It is important to understand the stages of chiropractic care because they are unique relative to those of other health-care disciplines. Because chiropractic addresses core physiological and biomechanical aspects of the body, the process to correct problems without drugs or surgery can take some time. Some conditions can be treated in a few visits, while others may take longer.
1. RELIEF CARE
The majority of patients consult a chiropractor because they have an ache or pain. In the first phase of care, the main objective is to eliminate or reduce your discomfort and stabilize your condition in the shortest amount of time. During this phase, progress is usually rapid.
Treatments focus on those techniques and therapies which most quickly and effectively reduce pain and other discomforts. This will allow the majority of individuals to continue their activities of daily living. Patients are generally recommended to “take it easy” but are encouraged to stay mobile and functional so long as there is not a risk of further injury or tissue damage. Therapies that reduce inflammation and muscle spasm are also used during this stage when present.
The number of times you visit a chiropractor during this phase of care varies and is dependent upon your specific condition. It’s hard to say how long it will be until you see relief- it could be as short as a week or up to a month. If you are not responding to chiropractic care during this phase, you may be referred to another health-care provider.
2. CORRECTIVE OR REHABILITATIVE CARE
Once your condition has stabilized, you enter the second phase of care, where the objective is to correct any underlying injury or cause of discomfort, strengthen the muscles, healing and rehabilitating the injured tissues and improve neuromusculoskeletal function. Care may be supplemented by rehabilitation exercises, nutrition, and modification of daily habits.
It is important to remember that many of the conditions for which people seek care have developed over many years; therefore, correcting these problems is a true rehabilitative process. It helps to understand that it takes time to correct these conditions.
Once your discomfort has subsided, you may think all is well and choose to abandon your efforts. However, if you end your care before fully healing the muscles and soft tissues, you can invite a relapse. This is a mistake many people make, and it sets them up for recurring health issues. It’s hard to believe that, after all the time, effort, energy, and money put into correcting a problem, a patient would choose to forgo this relatively easy phase of care! As much as we’d love to see you in our office, we’d much rather assist you in maintaining your health rather than relieving your pain.
3. WELLNESS CARE
You then “graduate” to the wellness phase, which is designed to maintain your improved health, encourage normal spinal function, prevent the return of the original condition, and catch small problems before they become serious. A personal wellness care program will be designed specifically for you where we teach you how to incorporate good nutrition and exercise habits into your everyday life, thereby promoting vitality, endurance, and the ability to enjoy life at its fullest.
A good way to look at chiropractic is to relate it to dentistry. We all know it takes a long time to develop tooth decay, but with regular maintenance and check-ups, the plaque doesn’t have a chance. Similarly, it often takes a long time to develop a spinal misalignment. But with regular maintenance, the bones will not have a chance to get out of line.
Few things as complicated as your body can be “fixed” and then ignored. Think of your car, your teeth, or your relationships. They take time and effort to maintain, but you know it’s worth it in the long run. That’s why we recommend a regular schedule of chiropractic check-ups.