!). The child will not necessarily complain of back pain, but as these stresses placed on the spinal column accumulate there can be a long term impact. This is why we recommend regular spinal checkups for children. As always, adjustment techniques are modified in order to respond to the specific needs of the individual child, taking into account the age, size and condition of the patient.

• What education has my chiropractor received?

In Québec, future chiropractors must complete a five-year doctorat de premier cycle universitaire from l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, which includes an 18 month clinical internship within the university. During the course, the Chiropractic student will receive an education in anatomy, neurology, biomechanics, radiology, and adjustment techniques, among other subjects. There are numerous other Chiropractic schools around the world, including one in Toronto (Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College) and many in the United States. Regardless of where the chiropractic student completed their training, if they wish to enjoy the privilege of practising in Quebec, they must register with l’Ordre des Chiropracticiens du Québec and succeed in their registration exams. Once they have done this the chiropractor must remain a member in good standing with l’Ordre des Chiropraticiens du Québec and renew their radiology permit annually in order to be allowed to continue their practice.

Source: the official website of l’Association des Chiropratique du Québec,

• What is the difference between chiropractic, physiotherapy and osteopathy?

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