From supporting our weight, holding us upright, and playing an integral role in our movements, our spine serves a number of purposes. Arguably the most important function of the spine is protecting the spinal cord and the nerves which branch out to other parts of the body. To be truly healthy, we must have a fully functioning spine and nervous system throughout our entire lifetime.
Located on Merchants Road in Galway city, Galway City Chiropractic provides friendly, expert, advice and service on spinal care. The practice was opened and owned by Sean Toner in 2000 before Branch Healthcare Ltd took over the reins in 2014 adding to the Bradley Clinic practices in Carrick-on-Shannon and Longford town. Currently Branch Healthcare Ltd is one of the biggest chiropractic branches in the country and is a member of the Chiropractic Association of Ireland.
Clinical director of Branch Healthcare Ltd and chiropractor Paul Bradley sat down with the Galway Advertiser to talk about the ins and outs of spinal care and why regular check-ups can have major benefits for an individual's posture, movement, and quality of life.
What inspired you to become a chiropractor?
Paul - I have been receiving chiropractic care since the age of 12 because I used to run internationally as a junior competing for Ireland and Northern Ireland. I have always found chiropractic beneficial for myself, not only for symptomatic pain and injuries from competing but also from a health perspective. Attending chiropractic sessions regularly enabled me to be able to be fit and healthy throughout the training year.
What is chiropractic?
Paul - Chiropractic focuses on the nerves, muscles, and joints of the body. Many people think chiropractic is just based around spinal care however it deals with multiple types of complaints such as wrist pain, elbow pain, ankle pain, and sports injuries. One of its primary objectives is the care of the spine because the spine is effectively classed as the pathway between the brain and the rest of the body because your brain and spinal cord are connected. Nerves branch out from the spinal cord, which are linked to every part of the body and they help us move. Chiropractic care adjusts joints into the correct position which allows no pressure on spinal nerves or nerves around the body.
Why is spinal care so important?
Paul - It is very typical for people to come into us with pain and aches because the original problem may be from the spine which can cause referred pain going down their arm or leg, or even in some cases, if the spinal joint is out of position it can cause secondary symptoms, so for example if some of the nerves that supply the bowel and bladder are affected, people may experience stomach pains or IBS symptoms. At Galway City Chiropractic we are trained to assess and figure out what is the problem and from where it is originating. We do ongoing training throughout the year to make sure skills are up to the latest standards and that patients are receiving the optimum in care, and because we are a member of the Chiropractic Association of Ireland all our chiropractors hold a minimum of a four year degree either a Bachelor of Science (Honours ) or as a Master's degree. We are also covered by all major healthcare insurance companies due to our membership with the association. Non-members cannot be covered by private healthcare insurers.
Do you have to be of a certain age to receive chiropractic care?
Paul - Anyone of any age can undergo chiropractic care. We treat children from only a couple of weeks old to seniors. Parents will come to us with new born babies just to have their spines checked because the birth may have been traumatic or the child may have infantile colic, so we will treat both the mother and the child. We will use different chiropractic techniques depending on the patient's age, so we will use lighter chiropractic adjustments on babies and seniors to make it 100 per cent safe and effective for the patient that comes into our practice. We also treat pregnant women as well because the mechanics of the body will change when a woman is pregnant because the spine's shape will change.
If you have nerve or joint issues, is it important to see a chiropractor quickly?
Paul - We would advise if you do start to experience any sort symptoms, that you have it assessed as soon as possible. Once you have been assessed you can then get it diagnosed which means you can get treatment as soon as possible. Usually if the problem is assessed, diagnosed, and treatment begins as soon as possible, symptoms can be remedied quicker, depending on why and how it happened. A complaint left unchecked can result in the patient taking longer to respond positively to treatment and impact the end result.
What happens at a consultation at Galway City Chiropractic?
Paul - The patient will come in to Galway City Chiropractic and the front desk staff will ask them to complete a new patient form. We will then undertake a full body examination so the chiropractor will bring the patient into the room, take a full case history of the complaint, ask what has happened, how it happened, and what symptoms they are experiencing. We check to see if they are on any medications, had any previous X-rays taken, if they have any other medical complaints, for example a senior patient may have osteoporosis.
Then the patient will be asked to lie down on the bench and the chiropractor will do a thorough examination so reflexes, sensation, and muscle tone will be tested. After this all the joints through the spine and in the area that is affected will be examined and we will check the muscle groups to narrow down from where the complaint is coming. After the examination is concluded we will go through a report of findings and advise the patient of what treatment and care will best suit them to either resolve the complaint or best manage the complaint on an ongoing basis through treatment and exercise.
When does the first treatment begin?
Paul - Normally treatment will be administered on the first day if we are able to. If a patient does come to us with symptoms that need an MRI scan such as a patient with a fracture, we will not administer treatment that day and we will refer them on. But we will always do our best to alleviate some symptoms that the patient is experiencing even in a case with a fracture the chiropractor will do some soft tissue work or even applying an ice-pack to give the patient some comfort.
How does a patient prepare for treatment sessions?
Paul - We ask our patients to come in wearing loose clothing. After the first session, our chiropractors will provide the patient with information about ice-packs, heat-packs, and any stretching exercises that may be beneficial for them as well.
How much treatment is needed?
Paul - Treatment plans vary from case to case. We may have a patient who has just injured themselves and may respond very quickly to treatment, to other patients who have had an issue for 20 years and never had it assessed so their response may be slower. We set realistic goals for our patients, setting out a treatment plan that will help them achieve those goals. Our goal is to achieve the best result for our patients, be it the eradication of pain symptoms altogether or the successful managing of an issue. We also have patients who come to us for spinal and joint care even though they have no issues. This is to keep their spines as healthy as possible.
How often should a person get a spinal check-up?
Paul - It depends on a person's lifestyle, but at Galway City Chiropractic we advise people to get a spinal check-up at least twice a year, so every six months. Much like our teeth, we use our spines every day but more regularly, so ideally people would have a check-up more than two times a year. We visit our dentists to make sure that we have no decay or wear and tear and the same should apply for spinal check-ups as they may reveal any wear or tear on our spine.
Does chiropractic hurt?
Paul - Chiropractic adjustments are generally pain free but the pain from the session is based on the patient's condition. If a patient is very inflamed they may feel tender and stiff, especially if they have never been treated before. However the majority, approximately 95 per cent of patients, do not feel any negative symptoms after a first treatment. We advise patients if they experience worse pain after a session to contact the clinic.
Does Galway City Chiropractic host information days?
Paul - We provide external health talks, open days, and examinations for corporate and local groups. Next Monday we will be holding an event in SnapFitness where we will be providing functional screenings and postural checks and all members of SnapFitness will be given complimentary consultations as well as discounts when they come to our practice. On June 25 to 29, we will be having our summer open week which allows people to come in and get a complimentary consultation, discuss any complaint they might have, or to discuss spinal care or chiropractic with one of our chiropractors. Some people may start care after this consultation but there is no obligation to begin care with us. This week is our way to give back to the local community who support us all year round.
Top tips on a healthy spinal care.
Paul - The importance of maintaining a healthy spine includes regular exercise, a good diet, regular spinal check-ups, and constantly practising good posture, be it sitting, standing, or sleeping.