Chiropractic Care and Registered Massage Therapy
By: Dr. Peggy Malone
On this week’s episode of my television show ‘Living Well’, the topic was more complementary and alternative health care.
In a previous post, I reviewed Episode #7 where we learned chatted with a Naturopathic Doctor and a Holistic Nutritionist/Allergist.
On this week’s episode, I chatted with Chiropractor Dr. Shaun Burgess and Registered Massage Therapist Heather Vance.
Chiropractic is something that is obviously near and dear to my heart as I am, and have been, a practicing Chiropractor for nearly 10 years.
In my experience, Chiropractic is a practice that often has a cloud of mythology covering it and I wanted to use this opportunity to help to dispel some of those myths!
Here is a review of what Dr. Burgess and I discussed on the show:
What is Chiropractic?
The term ‘Chiropractic’ comes from the Greek language and it essentially means: ‘Done by hand’. So in the treatment of their patients, Chiropractors don’t use drugs, surgery or medications. Chiropractic is a non-invasive, hands on health care discipline.
A Chiropractor is a practitioner that has expertise in, and focuses on the neuromusculoskeletal system of the body. That’s a big word that means that a Chiropractor can take care of your nerves, muscles, bones and joints…from head to toe.
Many people think that Chiropractors just work on the spine but other joints in the body are successfully treated by Chiropractic as well.
Chiropractors practice a manual approach, providing diagnosis, treatment and preventive care for disorders related to the spine, pelvis, nervous system and joints.
Why would someone seek out Chiropractic Care?
The most common reasons that people first walk into a Chiropractor’s office are because they are experiencing back pain, neck pain or headaches. There is an abundance of evidence to show that Chiropractic can offer relief to these conditions.
Once people have experienced relief from the initial ache or pain that brought them in, many of them also note that they receive benefits that they didn’t at first expect. The lovely side effect of regular chiropractic adjustments for many people is an all over increased level of health and wellness.
As a result, many patients choose to continue with Wellness care to continue feeling good after the initial crisis that brought them in to the Chiropractic office.
Wellness care can help those people who don’t necessarily have any aches, pains or complaints to feel better and perform optimally.
Do I need a referral from my medical doctor to see a Chiropractor to receive chiropractic care?
Doctors of Chiropractic are considered to be primary health care providers which means they can be seen without a referral by a medical doctor.
Chiropractors are regulated primary health care professionals, and they are one of only five classes of health care professionals in Ontario that are able to use the title Doctor, with its accompanying rights and obligations.
The education and training that a Chiropractor receives allows them to assess, diagnose, treat and prevent a variety of complaints. It also puts them in a position to be able to refer you back to your medical doctor if they feel that chiropractic care is not appropriate for the complaint you have presented to their office with.
What is the education that a Doctor of Chiropractic must go through?
A chiropractor must complete a 4 year undergraduate degree followed by a 4 year Doctor of Chiropractic post graduate program.
Some are surprised to hear that Chiropractors have an education with a similar timeline to that of your general practitioner.
What is an adjustment?
An adjustment is the primary tool in the ‘tool-box’ of a Chiropractor. It is a highly skilled and precise movement usually applied by hand to a joint of the body. Adjustment loosens the joint to restore proper movement and optimize function.
Chiropractors use a combination of treatments, all of which address the specific needs of the individual patient. After taking a complete history and diagnosing a patient, a chiropractor can develop and carry out a comprehensive treatment/management plan, recommend therapeutic exercise and other non-invasive therapies, and provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counselling.
What makes the cracking noise during some adjustments?
When a joint is adjusted, a gas bubble escapes causing the popping noise. It’s similar to the popping noise that you hear when you open a jar.
Who is at risk for back pain and back related problems?
Eight out of ten Canadians will experience back pain at some point in their life, and at least one third of people will have back pain at any given time. For many people, the pain can keep them away from work, school or even their day-to-day activities. If pain causes interruptions and restrictions in the activities of your daily life then you should consult a health care provider.
The reason for all this pain is partly because as a society we sit way too much. Our jobs and leisure time require more sitting which is a big risk factor for back pain.
What should I expect at my first visit to a Chiropractor?
The chiropractor will first take a complete health history. Then they will do a physical exam that often includes looking at your posture and assessing your muscles and joints to look for restrictions and tight spots or imbalances. They will then provide a diagnosis and let you know what to expect in terms of a treatment/management plan. They may also recommend therapeutic exercise or provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling. Many Chiropractors will begin treatment at the first visit as well.
How do you find a good Chiropractor?
The best way to find any health care provider is to ask the people in your life who you trust to tell you who they see. Word of mouth referrals will usually give you the best idea of what to expect and you’ll know that someone you know and trust has had a good experience with the practitioner.
If you would like to contact Dr. Shaun Burgess or make an appointment, you can find him at 2 Second Avenue in St. Thomas, Ontario. His phone number is 519-633-9333.
My second guest for Episode 12 was Registered Massage Therapist Heather Vance.
Chiropractors and Registered Massage Therapists often work together because their services tend to complement each other to offer the best experience for many patients.
Here is a review of what Heather and I chatted about:
What is Registered Massage Therapy?
Massage therapists work with their hands to manipulate the soft tissues of the body which include your skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.
If your massage therapist is registered (RMT), they are a practitioner who is a member of a regulated health profession. This means that they are registered and are regulated by a governing body. In Ontario it is the College of Massage Therapists.
You can also be assured that if your massage therapist is registered, they have gone through significant education and testing and have been well trained at what they do.
This is an important distinction because if you receive relaxational massage at a spa or resort, you may not necessarily be getting the care of a Registered Massage Therapist.
What are the benefits of Registered Massage Therapy?
Massage aims to develop, maintain, augment or rehabilitate physical function in the body.
The first thing most people are looking for when they visit a massage therapist is to relax and release tight and tense muscles brought on by the stressful activities and postures that most of us put our bodies into everyday. This will help to reduce overall levels of stress both physical and psychological.
For all of us (and it really is all of us) who abuse our bodies in our busy lives by sitting for long hours in a car, or at a desk in front of a computer, our bodies are in a dysfunctional state, massage can help to increase circulation, restore proper function to the body and offer relief of the many aches and pains brought on by those repetitive postures.
Massage can also help to prevent these aches and pains if received before you get into crisis.
What are some conditions or ailments that respond well to Registered Massage Therapy?
Repetitive strain injuries like tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis and golfer’s elbow all respond well to receiving massage.
Headaches related to tightness, tension and trigger points in the muscles of the neck, shoulders and upper back also respond extremely well to the care of a Registered Massage Therapist.
The tight and tense muscles associated with low back pain can also be relieved by massage.
What is the best way to find a good Registered Massage Therapist?
Word of mouth is the best way to find a practitioner of any kind. So once again, talk to family and friends and get a referral from someone you trust to a therapist that has helped them to get great results.
Different Registered Massage Therapists offer different techniques and if you know what sort of care you are looking for, getting a referral from a trusted source will be that much easier.
How can athletes or fitness enthusiasts benefit from the care of a Registered Massage Therapist?
Anyone who is regularly active knows what delayed onset muscle soreness feels like after a hard workout. Massage can help to relieve that pain and get you back to your activities sooner. It can also increase the function of your muscles and joints so that you will perform better in your activity or sport.
Are there different kinds of massage?
Swedish massage is the most common type of massage and what most people experience with their massage therapist. The RMT (Registered Massage Therapist) uses strokes and techniques on the muscles to increase circulation and function in the body.
There is also Deep Tissue Therapy which incorporates some deeper pressure to get at some underlying trigger points and tightness.
Hot Stone Massage Therapy is another type of massage that may be experienced in a relaxational way at a spa or in a more therapeutic way with an RMT.
If you would like to contact or make an appointment with RMT Heather Vance, she can be found at Lifemark Physiotherapy at 140 Fifth Avenue in St. Thomas, Ontario.
Her phone number is 519-633-4300.
If you have been thinking about seeking out the care of a Chiropractor or a Registered Massage Therapist, I hope that today’s post has given you some insight and information to make a good choice on the journey to better health and wellness.
Until next time,
Dr. Peggy Malone is a Chiropractor and an Athlete who helps other athletes to overcome injury and get back to their sport. Her weekly Television Series 'Living Well" inspires people from all walks of life to take control of their health to be as happy and as healthy as they can be.
A former varsity Basketball and Rugby player, she has since entered the world of endurance athletics where she has completed 2 Ironman Triathlons, 3 Marathons, several Half Marathons and many other Triathlons, Road Races and Off-Road Adventure races of varying distances.
Her own athletic endeavors and injuries have given her valuable insight into working with athletes in her practice for both the care of injuries as well as for the improvement of athletic performance.
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Great post Dr. Peggy! I really had no idea what a RMT was, how they were trained or what they actually did. It's pretty impressive!
Great informative article. Thanks for sharing the basics behind chiropractic care.
Thanks so much for your comments Dr. Karyn!