Since the inception of chiropractic over 100 years ago, the movers and shakers of the profession have always sought new and innovative techniques and methods of care to help their patients get better. Pioneers such as J. Clay Thompson, DC, PhC, and Clarence S. Gonstead, DC, were always refining their knowledge.
Many doctors have been satisfied and done extremely well basing their practice on correcting the subluxation complex with adjusting techniques alone. Others have ventured a bit forward, adding modalities and additions such as electric flexion distraction. In today’s health care market, however, patients are getting savvier and are often seeking a doctor who is using new and exciting treatment alternatives to an adjustment.
While the adjustment is still the profession’s bread and butter, there are now additional avenues to be explored that can not only help patients feel better faster, but also raise your bottom line and profits. It goes without saying that if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Most practitioners want to expand on that toolbox.
In the simplest equation, one and one are two, but in health care, the sum of one and one can be three. Simply put, combining two outstanding treatment methods can give a better result than when using them individually.
When you add any new treatment or modality into your clinic, you want to get better results, patient satisfaction, and a swift return on your investment. Equipment costs can add up, and another factor is the time needed to administer them.
Tying up a therapist for an hour for a $12 insurance payment isn’t time or money well spent. You need to add upgrades that are fast, self-administering or requiring minimal staff time, and that offer a good return. If the return is cash-based, even better.
You might consider offering spinal decompression, which is a well-established modality. It produces exceptional results, only takes a few minutes of time, and is a pay-as-you-go-based treatment. And you can now purchase a good spinal decompression table for $15,000 or less. That might sound expensive, but getting a payment of $50 or more per treatment adds up fast. Those in larger cities can also charge more per visit than those in smaller rural areas.
Most of the time, a therapist can perform decompression and the doctor might not see the patient or just come by to say hello and ask how they’re doing. The doctor only needs to give the prescription for the different factors involved, such as hold time, rest, and treatment time, and let appropriately trained staff do the rest.
Factors such as age, abuse, and wear and tear produce a tremendous negative impact on the disc that usually will be in need of rehydration and repair. Both of these are common factors when it comes to low-back pain and certain neuralgias.
Some patients need distraction as they are being treated, and others tend to fall asleep during the procedure. Decompression should never be painful during or after the therapy, and patients often have a reduction of symptoms quickly.
The second factor that is combined with spinal decompression is laser therapy. There is actually quite a bit of debate among laser manufacturers about the efficacy of class 3 or class 4 lasers. This article will not settle that question, but rather focus on combining spinal decompression and laser therapy together to obtain maximum patient recovery.
Some prefer a class 4 laser, but you can use lower power laser if you prefer. You should obtain positive results if the laser is of good quality from a reputable manufacturer.
As you may know, lasers heal using the principle of photobiomodulation. Without going too deep into the technical aspects, photobiomodulation refers to the reaction of the cell and mitochondria to light stimulation.
This phenomenon causes an increase in adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and healing of the damaged structure.
Besides having patients who are exclusively seeking spinal decompression, our practice has a large following for only laser therapy, especially for areas such as the knees, low back, and shoulders. Laser is extremely fast and results are often immediate. When combined with spinal decompression, the results can be extraordinary.
After an exam , X-rays, or other needed diagnostics, our patients start out with a 10-minute decompression treatment. Parameters are set for each patient based on size, weight, condition, and area of consideration. There is no cookie-cutter formula, but we try to make spinal decompression easy to learn.
The position called “reverse inversion” is extremely comfortable for the patient, and it doesn’t put strain or pressure on the eyes or other parts of the body. Besides the pull of the decompression head, the position allows gravity to help as well. We increase the treatment one minute for every visit for a maximum of 15 to 18 minutes.
Treatment parameters are reviewed every four visits and they are usually changed as treatment progresses and patient improvement is demonstrated. Watch out for over-traction. This can result in a condition known as “spinal disconnect,” where the patient is left worse than when they started and the systems of the body do not act synergistically. It is better to use too little pull than too much.
When combining the two therapies, consider starting with spinal decompression. It relaxes the patient and prepares the disc and supporting structures for the healing benefit of the laser.
When the disc has been addressed and rehydrated, the results last longer and healing is quicker when followed with laser therapy. It’s recommended to have the laser in the spinal decompression room to minimize patient movement.
You can tell patients in simplified form that spinal decompression sets and aligns the spine, much like building blocks. Then laser therapy is used to help keep the vertebra in line as well as help with the healing process of the disc.
If you use a dual-frequency laser, you’ll find it good for rehabilitation, pain control and improved blood flow. The double combination of wavelengths helps speed the healing process and, when combined with spinal decompression, it’s a strong tool for patient care.
Gary Huddleston, DC, is a 38-year chiropractic veteran and has published over 100 articles in various chiropractic and professional publications. He is the owner of Accuflex Tables and his practice includes working for professional sports, music, and the film and entertainment industries. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through accuflextables.com.