- What is Chiropractic?
- How are chiropractors educated in Canada?
- Information about Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC)
- Is chiropractic treatment safe?
Chiropractic is one of the largest primary-contact health-care professions in Canada. Each year, millions of Canadians seek chiropractic care for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries.
Chiropractic is a regulated health profession recognized by statute in Manitoba and all other Canadian provinces. The benefits of chiropractic care are well recognized by other health practitioners, with more than 50 per cent of physicians referring patients for chiropractic treatment.
Chiropractic spinal manipulation (commonly referred to as a chiropractic adjustment) is a high speed/low force manual procedure which utilizes the highly-refined skills developed during four intensive years of post-university chiropractic education. The primary goal of chiropractic manipulation is to treat areas of pain, muscle tightness and restricted movement in the joints of the body, particularly the spine. Chiropractors assess disorders related to the spine, nervous system, and joints of the extremities and provide diagnosis, treatment and management of those disorders. Chiropractors are also trained to prescribe rehabilitative exercises and other non-invasive therapies including nutritional advice and soft tissue therapy.
Spinal manipulation, as practiced by trained chiropractors, is a highly controlled procedure that is often but not necessarily associated with a cracking sound. The manipulative procedure rarely causes discomfort. The chiropractor adapts the procedure to meet the specific needs of each patient. Spinal manipulation is a very effective treatment to be sure, but not all patients are candidates for nor want this type of treatment. There are other manual procedures that can be utilized and are just as effective as the traditional chiropractic adjustment. Patients often note positive changes in their symptoms immediately following treatment.
The vast majority of patients who seek chiropractic care do so for complaints of the musculoskeletal system, most often for conditions affecting the spine. Scientific study of spinal adjustment has clearly demonstrated that chiropractic treatment improves function and is effective for common conditions such as headache, and neck and back pain. Between 86 and 96 per cent of all visits to chiropractors are for these or similar conditions.
In many cases, such as acute lower back pain, chiropractic care may be the primary method of treatment. Where other medical conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects of discomfort associated with the condition. Chiropractic care may also be palliative, providing symptomatic relief to patients with chronic conditions.
In Canada, chiropractors are educated through two programs offered at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) in Toronto, and at l'Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR). Both programs are fully accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education of Canada (CCEC) which has adopted standards similar to those of the Council on Chiropractic Education in the United States which is, in turn, recognized by the United States Department of Education.
Chiropractic students undergo a rigorous course of study similar to that of other health care professionals. Entrance requirements are also similar. Students are required to complete a minimum of three years of university before they are eligible for admission to the CMCC accredited program which requires four years of full-time study and a year-long internship in the College's clinics.
In addition to the academic program, chiropractic education requires hands-on clinical experience under the direct supervision of highly-qualified chiropractic faculty. This experience includes clinical assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and referral protocols. The faculty at both CMCC and UQTR has diverse backgrounds and offer students a wide range of expertise. Faculty comes from such disciplines as biological sciences, pathology, medicine and psychology, as well as chiropractic. Both the CMCC and the UQTR programs include courses in anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, neurology, and embryology, principles of chiropractic, radiology, immunology, microbiology, pathology, nutrition, and clinical sciences specifically relating to diagnosis.
The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College has been a leader in chiropractic research since the 1960's. The College has dedicated itself to the development of an ongoing, productive research program. Faculty have been successful in obtaining research grants from funding agencies and have published extensively in peer-reviewed and refereed chiropractic journals, as well as in multi-disciplinary journals such as the British Medical Journal, Spine, Annals of Internal Medicine, Pain, The Lancet, and The New England Journal of Medicine.
Over the years, CMCC has developed relationships with faculty in other academic institutions in North America. Research collaborations have taken place with faculty from the University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, McMaster University, University of Western Ontario, University of Alberta, Institute for Work and Health, St. Michael's Hospital, Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, University of Calgary, University of Saskatchewan, The Texas Back Institute, and St. Joseph's Hospital, Hamilton.
Before beginning practice, a chiropractor is required to pass rigorous national Board Examinations. Then he or she must pass another set of examinations applying to the provincial Licensing Board for the right to practice. Chiropractors complete many hours of post-graduate instruction for an annual license renewal. Throughout his or her career a chiropractor will attend seminars, scientific symposia and read professional journals to keep up with ongoing research. This professional development keeps the chiropractor well-equipped with the skills needed to provide patients with safe and effective chiropractic care.
Just as the medical profession in general must be completely certain that the care they provide is safe, so too must the chiropractic profession. Few medical treatments have been scrutinized in as much detail as chiropractic. The safety and effectiveness of chiropractic treatment has been studied very carefully.
Complications from chiropractic treatments are rare. Your chiropractor will discuss all potential side effects and any risks along with the benefits of the care you receive. If your chiropractor diagnoses a problem that would be better treated by another health care professional, he or she will make an appropriate referral.