Nutritional counseling is key for patients with back pain as ‘poor diets can be reflected in bowel movements, and food can be the source of pain
Do you want to give nutrition counseling to your patients, but you’re not sure where to start?
According to Todd Sinett, DC, founder of Tru Whole Care, inventor of the Backbridge, and author of five books, you as the chiropractor and provider should take the first step.
Nutrition counseling and whole health
“Nutrition counseling is imperative for my patients. As a second-generation chiropractor, I have seen first-hand the effects nutrition plays in whole health, so much so I have worked side-by-side with a nutritionist for years and written “The Back Pain Relief Diet,” devoted to why and how nutrition relates to back health,” explains Sinett. “Never wait for a patient to ask questions — volunteer information if it can benefit them.”
He suggests that DCs start nutrition counseling with an overall assessment and really listen to your patients.
“When I see indicators leading to nutritional issues, I consult with our nutritionist. Together, we assess and put forth a plan of suggested solutions for the patient,” Sinett explains.
When you do your nutritional assessment, adds Sinett, be sure to ask patients about their emotional health as well.
“I believe the biggest mistake a medical professional can make is rooted in not listening to everything the patient has to say,” says Sinett. “Ask as many questions about family, work, and stress to get to the root of the problem. It’s all connected.”
Back pain and the gut
Sinett believes that there are three root causes in back pain — structural, digestive, and/or emotional.
“After a full assessment of your patient, you will see indicators that help begin the conversation for their solution. Every ‘body’ is unique, and each path to pain-free health will be different,” he says. “Know thy patient.”
When Sinett begins nutritional conversations with patients, he asks them two specific questions: “I typically start any new patient conversation — when I feel they could benefit from a nutritional consultation – with, ‘Have you recently been constipated or had diarrhea and have you seen an increase in your gas pains?’” he says. “Because poor diets can be reflected in bowel movements, food can be the source of pain for many.”
In his recent book, The Good Sh*t, Sinett writes about how importance healthy bowel movements are in relation to back pain.
“If a patient has severe abdominal pain, I do an X-ray as part of my assessment to see if I can find traces of gas. If I find excessive traces of gas, I consult with our Tru Whole Care nutritionist to put forth a plan of action to see what types of food — or lifestyle habits — could be causing the gas.”
Although Sinett himself doesn’t sell nutritional supplements, he still makes sure that his patients can have access to them if they turn out to be necessary for their treatment. When he begins these kinds of nutrition counseling conversations with them, he consults with his practice’s naturopathic doctor.
“If I see a patient who could benefit from additional supplement support — she is my go-to expert for all things supplements,” says Sinett. “With my patient’s permission, I share my findings and assessment with her and she, in turn, conducts her own assessment leading to her supplement solutions.”
Sinett stresses that when talking to patients about nutrition — and getting any kind of assessment from them — be sure to discuss their whole person. “Everything is connected,” he says.