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Can Naturopathic Doctors Do Adjustments?

Dr. David Hatton

First, let's start by answering the question. Yes, ND's can do adjustments. To pass the BC licensing exam, naturopathic doctors must be proficient in all adjustments, including both spinal and extremity manipulation. The classroom hours required for these manipulations, not including any anatomy classes, physical medicine classes, clinic hours, or extra training, is over three hundred. That's three hundred hours learning, practicing and refining the techniques alone. Now, why would a naturopathic doctor need to do an adjustment? Joints are what allow the body to move with fluidity and free of pain. The way they are designed is to move freely, without catching or snagging on muscles or other bones. With the active lifestyle many of us live, our bodies are put through stressful scenarios causing muscles fatigue, hypertonicity, ligament laxity and every so often this can lead to a slight misalignment. There is no specific movement or event that will trigger bones to shift but it doesn't cause permanent damage. Misalignments do however, cause pain and discomfort at the affected area. Being able to do adjustments allows ND's to treat the cause right away in order to realign bones and reduce pain. Where ND's really stand out is the extra treatment options that they have at their disposal. For example, acupuncture is used to relax muscles that are tight which can pull bones out of place. Cupping is used to lift fascia off muscles, allowing the muscles to shift back into their proper place and move more freely. For ligaments and tendons that have been damaged, prolotherapy can be used to tighten and heal tissue allowing better strength and durability of the ligaments and tendons.

There are many conditions that can be helped with a simple adjustment, if the problem is structurally based. Headaches are a common complaint that can be caused by a misalignment of the spine and tightening of the suboccipital muscles. Because naturopathic doctors have been trained in manipulations, they have the ability to diagnose, adjust, and further treat these conditions within the same visit. However, not all naturopathic doctors choose to do adjustments and would rather refer to a chiropractor. This is increasingly common in multidisciplinary clinics where ND's and chiropractors work together, especially if the ND does not focus on sports medicine or pain management. Either way, when adjustments and further treatment are done together, the long term results can be amazing.

As always, this post is not designed to diagnose or treat, but instead give you something to think about. If you have any questions about adjustments and the other treatments naturopathic doctors use, book in with one of our pain management doctors (Dr. Hatton and Dr. Hennigar) for a free 15 minute consult.

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