One of the most exciting aspects of being a chiropractor is helping people on a daily basis. I have been in practice now for more than 11 years, and I still get excited every morning when I go to work because I have so much fun working with my patients.
No doubt you are excited about sharing the benefits of chiropractic with your patients. As a healthcare provider we have the important job of making sure we listen to our patients, administer the proper care and relieve pain so the patients can start to feel better again. Our goal is to help them perform as optimally as possible and it involves teamwork between the doctor and the patient.
Once the patient is out of your pain and discomfort, it feels as if they have their life back again. They are able to go out and perform everyday activities like exercising, playing golf or going places with their family. We as chiropractors are extremely pleased when our patients begin feeling better, and eventually they tell us they feel “normal” again. But our responsibility to the patient does not end there.
In my practice, I start a relationship with my patients – one that is deeply rooted in trust and understanding – on the first day I meet them. I explain and educate them on their ailment, the treatment and what they are expected to do outside the office to help get them better. This expectation I have of patients taking care of themselves follows them throughout their lives, even after we have stopped active care.
As much as we hope that our adjustments hold forever and our patients continue to feel better, the reality is that, inevitably, the patient will need check-ups every so often. Life circumstances often arise that can cause the spine and other joints of the body to become stressed and thrown back out of alignment.
Here’s a good analogy to talk about with your patients. “Did you know that you could benefit from regular spinal check-ups – just like you benefit when a dentist cleans your teeth or a mechanic changes the oil in your car? Regular chiropractic maintenance can help you avoid major problems before they happen!”
Lifestyle stress or injuries can happen to the body simply as a part of living a normal life. Think for a moment about your average daily activities. As you re-trace your steps from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, you can probably identify numerous tasks that could potentially cause stress on your body.
There are so many different types of activities that we perform during the course of a day, week or month. I will give you a few of the most common scenarios that our patients describe to us when they come in seeking treatment for flare-ups.
How about those days when you are home and you need to do the laundry, vacuum, mop the floors and straighten up around the house. Could any of these duties cause your body some wear and tear? Let’s not forget those of you who work clerical or desk jobs. You might spend much of your day sitting in meetings, sitting at your desk typing on the computer, talking on the phone, filing papers or photocopying. Do any of these activities put stress on your body? Of course these activities can be stressful – especially over time!
Even engaging in activities that are good for you can lead to stress on your body, such as regular exercise or sports-related activities. Think of the average exercise workout you do at the gym or at your house. Run through it in your mind for a second from start to finish and visualize what you are putting your body through. It can be as simple as going on the treadmill or elliptical machine all the way to intense weight training. It can involve a nice, slow stretching class to a very intense spinning class. Pilates Reformer/Mat Classes, Yoga, Bosu Ball, Foam Roller, Exercise Ball. What’s your cup of tea?
Now think about specific athletic events that you still may engage in. Is it basketball, tennis, golf, running, racquetball, or softball? Whatever you prefer to play, do you think it could put a strain on your body? The answer is YES it can!
Why Can’t Chiropractic Last Longer?
One of the questions patients ask me is, “Why can’t you just put me back in alignment and it stay that way? Why do I have to come back every so often?” If you have not already figured out the answer, then think about the previous paragraphs filled with your work and athletic activities. The reason why your chiropractic adjustments do not hold forever is because you go out and live your life. When you do the things we described earlier, over time your muscles, spine and joints react to the stress.
When you think about it, almost every single job or daily activity can have an effect on the alignment of the spine and extremities. Even though we encourage patients to exercise to stay healthy, it can cause stress on the body that needs to be addressed. The body reacts by moving out of alignment and muscles spasm, which causes swelling, pain and discomfort to return. Does that mean they shouldn’t exercise? NO! Stress is a normal part of life; the point I want to make is that you should encourage your patients to do something to keep it from negatively affecting their body and their health!
Some patients are able to hold their adjustments longer than others. Certain patients may only come in for an annual check-up, because they exercise and do things that keep them strong. Other patients may come back every two weeks, because their daily routine is so physically demanding that they are thrown out of alignment quickly. It all depends on genetics, commitment to your home exercises, and lifestyle. You can work with your patients to discover what each person’s optimal frequency should be for coming back to the office for spinal tune-ups.