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There is statutory regulation of chiropractic in the UK.
Statutory regulation of chiropractic works in the same way as regulation for conventional medical doctors.
This means it is illegal to practise as a chiropractor or call yourself a chiropractor unless you are registered with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC).
The GCC only accepts registration from practitioners who have certain qualifications in chiropractic and who agree to comply with its code of practice (see below).
Regulation aims to protect patient safety, by setting and monitoring standards of training, practice and conduct. This doesn't mean there is scientific evidence that the treatment provided is effective, however.
Chiropractors in the UK must adhere to standards of practice laid down by the GCC. If you use a chiropractor and they do not adhere to this standard of practice, you can complain to the GCC, which has a duty to investigate the complaint.
Never use an unregistered practitioner.
The GCC has developed a Code of Practice which says that treatment provided by chiropractors should:
Around 50% of patients report experiencing adverse effects after spinal manipulation. The most commonly reported adverse effects are:
These effects are usually minor or moderate, develop within four hours of a session and typically resolve themselves within one or two days.
Serious complications that have been linked to spinal manipulation include:
These events usually occurred after spinal manipulation involving the neck. Some may have occurred due to a pre-existing health condition, and not the spinal manipulation itself.Â
These more serious complications of spinal manipulation are probably rare. Estimates of the rates of serious complications range widely, from one in tens of thousands to one in millions of treatments.
The use of manual treatments as practised by chiropractors is not recommended in cases where there is an increased risk of damage to the spine or other bones, or the nerves.
This means that people with certain health conditions may not be able to have chiropractic. They include people with:
In some cases, where manipulation of bones, joints and soft tissue is not recommended, a chiropractor may be able to offer other treatments, along with diet, exercise and lifestyle advice.
If you have any of these health conditions, or you are unsure whether chiropractic is safe for you, speak to your GP first.
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