This little-known manual medicine helps people gain mobility at an age when muscles melt, bones wear down and joints become painful. It is centered on the spine (sometimes qualified as a “tree of life” by its therapists): the chiropractor reasons from the nervous system towards the periphery. By correcting dysfunctions of the spine, it can treat functional disorders. For example, ankle pain can be the result of a lower back problem.
This discipline is little known in our country, no doubt because the number of chiropractors remains marginal (less than 1,000 practitioners). It must be said that the training, standardized on an international scale – all therapists therefore follow the same course and can work abroad without difficulty – is long and extensive: six years of full-time studies. In France, the discipline is recognized by the public health code and reimbursed by most complementary health insurance (count between 40 and 60 euros in the provinces, 60 to 80 euros in Paris). Check with your mutual.
From back pain to osteoarthritis
The chiropractor can detect, correct and prevent different forms of back pain (low back pain, sciatica, spinal pain, etc.). His manipulations aim to free the nervous system from the tensions and traumas accumulated over the years. The therapist also provides preventive advice for adopting good postures on a daily basis, whether for sleeping, for gardening, for reading … He gives simple exercises, such as stretching, to be performed at home, every day.
In seniors, the goal of chiropractic is also to help regain mobility, strength and range of motion (including if you wear a hip prosthesis). But also to unlock the joints: if it does not eliminate osteoarthritis, it at least relieves its painful manifestations.
The chiropractor can also solve sleep problems and thus reduce the intake of sleeping pills, too often used by this population. To do this, he looks for tension (often in the neck) and teaches breathing techniques.
The consultation in brief
It usually begins with a complete questionnaire, which gives an account of our history: history, lifestyle (sleep, consumption of coffee, tobacco, etc.), medication taken (some weaken the bone structure), type of pain and location, etc. Remember to bring back your possible x-rays and bone densitometry (measurement of bone capital), because chiropractors are able to read these images. A physical exam follows, which aims to test reflexes, limb amplitudes, and check the spine. All of these elements make it possible to define the needs and the number of sessions according to the patient.
The techniques used
The chiropractor has many techniques that he adapts according to each: postures of tensioning, pressures, manipulations that make you crack (but not always!), Breathing techniques, massages … He is also authorized to use small equipment, such as an activator. This small object causes a light and rapid impulse on the joint or the muscle and allows to release the tension without forcing (by a mechanical action). It is used in fragile people (who suffer from a herniated disc or osteoporosis for example) or in those who are afraid of the famous manipulations that make you “crack”.
Good to know : chiropractors are the only non-medical therapists authorized to perform spinal manipulations (including cervical) without prior medical advice.
Thanks to Audrey Yargui, chiropractor in Suresnes (Hauts-de-Seine).