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Getting well by simply following the plan

For those of us that are parents, I have a question for you. How many times have you coached, instructed, or pleaded with your child not to give up on a task? Can you remember it being so frustrating to watch as they struggled to complete the task they wanted to succeed at? When we are the outside observers, we see how close they really are to being successful, but due to their inexperience, they cannot see the finish line that is so evident to us.

It is the same for me as a chiropractor with my patients at times. I know from practical experience, as well as from the medically reviewed literature, about how long and how many visits it will take to successfully tret a condition. I know we have to stop a patient’s pain, repair the damaged tissue that caused the pain, as well as add enough fitness work to that patient to prevent the problem from returning the first time they return to the rigors of their daily activities.

I had a patient recently that came to my office for a stiff and painful condition in his neck. He told me that he knew the problem was a vertebra that was “out” in his neck. He also confided in me that he just knew I would put the vertebra back “in” and he would feel great again, just like it always.

I listened to his symptoms, how the condition had occurred, what he did to make it feel better, and what he did that made it feel worse. Through the course of the examination and testing, I learned that he had been recently doing some heavier lifting and some overhead work. He noted that for a few days his shoulder would hurt when he lifted his arm overhead, but that had gone away and now it longer hurt him. All he reported at the present time was neck pain that was on the same side as the shoulder that had the problem earlier.

My physical examination revealed an abnormal movement pattern at his shoulder blade when he raised and lowered his arm. When I did a postural examination, I saw his one shoulder was higher than the other shoulder when he was just standing normally. There were tight muscles in the shoulder, probably from the previous overuse that were causing abnormal shoulder movements and positioning. That positioning was causing a pinching of some of the tissues in the shoulder. This in turn caused the muscles to pull in the neck and cause him pain.

I told him that we could ease his pain very quickly but fixing the problem would take a little more time and effort. This was because we had to correct the muscle imbalance and restore the normal strength as well as normal movement to the shoulder. I let him know that the latest literature indicated that four to six weeks of a two of visits per week would be necessary to not only eliminate the neck pain but also to fix the cause of that pain that was in the shoulder.

He told me he just wanted his neck pain to stop. I treated the immediate problem in his neck, and he was thrilled. He felt great. When he left the office, I wondered how many hours it would be before he was back in the office. Two days later he called and said he was miserable again and now his shoulder hurt. I scheduled him back in for a follow up visit and at that time I reviewed all the causes of his problem with him. I outlined the same care plan and repeated how long it would take to totally fix the problem.

Fortunately, this patient was a better listener than my children, and he followed my instructions, exercises, and home care plan to the letter. Two weeks later he had no pain, he had a nearly perfect posture, and the abnormality in the movement of the shoulder had totally disappeared. He and I both were thrilled because it took half the time that we expected for that type of recovery.

The point of this case study is that you can try to short cut the healing and recovery process, but this usually does not work out and it usually ends up being more costly as well as more time consuming. This patient was fortunate enough to recognize that he needed to change his thinking and he did so quickly. He knew he was close to the finish line initially, but he learned to follow through and finish the job to get the win.

I want to emphasize that chiropractic is not the answer to every problem that you may have. I also would like to point out that chiropractic does more than just move vertebra back into spinal alignment for pain relief. We try to emphasize and encourage our patients to take an active role in setting the goals for their recovery as well as being active partners in the treatment process. If this type of care sounds interesting to you, please contact our office today and schedule your consultation.

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