Do I have to keep on coming back?
This has to be the most often discussed topic among those who don't understand the methods of chiropractic care. I heard a joke one time concerning this. How many chiropractors does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is one, but it takes ten visits!! There are two main reasons why people continue to see chiropractors. The first deals with a program of visits that enables patients to get from a painful, weakened state of spinal health to a very strong, rehabilitated, and pain-free state. The second reason of continuation is that most people at this level desire to remain in this state and as a result seek periodic chiropractic care to maintain this condition.
Initial care in a chiropractor's office is usually broken down into two stages. Due to the fact that the patient usually enters the office with some type of discomfort, the first stage usually consists of repetitive visits to free the subluxation and allow the body relief as soon as possible. The pain-relief stage may consist of daily adjustments, and sometimes therapy to help assist with some of the effects of subluxation (muscle spasm, tissue swelling, etc.). The second stage of the initial care deals with rehabilitating the spine. This deals with several adjustments per week for the duration of the healing phase. The body normally heals in six to twelve weeks, depending on the severity of the subluxation. In summary, an initial phase of care with the goals to establish correction and rehabilitation of the subluxations may take daily visits for one to two weeks, and three visits per week for four to ten weeks thereafter. WHY? The reason of frequency consists of a soft tissue that connects the bones and joints together. These are called ligaments. Ligaments have a tendency to stretch and sprain during a subluxation. Due to a poor blood supply, they have a tendency to heal slowly. It is because of this fact that initially after an adjustment, the body will revert and go back to its abnormally locked position; it is with repetition that the adjustments will begin to hold. These ligaments, like bones and muscles, heal normally within six to twelve weeks. An analogy would be someone with a broken leg. The person normally would have a cast on for four weeks and then a brace on for four weeks. Why are athletes always out for four to six weeks? It is because this is the amount of time it takes for proper healing of these tissues. When a broken bone doesn't hurt any more, why don't they remove the cast? Obviously because it hasn't healed 100%. Knowing the same things about subluxations, chiropractors base their cases on the same timetables. Why can't you adjust a subluxation and then put a cast on to hold it in place? Though it would probably work, it is not practical. Knowing that the ligaments heal properly while under lines of stress, three adjustments weekly normally offer the appropriate frequency in attaining rehabilitation. This concept goes hand in hand with exercise programs that require workouts three times weekly for best results. At the conclusion of initial active care, the doctor normally dismisses the patient as having a rehabilitated, strong, and healthy spine.
At this time, on-going care is presented to maintain the current level of spinal function. One option is maintenance care. This is usually monthly to determine the state of the spine and adjust whatever subluxations are present at that time. Studies show that after rehabilitating part of your body, or by exercising vigorously for a period of time, you can maintain that level of muscle tone by working out one time a month. It is the same concept that applies to maintenance care. Other patients opt for a more aggressive maintenance care (weekly adjustments) to not only reconstruct the spine but also insure the healthiest nervous system possible. Reconstructive care is similar to putting "braces" on the spine. It is less frequent than active care, but lasts for a longer period of time.
People feel better and healthier while under chiropractic care. Once nerve interference is removed by spinal adjustments, the only effects can be positive to the human body. Just like eating nutritious food, sleeping correctly, and exercising frequently contribute to better health, so does consistent chiropractic care. Next time someone asks why do you continue to seek chiropractic care, even after you are pain free, ask the following. Why do people exercise three times a week? Why do people eat fruit, vegetables, and non-fat foods? The answer obviously is that it makes them feel better and healthier. The same is true for periodic chiropractic adjustments. Without subluxations, the body is allowed to perform 100%. Why do I get my teeth checked twice a year and eyes checked once a year but my spine twelve times a year? Technically we use our teeth an average of three times a day. Though our eyes are an important organ for senses, it is pretty obvious when it would become necessary to be checked in addition to a regular annual check-up (blurred vision). Reasons included for more frequent chiropractic care are multiple. The first and most important reason is that the spinal cord and all its nerves travel within the spine and exit from every possible opening.
Another reason is that we continuously use our spines repetitively throughout the day. Another deals with the poor hygiene we have for our spine. From consistent poor work habits to bad posture, we as a society wear out our spines. Therefore there is a need for more frequent chiropractic check-ups.
In this author's opinion this is the greatest service a chiropractor provides in his/her office. It is a service that no other health care provider can offer. There is no drug or surgery that you can take once a month to make you healthier. My ultimate vision one day is to have an entire community on lifetime maintenance chiropractic care.