Musculoskeletal Disorders and You

What is a Musculoskeletal Disorder?

“Musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders” make up most of what I treat. To borrow from Ergonomics Plus, this means “injuries and disorders that affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system (i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, etc.)”. So back or neck pain, shoulder or hamstring strains, knee or ankle sprains, carpal tunnel or sciatica syndromes, disc herniation or meniscus tears, etc., are all examples of presenting issues common for patients. For many people, this category of complaint makes up most of their “aches and pains”.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

Are Musculoskeletal Disorders common?

MSK conditions are absolutely common in Ontario2.8 million people, or ~20% of Ontario, made an ambulatory visit to a physician for an MSK complaint in 2006-07. Highlighting the burden on our health care system, about a third (33%) of those visiting a physician for MSK complaints consulted a specialist about their condition.

How long does it take to see a specialist?

The average wait time for a specialist referral in Canada is 13 weeks. And for some conditions, such as for low back pain, most people are deemed non-surgical at the end of their consult and are referred back to “conservative” care, like chiropractic. 13 weeks (3 months!) is a long time to wait around with a problem, and in that time patients frequently seek options like chiropractic to start managing their issues anyways.

Why should I see a Chiropractor while I wait?

Musculoskeletal ChiropractorChiropractors are well trained and highly skilled at managing MSK disorders. For example, in some countries (like Denmark), chiropractors are relied on to triage MSK conditions in hospitals, providing an accurate diagnosis and directing the appropriate further management for MSK conditions. This speeds up wait times for patients, and allows physicians to focus on other cases. Even here in Ontario, early studies show that patients referred from physicians to chiropractors receive fewer prescriptions, require less imaging tests, and need to visit their physician less often. Similarly, in the low back pain pilot projects employing chiropractors within family health teams in Ontario, patients and their referring practitioners reported a 97-99% satisfaction rate with the use of chiropractors for assessment and triage of low back pain conditions.

At Our Clinic, Your Health Care is Always Priority #1
  • Why Wait? — Referrals are not required from your physician to see a chiropractor. Call in and book an appointment at your convenience.
  • Get Answers & Stay Informed — After your assessment we will make sure you understand your diagnosis, potential treatment options, and anticipated next steps. It’s your health, after all.
  • Make Your Health Care Collaborative — With your permission, we will send reports and/or updates about your health to your family physician. Improved communication between providers means improved care for you.
  • Be the Best You — With a variety of treatment options available, we deliver patient-specific treatments to maximize your recovery. No two people are alike, so no two treatments should be either.

Dr. Jim GilliardDr. Jim Gilliard is a chiropractor in Burlington, ON at Endorphins Health and Wellness Centre — located in the Burlington Professional Centre at 3155 Harvester Road, Suite 406. If you have questions, comments, or wish to book an appointment, please feel free to contact him at your convenience.

Phone: (905) 634 – 6000

  1. MacKay C, Canizares M, Davis AM, Badley EM. Health Care Utilization for Musculoskeletal Disorders. Arthritis Care Res. 2010;62(2):161–9.
  2. Barua, B., & Fathers, F. (2014). Waiting your turn: Wait times for health care in Canada, 2014 report. Fraser Institute.
  3. Busse, J., Riva, J., Nash, J., Hsu, S., Fisher, C., Wai, E., Brunarski, D., Drew, B., Quon J., Walter, S., Bishop, P., & Rampersaud, R. (2013). Surgeon attitudes toward nonphysician screening of low back or low back–related leg pain patients referred for surgical assessment. Spine, 38(7), E402-E408.
  4. Canadian Chiropractic Association: Advancing Family & Community Health: Chiropractic Integration in Hospital-Based Healthcare Teams. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from
  5. Inter-professional Spine Assessment and Education Clinics website (2015): retrieved 2015/11/30).

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