One of the many things that I hear from people when I speak to them about chiropractic are the negative perceptions that seem to come along with visiting a chiropractor. “Do I have to really take 40 visits? Do I have to go for my entire life?”. The answer to both of these is, of course not. I understand the frustration that one may go through with the concept of multiple visits to the chiropractor. Realistically, though, we can’t fix years of abuse that has been left alone with one treatment. Every patient that comes through our door is given a specific treatment plan that fits them and what they need to do in order to fix their own problem. The number of treatments is different for each individual for a wide variety of factors such as: injury (or injuries), genetics, surgeries, physical activity, weight, diet, hobbies and the list goes on, but all of these play a role in the amount of treatment necessary. Another really important factor is how long the particular condition has been developing, in most cases chiropractic is the last resort for patients and they have had their problem for quite some time.
Another step in the development of the treatment plan is based on what the patient wants or their goals. If all they want to do is feel better than it may only take a small amount of treatment to get them on their way. “Feeling better” is not a good marker for how things actually are. There are many conditions that show no symptoms, but the end result is – death. We saw this in our own clinic with one of the doctors. He had a free ultrasound done on his heart and they found an aortic aneurysm a.k.a - The Widow Maker. If he had not gone in and found this problem the only symptom he would have shown when it finally gave out would have been death. There are many people out there, just as one of our doctors was, with conditions such as this and they do not even know about it and they think they are fine. The same goes for our spine and our nervous system! It has the amazing ability to heal and adapt our bodies to our surroundings. Most people are walking around with problems that they do not even know about or they know about and they choose to ignore the signs. It is when the body can no longer adapt or compensate to the stress they have been putting on it, that they walk through our front door in pain. The problem is that their body has been adapting to the dysfunction for much longer than the time they have been experiencing pain and now that the body can no longer adapt to this it expresses symptoms such as pain.
If a patient’s goal is overall improvement of health and the correction or the problem they have been faced with, then the pain or symptoms are only a small part of the treatment plan. First and foremost pain reduction is the most important goal of the beginning of the treatment plan. After the pain has subsided we can start to figure out how and why you were experiencing the pain in the first place. In the process of care we can start to unravel what the body has done in attempt to adapt to the changes that have taken place. Most care plans have some sort of rehabilitative care such as stretching or strengthening muscles and lifestyle changes such as diet and posture throughout the day.
If you wanted to keep your car running at optimal condition you would change the oil, wash the car, rotate your tires and get in routinely checks. If you do the following then when it goes into the shop there is much less work that needs to be done on it and these checkups allow the shop to find potential problems before they become a big mess. However, if you’ve been ignoring the flashing lights in your dashboard and the weird noises your car has been making, we both know that when you go to bring it in that it is going to need more work done on it. The same goes for going into the chiropractor if you want to have a healthy body then you have to treat your body well by exercising, eating right, watching your posture, getting plenty of sleep and regular visits to your chiropractor regardless of symptoms. The same examples that I listed with your car apply here as well. If you’ve taken care of yourself and treated yourself right then there is little that we need to do as chiropractors, but this gives us a chance to catch problems before they occur. Vice versa, if you haven’t been doing the things to keep a healthy body there is a good chance that your problems will involve more treatment associated with your care. With the auto shop or the chiropractor, at some point you’re going to need us sooner or later. You can take care of your car or you can run it until the transmission falls out and in the same sense you can either take care of your body and visit the chiropractor regularly or you can wait until you need much more dramatic treatment such as surgery. I hope to see you way before then!
Best of health,