Frequently Asked Questions 

Will my doctor approve?

Increasingly, GPs are recognising chiropractic as an effective treatment.

A Medical Research Council clinical trial and its follow-up, reported in the British Medical Journal in 1990 and 1995, found that chiropractic treatment of back pain was more effective than hospital outpatient treatment. The European Commission Acute Low Back Pain Guidelines includes manipulation as an effective treatment for low back pain.

You do not need a referral from your GP to visit a Chiropractor.

Can I get treatment on the NHS?

Some GPs are able to purchase chiropractic treatment for their patients on the NHS. Many health insurance companies will now pay for chiropractic treatment. Some insurance companies require a GP referral before they will cover treatment.

What happens during a consultation?

Your practitioner will begin your first consultation by taking a full case history. You will be given standard orthopaedic and neurological tests and the movement of your spine and/or joints will be checked.

If your practitioner identifies an underlying condition for which other treatment is appropriate, you will be referred to your GP or another specialist without delay. Chiropractic can, however, be very helpful in providing additional relief even for conditions such as these.

As well as using manipulation, your practitioner may use acupuncture as well as other techniques, having explained exactly how they work. Chiropractors do not prescribe drugs or use surgical procedures.

How long will it take to get better?

Your recovery is dependent on many factors - the problem, the length of time you have had it and your own commitment to any rehabilitative exercises and maintenance visits which your practitioner may recommend.

For whom is treatment suitable?

Chiropractic is suitable for everyone, including newborn babies, the elderly, pregnant women and sports enthusiasts. Once you are better, your practitioner will help you to maintain your own health, and keep your body working as it should, by offering exercise and lifestyle advice for you to follow in the future.

What is the popping noise of the adjustment?

When the two surfaces of a joint are gently mobilised, as happens in a chiropractic adjustment, there is a change of pressure within the joint space. This may sometimes cause a bubble of gas to 'pop' - but this sound is not significant, and does not hurt.

Have I got a "trapped nerve" or "slipped disc"?

These are common, general terms used to describe a multitude of conditions. Your chiropractor will make a more specific diagnosis and explain your condition to you.

Will treatment hurt?

Manipulation, when carried out correctly by a qualified practitioner, is not painful. If you have acute muscle spasm, when even the lightest touch hurts, there may be some discomfort. Sometimes, if you have had a problem for some time, you may feel sore whilst your body starts to adjust. Your practitioner will tell you if this is likely to happen.

Are all patients adjusted in the same way?

No. Your treatment programme will be tailored to your specific needs.

Should I bring my family for check - ups?

Yes. The strength of chiropractic is that it can help prevent discomfort, pain and even disease, and is suitable for everyone. It is entirely appropriate to visit a chiropractor even if you have no pain, as restrictions in movement can often be detected before symptoms appear.

What is the difference between chiropractic and osteopathy?

There are differences in technique and approach, as well as some similarities. The important factor is that the practitioner is well-qualified. Both professions now have statutory regulation.

Is chiropractic treatment safe, even if I've already had surgery?

Chiropractic is remarkably safe when carried out by a suitably qualified practitioner. In fact a number of studies have shown that Chiropractic treatment is significantly safer than common alternatives such as long term use of pain killers, anti-inflammatory medication or surgery.

Why should I return if I'm feeling fine?

Your practitioner has treated you, so allowing your body to heal, but if you continue the lifestyle which caused the original condition, regular treatment should also continue in order to maintain your spinal health. 

Can I adjust myself? Is there anything wrong with me 'cracking ' my neck or back myself?

You cannot properly control an adjustment to yourself and your relief may only be temporary. If you feel you want to 'crack' your joints, it is because you need an adjustment. Consult your chiropractor!

Is there scientific proof that chiropractic works?

Particularly for low back pain, yes. The Clinical Standards Advisory Group recommended in 1994 that there should be earlier access to the manipulative therapies and a redistribution of resources within the NHS to make this happen. In September 1996 the Royal College of General Practitioners issued guidelines for GPs which recommend manipulative treatment within the first six weeks for patients with low back pain. They also state that the risks of manipulation are very low in skilled hands.


Nilsson N, Christensen HW, Hartvigsen J, The Effect of Spinal Manipulation in the Treatment of Cervicogenic Headache, J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1997; 20:326-330
Verhoef MJ, Page SA, Waddell SC, The Chiropractic Outcome Study: Pain, Functional Ability and Satisfaction with Care, J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1997, 20(4):235-240