Clinical Pearls

Questions Answered From 35 Years of Practice

Welcome to our  Clinical Pearls FAQ section, where we’ve compiled answers to some of the most common questions based on over 35 years of invaluable experience as chiropractors. Dive in to discover expert insights and gain a deeper understanding of chiropractic care!

Q: What type of pillow or mattress is best for me?

A: Use comfort as your best guide. Trust your body to tell you what feels best – how quickly can you get comfortable when you first get into bed and feel rested and comfortable in the morning? 

There is a vast variety of materials, styles, forms, and technologies in pillows and mattresses. Test until you are happy.

Typically, you get what you pay for. Better quality, product durability, reliability, and manufacturer support are reflected in the cost.

Each individual has their own specific needs in sleep products. This can include firmer or softer, foam or traditional, moulded or free form, etc. Again, test until you are happy.

Better mattress stores/manufacturers usually have a return policy allowing home users to thoroughly test whether they have the right product. Watch for those opportunities.

A couple of caveats: 

  1. If you are having difficulty getting comfortable in bed or waking up sore because you are experiencing nerve, muscle or joint issues, you cannot accurately test sleep products. What feels comfortable when having these issues may not feel right when the problems have been resolved. Your Doctor of Chiropractic can inform you when it is appropriate to test different products. In the meantime, do whatever is necessary to get the best sleep possible.
  2. Even the best pillows and mattresses have a shelf life. In my experience, mattresses show wear effects after 10-12 years through structural changes that reduce support and comfort. Pillow shelf lives are less predictable, but you’ll know when to replace them.
  3. Your body also changes over time. When looking to replace pillows or mattresses, be aware that what was appropriate ten years ago may not be relevant today.
  4. Always… TRUST YOUR BODY. 
Q: Can I do massage, exercise, or physiotherapy while under chiropractic care?

A: Yes and no. Additional or alternative therapies and strategies are dependent upon the nature of your specific case and the stage of healing you are at. 

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Q: When can low back exercises fix my low back pain without going to the chiropractor?

A: Each incident of low back pain is unique to the person and the situation. There are times when stopping a harmful activity combined with heat and light stretching and mobility exercises are sufficient to meet your needs. If so, it does not qualify for the corrective spinal adjustments of chiropractic care, although the chiropractic physician will guide the self-care process for you. It is also essential to understand the sequence of care.

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Q: How many times and how often will I need to be adjusted before my problem goes away?

A: Every case is different and depends on the severity of the problem, the length of time it has been present, your age, occupation, previous injury history, lifestyle and daily habits, among other factors. All of these factors must be considered when determining a treatment plan and schedule – or even if your situation fits within the scope of our treatment.

Chiropractic treatment regimens are based on a series of treatment sessions to reduce dysfunctional biomechanical movement patterns in the musculoskeletal system progressively, allow the body to return to a functional state, and re-learn how to self-regulate proper movement patterns. This requires adaptive changes mediated through the nervous system, and the repetition drives that adaption.

The interval between treatment sessions is based on two significant factors:

  1. Your body needs enough time to adapt to the treatment.
    If too much is done too frequently, the overload can overwhelm the body.
  2. We want to introduce new healing stimuli once the adaptation from the last treatment has been achieved, but before the body begins to revert to its dysfunction.
    Your body’s instinct is to preserve and maintain the status quo or what it knows best. If the status quo happens to be dysfunctional or injured, it is unfortunate, but that is still the default that your body wants to preserve. Through chiropractic treatment, we introduce progressive change that allows you to embrace a new and more functional norm that your body will work just as hard to preserve and sustain.

So, as your condition improves, the body can maintain change better and longer, and the treatments get spaced further apart.

Many patients will continue treatments regularly but infrequently to reinforce the functional norm. What that treatment schedule looks like is very individual. Depending on several factors, some people will be seen once every 3 or 4 weeks, and others perhaps 3-4 times yearly.

Q: How has chiropractic changed over the years?

A: This is a very interesting question and has multiple components.

1. Basic chiropractic techniques are very similar to what the founders established over 100 years ago. They are still based on an adjustment where corrective movement is introduced.

The current science explaining why it works is quite different, however. Back in 1895, it was believed that bones were actually out of place, that the adjustment “racked” them back into place and that when bones were “out,” they actively pinched nerves, interfering with nerve flow, much like “stepping on a hose to impede the flow of water.”

We now realize that we are correcting faulty joint motion. Joints in distress will “seize up” and create painful protective muscle spasms and, when severe, inflammation. In turn, this will disrupt the proper messaging carried by the nerves, alter the body’s normal rhythms and patterns, and create pain symptoms.

So, in contrast to the technological advances that have come out of medical research, chiropractic has found that the research (from many different scientific and medical fields) has caught up to explain what we are influencing and why it is so effective.

2. Due to research and study, chiropractic techniques have become more refined and specific over time, in much the same way each practitioner becomes more subtle and refined in their physical treatment techniques.

Also, we now better understand when and why to engage the patient in adjunctive therapies like IMS, ART, and deep tissue massage and when to refer for co-operative care or alternative care.

3. Chiropractic is now much more mainstream than it has ever been. There is greater cooperation with historically antagonistic professions, with government and insurance companies, and a much greater acceptance by the general public, which has seen a dramatic increase in the utilization of our services.

Q: Why do I need to get worse before I get better?

A: It is not necessary to get worse before you get better. However, chiropractic care works within a dynamic and very reactive system. We do not believe in the concept of “No Pain – No Gain” as much as the idea of “No Change – No Gain.”
Therefore, as you respond to treatment, you may experience any of the following changes:
1. Muscle ache.
2. Fatigue.
3. Hidden Problems and Layers of Correction

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Q: How do I know which form of therapy to use and when?

A: Doctors of Chiropractic are interested in getting to the root cause of your problem. Each case requires a history, physical examination, and other tests. This is the groundwork for establishing a working diagnosis, and from here, a treatment plan is created. The treatment plan will establish a “Sequence of Care” protocol, and your chiropractor will guide you through the sometimes confusing path to a return to normal function and the resultant symptom relief.  

Q: Should I be massaged before i get adjusted to relax the muscles first?

A: Typically, no. Adjustment first.

Q: Does every patient require the same schedule and number of treatments?

A: While there are scheduling similarities among all the people we work with, each individual has specific needs based on many different factors. Age, occupation, duration of symptoms, injury history, sports background, severity of symptoms, and many other pre-existing or complicating factors must be considered when creating a treatment plan for each person.  

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