Last week I wrote about what chiropractic is able to do for people. Over the past 40 years that I have been in practice, chiropractic has changed. Chiropractic is now teaching its students that it is more than a health platform for treating low back, neck, and headache pain. The students are being taught to be far more objective and far more extensive with their initial examinations with the patients.
Pain has, for most of my career as a chiropractor, been the metric by which my success as a doctor was graded. The patient came to me with pain and the unspoken objective was to eliminate the pain as quickly as possible. Fortunately, chiropractic is excellent at pain control, so it appeared as if chiropractors were magic. It became a way of thinking that a chiropractic manipulation would eliminate pain so that one treatment was all that was necessary. What makes this all the more amazing is that the “off switch” for the pain lives at the level of the spine where the nerve exits the spinal cord that carries the pain signal to the brain.
Why is that so important? A chiropractic adjustment (which is the big treatment tool of the chiropractor) delivered to the spine turns off the nerve’s ability to carry pain signals almost immediately. The hardest thing a chiropractor had to do was to teach the patient that their pain was controlled by nerves running from where they hurt up those nerves to the spinal cord and the brain. It became very easy to make that concept connection because of the pain that was relieved by spinal adjustment. If the vertebra was “out” of alignment, then there was pain. If the vertebra was “in” alignment there was relief. One spinal adjustment would do the trick. Why would anyone need any more adjustments?
Oh! If it were only that simple. Health is a process not an event. We all know that. Losing weight is not a one and done procedure, it is a long process that takes work. Recovery from surgery is not a sew them back up and put them back to work type of therapy. It is a process. It works the same way with chiropractic. Have you ever wondered why an adjustment didn’t seem to “stay” or “hold”? The reasons the adjustments do not result in lasting relief are what is being taught to the chiropractic students today. I’m lucky. I have one of those students in my family currently. I get to learn because he talks with me frequently about chiropractic.
Chiropractic is more of a science today than an art. It was an art when my dad was in practice and has been transitioning to a science throughout my career. Today, because chiropractic had to “prove” to the health care community that what we do isn’t magic, we understand far more about what chiropractic does and is capable of.
Today, as a chiropractor I want to first and foremost alleviate my patient’s pain. Second, I want to find what is in the patient’s body that isn’t working correctly so I can fix it and stop the causation of the pain. You see, pain is merely an indicator light on the dashboard of your car. Pain simply is telling you that there is a problem, not specifically what the problem is. You would never put electrical tape over the indicator light on the dashboard of your car and think you “fixed” the issue, right? We need to discover not only what body tissue is turning on the indicator light, but what happened to make it turn the light on in the first place.
This is why in my office we do a very extensive history and examination. I need to know as much as I possibly can about your health. It is somewhere in that information that I find clues as to what has gone wrong and why. When I discover that, the process of not only eliminating the pain, but stopping the cause becomes clearer.
Because there is more to helping you with chiropractic care than just alleviating your pain, I need another indicator to let us both know how well the treatments are progressing. Pain is the last symptom to show up and the first symptom to go away. Many times, it turns out to be the day-to-day activities that the patient is doing on a regular basis are stressing certain tissues. Those stressed tissues become inflamed and turn on the pain indicator. As a patient, you subconsciously recognize the indicator light is on and change a movement pattern or maybe even stop doing an activity. This is why I like to use functional capacities as my measure of treatment success.
I want to know what things you like to do that your current problem is preventing consciously or unconsciously from doing. It may be simple things like walking, sitting, or even bending over. It may be more complex things like playing golf or bowling. The point is, until you are healed at a level that allows you to go back to those functions, you will always have a returning problem. That problem will get worse and worse unless it is attended to, repaired, and strengthened.
In my office, I want you to be involved with the entire treatment process. You need to disclose fully to me what has gone wrong, when your first became aware of the problem, why you think it started, and what the problem is keeping you from doing. I want to give you the best care that is supported by the latest medical evidence to help you get rid of your pain and get back to the life you want.
This may entail some changes in thinking on your part, as a patient. You may have to give up on the idea of one treatment and you are finished with chiropractic until the next time. It definitely means that, as my patient, you need to be taking a more active role in your recovery process. This will likely include exercise and diet along with the treatments that we deliver. It is up to me to check on your progress and your commitment to that treatment plan. We now have in place in my office ways for me to check on my patient’s compliance with the care plans the both of us agree to. These are changes that feel different to both of us. Change is always uncomfortable, but trust me, it’s for the better. This is what chiropractic can do for you. If this is something that interests you or maybe might be of interest to a friend or family member, please go to the “forms” tab on this website and download an intake form. Fill that form out and bring it with you when you schedule an appointment. Use the contact links on the webpage or call 724-285-9093 and schedule your appointment today! Remember, your health IS my concern.