Have you ever given a patient health-related advice and had him or her not follow it?
Or, worse yet, have you ever had a patient take some sort of action that wasn’t in line with what you recommended, thus aggravating their musculoskeletal condition and making it worse?
According to one research article published in Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, the answer is a resounding yes and it’s putting patients at risk.
The risk of patient non-compliance
In “The challenge of patient adherence,” the authors state that, depending on the condition, as many as 40 percent or more of patients “sustain significant risks by misunderstanding, forgetting, or ignoring healthcare advice.”
At a minimum, these risks can greatly lower a person’s quality of life. Worst case scenario, they could prematurely end it.
This highlights the importance of not only making sure your patients are crystal clear on their health-related issues and how to best treat them or at least stop them from progressing, but it also underscores the importance of persuading them to tend to their own health and wellness in between office visits.
One way to do this is to help them select the tools they need to look after their musculoskeletal issues when you’re not right there with them.
For patients with issues relating to herniated or bulging discs, this often means providing advice about decompression tables designed for home use.
Decompression table for patient use
“Decompression for the home is a great way to have your patients actively involved in their treatment, which will help with their overall compliance,” says Todd Goldman, DC at Total Chiropractic Care and Wellness.
Goldman goes on to say that “there are a number of high quality decompression units that will fit your patient’s needs.”
For instance, to help patients reduce their level of pain associated with spinal compression, Goldman suggests the purchase of an inversion table, which can decline at varying degrees depending on patient tolerance.
“I have found for some of my patients, the pain decreases immediately by taking the pressure off the discs as well as increasing nerve space,” he says.
However, this type of table “must be used with caution for people with high blood pressure and people who lack mobility,” says Goldman. Therefore, if your patient has one or both of these issues, the home inversion table may not be the best choice.
Another option, according to Goldman, is to suggest a decompression table in which the patient is on their knees and leans forward. This tractions the thoracic and lumbar spine.
Plus, it’s “easy to use and easy to get in and out of,” he says. That makes this a great option for the person who isn’t well suited for an inversion table due to limited mobility.
And if the patient needs cervical traction, Goldman says, “I usually recommend the traction pump where they can sit up or lay down. All the patient has to do is give the device a few pumps and it will take the pressure off the cervical discs.”
When home decompression is not recommended
There are also some instances in which a DC should not recommend home decompression to a patient. For example, “Decompression should not be used if the patient is pregnant (only the lumbar),” shares Goldman.
In addition, he also says that a home table is not advisable if there is “instability in the spine, tumor, fracture, abdominal aortic aneurysm, advanced osteoarthritis, severe spondylolisthesis, recent spine surgery, or hardware in the spine.”
“There are many different decompression units that you and your patients can choose from as long as the contraindications are taken into consideration,” says Goldman, adding that “home decompression for your patients is a great addition to what we do in our offices and they don’t have to spend a fortune to purchase one.”