Chiropractic Awareness Week 2022 – Interview with Clinical Tutor and Chiropractor, Joy Harrison

Clinical Tutor and Chiropractor, Joy Harrison is a former AECC University College Chiropractic student and now she works within our Chiropractic Clinic, having joined us last September.

To mark Chiropractic Awareness Week, an annual event hosted by the British Chiropractic Association, we spoke to Joy about why she chose to become a Chiropractor and what she finds most rewarding about the job. She also provides helpful advice and guidance on how people can stay pain-free and mobile for longer by keeping active.

What made you want to work at AECC University College?

I studied at AECC University College, starting in 2014 and qualified in 2019. I was out in practice for three years, working privately within a couple of different clinics. I came back to AECC University College to do a few days of work and really enjoyed the education side and helping students. So, I’m delighted to say I was able to join the team full time earlier this year.

What was it about Chiropractic work that drew you to the career?

I've always been interested in health care, and when I was a bit younger, I came across Chiropractic work as a profession. It was something that really spoke to me because I was able to have a bit more of a work/life balance and I enjoyed the practical side and the hands-on skill. But the main reason for me was that I just wanted to help people, it’s always what I've wanted to do. It’s a really satisfying job, being able to help someone who is in pain or struggling and get them back to health.

What do you enjoy most about being a Chiropractor?

Well, number one has to be being able to make a difference to people, and then there’s the lovely patient facing side of the job and the relationship you get to build up with people - I find that is a really nice aspect of what I do.

One thing we hear a lot from patients is that they appreciate how much time they get to spend with the staff and students here, really being helped and listened to. Would you agree?

 Yes, absolutely. It’s the nature of what we do. and we tend to see people for repeat visits, depending on the nature of the issue. So, it's a really nice way to build up that relationship if you're seeing people for weeks or months at a time. That's really nice.

Are there any standout experiences that have been especially rewarding to you?

 I think the most rewarding thing for me is if a patient is coming into me, and for example, they're not able to do an activity that they've always loved doing, like a sport or a hobby, and I'm able to help return them to doing that particular thing. I think that's probably the most rewarding thing to see them going sometimes from almost rock bottom to pretty much exactly how they were living life before. So that's, probably one of the biggest rewards.

What are the most common complaints you deal with?

The biggest complaint I deal with is lower back issues. Sciatic type of pain is quite common, as are neck pain and shoulder injuries.

In the majority of cases the injury tends to build up over time. We also deal with sporting injuries, or injuries when someone’s had an accident or fall as well.

What advice would you give to someone worried about an injury or ache?

My advice would be, don't leave it. Don't let it fester or let it get worse. If you're aware that there's an issue, get it seen to as soon as you can.

How can people look after themselves at home in their daily lives to stay healthy? 

Keep active – try and just keep your body moving as much as you can.

Are there any myths you’d like to bust or anything you’d like to explain to someone reading this?

I guess I would like to include a bit about what chiropractors actually do, because I think a lot of people, aren't really aware of what we do or what we can help with. We can help with all sorts of musculoskeletal complaints - whether that's a spinal complaint, or wrist pain, or knee pain, or any extremity complaint, we can help. We can assess it, diagnose it, and potentially treat those issues as well.

Do you tend to find that people will come in for one complaint, but there might be other issues that you can help them with?

Absolutely. Most of the time, it's usually more than one thing going on that will cause a problem. Everything is linked in the body. So that’s why our 90-minute consultation is so important, because we can do a full assessment and then create a treatment plan for the person as a whole. Someone might come in with knee pain from running, but actually the issue is to do with the ankle or hips, and the knee is just where the pain shows up. So, it’s important not to look at these things in isolation.

Can you explain to the readers what they get from a consultation appointment and how you would then work with them to assess and diagnose the issue?

Yes, so it depends completely on the area of the body we're looking at or what the complaint is. Initially we will start the consultation by doing some history taking, finding out about the person, and what the issue is - we will go into their background and their past medical history and have a bit of a discussion. And then we'll move on to having a look at things – with a physical exam. Looking at how, for example, a joint moves and seeing if it’s working as it should or if there’s pain.

For an assessment I would do some form of orthopaedic and neurological testing, and some movement control, some strength testing, and so really trying to get to the bottom of the issue. And at the end of this session, I will feedback my findings to the patient. I will explain what I've found during that session and what I think is going on, and whether or not they could be a candidate for treatment. I’d then explain what the treatment would be and how long they would need it for. If I am unable to help the individual and their condition, I will refer them to another relevant health professional.

Does the length of treatment vary from person to person? How long would you normally need to see them for?

It completely depends. It depends on how chronic it is and the frequency or intensity of the issue. So, for example, if somebody had come in to see me with a headache from musculoskeletal origin that started one week ago, they may only need a couple of sessions, whereas somebody who's come in with a 20-year history of back pain may need more sessions over a period of months.

Obviously, you are a Chiropractor but there are other facilities on offer at AECC University College aren’t there?

Yes, there are range of services on offer here including an upright MRI scanner, X-ray, and ultrasound facilities on campus too. I am also trained in dry needling and I use exercise rehabilitation facilities here in my work as well.

How do you enjoy working with the students at the clinic?

 I really enjoy it; I find it very rewarding to see their progress when they start in the clinic and as they move through to their exams. It's really nice to support them through that and see the confidence in their skills grow. And they find a lot of benefit in having all of us clinical professionals around so they can ask questions and we can share our experiences and techniques. So, it's a really nice aspect of the job being able to see them progress from students to clinicians.

You can find out more about the Chiropractic courses AECC University College has to offer here.

Alternatively, if you’d like to make an appointment to visit our Chiropractic Clinic, our phone lines are open from 9.30am to 6pm on a Monday and 8.30am to 6pm Tuesday to Friday. You can get in touch with our friendly reception team on 01202 436222.