A Guide To: Chiropractic

Chiropractor and founder of Back and Bodyworks Gillian Tsang introduces her craft, and shares what to expect when you visit one.
26 Oct 2022
Words by: The New Moon

What is chiropractic?

Chiropractic is the healthcare system dedicated to the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of the musculoskeletal and nervous system.

The focus is on the spine and it’s function which encompasses strength, mobility, alignment. When there is dysfunction, it can affect the surrounding structures like muscles (muscle spasm/contraction/under activation), nerves (compression, irritation, inflammation), circulatory abnormalities (blood circulation, waste product recirculation -‘stasis’).

On a larger scale this can cause disturbances systemically i.e affecting normal organ function. An example would be serious nerve compression affect bowel and bladder function.

Chiropractic care takes a preventative and wellness focus on the paradigm of healthcare, giving guidance on physical exercise, diet and nutrition, wellbeing, health ageing.

On the opposite spectrum would be illness, medical and medicine focused, hospitalisation, etc focusing on the symptoms rather than the cause e.g. diabetes and controlling blood sugar levels rather than diet modification.

Portrait of Chiropractor Gillian Tsang of Back and Bodyworks
Chiropractor and founder of Back and Bodyworks, Gillian Tsang
Gillian looking at X-rays of spine

Can you speak a little bit about the history of the practice, where it came from, how it evolved to where it is today?

Chiropractic as a profession has been around for 120 years but the principles of which chiropractic care is based are not new. Ancient Greeks and early civilisation cited spinal adjustments as a form of healthcare. Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine stated that ‘physical structure is the basis of medicine’ and went into great detail into concerning the importance of the spine to good health.

What does a chiropractor do, in a nutshell, and who or what benefits from seeing a chiropractor, and why should someone consider seeing a chiropractor for their ailments?

Chiropractors are highly trained and professionals in the field of musculoskeletal health, are primary healthcare providers and are regulated by law. All chiropractors undergo 4+years education and are trained in the spectrum of musculoskeletal disorders and trained to diagnose these conditions along with reading and analysing investigations like x-rays and MRI’s.

Another emphasis is in the way chiropractors treat. We are a profession that is dedicated to the training of manual therapy, distinctly the adjustment.

The adjustment is a manual technique characterised by high velocity and low amplitude (technique is focused on speed and specificity, rather than force) and this is what makes chiropractors so unique.

Chiropractors are specifically trained to diagnosis and treat conditions that are suitable and are equally trained in scenarios when someone is not suited and will refer to other doctors if further investigation is needed.

The physical body and its normal function and movement is integrated with the brain. Apart from physical ailments, which cause pain and discomfort, and affect quality of life, there are neurophysiological effects in how it affects the brain’s function, perception and co-ordination. This can reflect as mood changes, motor disturbances such as poor co-ordination/clumsiness (due to poor activation or firing of muscle groups, brain cannot sense a part of the body) and sensory disturbances (perception of normal touch, altered sensations, increased sensation of pain). Healthcare professionals have used top down tools such: as education, cognitive-behavioural therapy, mindfulness and meditation and there are bottom-up physical interventions like sensory stimulation and manual therapy. Chiropractic falls into this category, adjustments turn off the signal of pain in the brain and improve the integration of cortical processes and the communication of the brain between the body and the environment and its response. For the brain, it’s like rebooting a computer.

Chiropractor Gillian working on male patient’s lower back

What can someone expect from their first visit to a chiropractor?

In an initial chiropractic consultation, our chiropractor will go into detail about your current complaint along with your medical history and any previous injuries or traumas.

Then begins the assessment of the spine’s alignment, posture, mobility and flexibility, along with special tests for tendon or ligament strains and nerve testing. If any further investigation is required to aid in your diagnosis and case, our chiropractor will inform you.

Afterwards our chiropractor will discuss the findings and talk you through the treatment options, before beginning the treatment.

Is there anything that you, as a chiropractor, would advise to people in order to maximise their healing through a course of treatment with you?

We recommend staying active, getting a walk 10-15 mins immediately after their session. We would advise people to get enough sleep, perhaps sleeping earlier and setting the right environment for sleep.

Can you talk a little bit about what drew you to becoming a chiropractor?

Since I was a kid, my dad had been seeing a chiropractor! He suffered from bad back pain, to the point where he was bent and unable to stand straight for months. After seeing an old high-school friend in Canada who was a chiropractor, he experienced dramatic improvements within the first few sessions. That definitely had an influence on me.

As my training and practice grew, I noticed that many of my patients doing wellness care, for years in fact – that is, checking in consistently, taking a preventative and proactive approach. What keeps me going is seeing my patients through different milestones in their lives, and being a part of their journey in health. I love taking care of them and being part of their team!

Back and Bodyworks clinic and waiting area, inspired by nature and the forest with warm wooden features
The Back and Bodyworks clinic is inspired by nature and the forest to instil calmness and grounding

Can you tell us a little bit about your own practice, and what informs your approach to your clients, their bodies and their healing?

I’ve been in practice for 10 years, starting at a grassroots family practice, seeing patients through from their teens, all the way to elderly. As my practice evolved, as has the understanding of the body, physical and labourous strains and injuries are being replaced with mental/cognitive strain and stress. I’ve often found that people with poor sleep, high stress loads have poorer recovery.

"I wanted to elevate healthcare for my existing clients by integrating chiropractic and other effective therapies that could provide relief and long-term success, thus building a full spectrum of care in the process. As a result, Back and Bodyworks was born!"

Visit the Back and Bodyworks website to book a session or follow their IG to learn more about Gillian and her practice.