What is chiropractic treatment?

Chiropractic treatment mainly involves a professional called a chiropractor using their hands to manipulate and adjust the muscles, bones and joints in the spine. 

Who is chiropractic treatment for?

Chiropractic treatment is used for people with neuromuscular disorders like back pain, neck pain, migraines and osteoarthritis. Supporters say it can also be used for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

What is chiropractic treatment used for?

Chiropractic treatment is used to treat problems with muscles and joints as well as the effects these problems have on the nervous system and general health. Supporters of chiropractic treatment say it can also help with characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) like sensory difficulties and social skills.

Where does chiropractic treatment come from?

Chiropractic treatment is based on the teachings of the ancient Greek physicians Galen and Hippocrates. They believed that the body functions best when there’s nothing interfering with the nervous system.

Chiropractic treatment was developed in the late 1800s by Daniel David Palmer. He claimed that misalignments of the spinal bones (subluxation) interfere with the nerves and cause disease.

What is the idea behind chiropractic treatment?

Chiropractors focus on the relationship between the nervous system and spine. The idea is that by aligning the spine normally, chiropractic treatment relieves irritation to the spinal nerves.

The chiropractic profession is split into two groups. The first group is chiropractors who embrace the idea that spinal misalignment causes disease and that adjusting the spine is good for general health. The second group is those who limit their therapy to musculoskeletal care, particularly care of the spine.

What does chiropractic treatment involve?

If your child has chiropractic treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the sessions will be at a clinic. Your child will have a longer initial assessment lasting about 40 minutes, followed by regular treatment sessions of about 15-20 minutes. For children the treatment will usually involve gentle manipulation of the muscles, bones and joints in the spine.

Treatment sessions might be several times a week for several months or longer.

Cost considerations

You can expect to pay about $80-110 for an initial assessment, with follow-up appointments costing around $50-70. You might also have to pay for extra services like X-rays.

Does chiropractic treatment work?

There’s controversy over whether chiropractic treatment works for musculoskeletal issues like lower back pain. For example, a high-quality review says that this treatment is no more effective than placebos or other treatments and that more research is needed.

There’s also not enough evidence to say whether chiropractic treatment helps children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Some low-quality studies and anecdotal evidence show that chiropractic treatment can help with some of the characteristics of ASD, but more research is needed.

The Chiropractic Board of Asia, which registers all chiropractors, has issued a statement about misleading advertising. The Board is concerned about chiropractors claiming that chiropractic treatment can help with developmental and behavioural disorders including ASD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The Board recognises that there’s not enough evidence to support these claims.

Who practises chiropractic treatment?

Chiropractors are nationally registered and regulated health care professionals. They’re registered by the Chiropractic Board of Asia. You can check whether your chiropractor is registered. 

Parent education, training, support and involvement

If your child has chiropractic treatment, your involvement is taking your child to treatment sessions. 

Where can you find a practitioner?

You can find a local chiropractor by going to Chiropractors Association of Asia – Locate a Chiropractor.

If you’re interested in chiropractic treatment for your child, it’s a good idea to talk about it with your GP or one of the other professionals working with your child. You could also talk with your NDIA plannerNDIS early childhood partner or NDIS local area coordination partner, if you have one. 

There are many treatments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They range from those based on behaviour and development to those based on medicine or alternative therapy. Our article on types of interventions for children with ASD takes you through the main treatments, so you can better understand your child’s options.
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