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What is chiropractic?

Qualified doctors of chiropractic such as Ashley Wells specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of health problems associated with the joints, ligaments, tendons, and nerves - especially related to the spine.

Pain and other health problems can often occur when an area of a joint has altered position and is putting pressure on the nerves. Chiropractors are able to pinpoint these areas - known as subluxations - and then treat them by making subtle adjustments with their hands. Each adjustment, or 'manipulation', takes unwanted pressure off the nerves and frees up the joints, allowing the body to mover more easily and, invariably, with no pain.

Manipulation is a skilled process, but it is also a natural one. It takes up to 7 years to qualify and register with the General Chiropractic Council. Each manipulation allows the body's own instinctive healing process to kick in, so that even long-term damage to the joints and nervous system can repair over time with a chiropractor's professional helping hand.

Chiropractic treatment works at a deeper level than simply alleviating pain. By treating specific joints in the neck and spine, the chiropractor also attempts to find the cause of the problem. A programme of gentle manipulation can, in fact, eliminate the problem; unlike pain killers which work by 'masking' the pain rather than treating whatever is causing it. This is what chiropractors mean when they talk about 'treating the cause and not just the symptoms'.

Take chronic leg pain as an example. Painkillers and rest may ease the pain in the short-term, but it may well be that the pain is coming from a problem - or subluxation - in another part of the body, such as the back. A joint in the lower back may be out of place and pressing on the nerves connecting the brain with the leg. A chiropractor will identify the precise joint that is misaligned and by manipulating that exact point, can alleviate pain, hopefully for the long term.

Other techniques: As well as manipulation, chiropractors use a range of techniques including ice, heat, ultrasound, massage, and exercises specific to your condition and advise on correct posture, healthy eating and other lifestyle issues.

Treatment is very safe: Because chiropractic treatment is so safe and drug-free, manipulation can be carried out on people of all ages, from small infants through to the very elderly.

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