Estonian Chiropractic Medicine
Chiropractic Medicine is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. Chiropractic care is used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches. Doctors of Chiropractic Medicine are often simply referred to as “chiropractors” or “chiropractic physicians”. In Estonia they hold the international designation of “D.C.” which has been acquired through their graduation from an internationally accredited chiropractic university faculty or college. Minimum educational standards for chiropractic licensure follow the European Chiropractic Union guidelines and are in accordance with the World Federation of Chiropractic and the World Health Organization as well as the originating North American Council of Chiropractic Education standards. Estonian Chiropractic Physicians mainly practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. They have full medical diagnostic skills and are also trained to provide physio-therapeutic modalities as well as prescriptive therapeutics and rehabilitative exercises. Estonian Chiropractors may also provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling and may prescribe nutraceutical prescriptions in the forms of drug-free naturopathic, homeopathic and supplementative substances which do not require a medical doctors prescription. In some cases, they may also practice forms of Traditional Chinese or Eastern medicines such as acupuncture and/or varied naturopathic medicine practices.
The most common therapeutic procedure performed by Doctors of Chiropractic is known as “osseous manipulation,” also sometimes called “chiropractic adjustment.” The purpose of manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypomobile – or restricted in their movement – as a result of an injury or stress. Osseous manipulations are performed on all joints of the body however they are performed most commonly on the joints of the spine. Joint manipulations are normally performed using the hands or with specific instruments designed for this purpose, usually with the patient fully conscious and without medication. Similar to the practice of some specially trained and licensed chiropractic doctors in the USA, for certain extremity conditions such as “adhesive capsulitis” frozen shoulder, complex operative manipulations may be performed under general anesthesia “MUA” or in conjunction with the application of local anesthesia and other facilitative medications, provided by a qualified medical specialist, prior to the non-surgical manipulative procedures. Estonian Chiropractors may also provide static, active and/or interactive tissue manipulations wherein muscles and specific soft tissues are manipulated, with specific techniques or treatment methods, to alter consistency or neurological movement control.
Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In either case, injured or stressed tissues and their associated joints undergo physical, chemical and neurological changes that can cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function for the sufferer. Manipulation, or adjustment of the affected joint and tissues, restores joint mobility and function alleviating pain and improving function which subsequently allows tissues to heal.
Manipulations performed by Chiropractors rarely cause discomfort, however, patients may sometimes experience mild soreness or aching following treatment (as with some forms of exercise) that usually resolves within 12 to 48 hours. Research shows that, in most cases of lower back pain, chiropractic manipulations are the primary and most effective method of treatment. This finding also applies to many other pain conditions which are due to injury and/or dysfunction of the joints and muscles. When other medical conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition. Currently, there is a process in Estonia to have the titles, Doctor of Chiropractic”, ‘Chiropractor’ and “Chiropractic Physician” fully protected by government legislation so that only qualified Chiropractic Doctors who have graduated from accredited institutions of higher learning are legally allowed to use these titles. In order to ensure quality and safety for the public, Chiropractic members of ECDA must be enrolled or have graduated from an ECU / WFC accredited Chiropractic College or University Faculty of Chiropractic which meets strict requirements. Doctors of Chiropractic in Estonia, who are members of ECDA are also requested to attend at least 12 hours of continued yearly professional education courses in order to keep their knowledge base current and to maintain an active license to practice. Discussions are underway though the ECDA to make this a mandatory requirement set by the Estonian government.
Doctors of Chiropractic differentially diagnose patients through clinical examination, laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging and other diagnostic interventions to determine when chiropractic treatment is appropriate or when referral to another medical specialist is required. Chiropractic physicians will always refer patients to the appropriate medical or health care provider when chiropractic care is not suitable for the patient’s condition, or the condition warrants co-management in conjunction with other members of the Estonian health care system. Estonian Chiropractic Physicians work closely with Estonian medical physicians who cross-refer and with whom they enjoy excellent co-operation and inter-professional relations. Successful presentations have been held twice per year by the EDCA for medical doctors interested in learning about how chiropractic care can assist them in the recovery process of their patients with musculoskeletal conditions.