A few analogies
The traditional western way of thinking about health care involves having a problem and going to the doctor to get it fixed or to give you something to reduce or eliminate the symptoms. It’s this model that can make it difficult to understand why many chiropractors will suggest you come back more regularly, both when they are actively treating a condition and when you may assume your issue is resolved. Below are a few analogies to help adjust your mindset to a more preventative model of health care.
Chiropractic care is much like proper dental care. You brush your teeth daily and schedule an appointment every six months for check-ups even if nothing is wrong to prevent other major problems from happening in the future, like the dreaded root canal. You don’t stop brushing because you don’t have a cavity, you brush to prevent one in the first place. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental care are necessary to keep your mouth clean and healthy.
Another way to think about preventative care is to consider how you take care of your car. You change the oil, rotate the tires, and keep fluids full. Why? Not because something is necessarily wrong, but because you don’t want to get to the point where you run out of oil, your tires wear down, or you run out of power steering fluid. This can not only be dangerous and inconvenient but it can also cost you a lot more in the long run. Preventative care seems like a no brainer for our cars but we’re less likely to treat our bodies the same way.
Most of our patients take at least one prescription drug. If your medical doctor prescribes a drug for high blood pressure, they don’t expect you to just take it once and have your problems resolved. In most cases, they don’t even expect you just to take it until the drug controls the issue, they expect you to stay on it long term. This is rarely questioned. While you certainly don’t need to see a chiropractor daily, seeing one at regular intervals can help keep any issues you may have at bay so that you avoid those major episodes that involve a lot of pain, an inability to work, and a lot more expense.
Finally, to add a healthy spin to the discussion, we’re all well aware that regular exercise and a healthy diet has major benefits to our health. If we’re trying to lose weight, we can’t just exercise one day or one week even and expect long lasting results. We have to commit to changing our lifestyles and incorporating healthy diets and exercise regularly to maintain health and prevent problems like weight gain or various diseases. Like a healthy diet and exercise, chiropractic care can help ensure that your body is functioning properly so that you can be and feel as healthy as possible.
Prevention is key
Chiropractic care is about prevention and thus regular check-ups are necessary to ensure proper functioning of the nervous system. Just because you don’t feel pain or have any symptoms doesn’t mean your spine is in alignment. To protect yourself from larger issues requiring more extensive treatment, time and money, it is essential to handle your health in a preventative manner. If you wait until you are really in pain and it begins to effect your daily life, it will take much longer to resolve the condition.
Find a schedule that works for you
What is considered “regular” can differ widely between individuals. Care plans are created specifically by the doctor for each patient based on their condition and response to treatment. A young child or healthy individual may only need to come in once a month, while someone with an injury may require more frequent visits to restore their body to proper functioning. The longer you wait to address an issue, the longer it can take to resolve it. Chronic problems or issues stemming from longstanding injuries may require more frequent care. Your job, your activity level, or your lifestyle in general can all impact how often you may need to come in and how well you respond to treatment.
Remember this, your vertebrae or spinal bones, are connected to muscles. When your bone is out of alignment it pulls on the muscle which is often the pain you feel. Your muscles have a memory so if you have had the misalignment for awhile or it was due to an injury, the muscle will likely continue to pull the bone out of place until you can create a new memory. That is the reason why in the beginning, your doctor may ask you to come back more than once a week. The goal is to keep the bone in line and retrain the muscles. Some people respond faster than others so the frequency of visits is dependent on the individual.
The doctor may also give you stretches to do at home or other tips to help facilitate your treatment. If you stretch regularly or follow his suggestions, you may be able to extend the time between visits.
Ultimately, how often you come is based on the results you want. But if you think about an adjustment like an oil change and know you are doing it to prevent a major breakdown, you may be more inclined to stop in before your “Check Engine” light starts blinking!
Be your own health advocate
At the end of the day, no one knows your body better than you and the best thing you can do for your health is to listen to what your body is telling you. Whether you are at a chiropractor, a medical doctor or a dentist — if something doesn’t sound right, ask more questions! We are much more equipped to help people when they are honest about their concerns or any issues they may be having whether that be with their own bodies or with a specific treatment we may be doing. Learn to be an advocate for your health and don’t be afraid to be assertive about your needs.