Laying the Foundation
Chiropractic care is like building a house - certain things have to happen in a particular order in order for everything to stand strong and work correctly. When building a house, if you tried to put up your walls before you had a solid foundation, your walls would be weak and eventually collapse. If you tried to put on your roof before the walls were ready, you would run into the same problem. The same is true for your body. Your body has to go through a particular plan of care in order to repair itself correctly and fully. There are three general phases of chiropractic care.
This video, from the American Chiropractic Association, provides information for a new patient about what to expect at a typical office visit.
Phase 1: Relief Care
If you are in pain when you come into our office, the first objective is to help you feel better. Depending on the severity of your problem, it is typical to need care a few times per week for 4-12 weeks.
Many people go to a chiropractor because they are in pain. In this first phase of care, the main goal is to reduce your symptoms. Sometimes this will require daily visits, or two to three visits per week for a time.
Most people are under the assumption that if they don't feel any pain that there is nothing wrong with them - that they are healthy. Unfortunately, pain is a very poor indicator of health. In fact, pain and other symptoms frequently only appear after a disease or other condition has become advanced.
For example, consider a cavity in your tooth. Does it hurt when it first develops or only after it has become serious? How about heart disease? Regardless of whether you are talking about cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stress or problems with the spine, pain is usually the last thing to appear. When you begin chiropractic care, pain is also the first symptom to disappear, even though much of the underlying condition remains.
Phase 2: Corrective/Restorative Care
During the corrective care phase, muscles and other tissues are allowed to heal more completely, thereby helping prevent injury. It is typical to need care 4-8 times per month for 6-24 months, depending on your overall health and the severity of your problem.
Most chiropractors regard the elimination of symptoms as the easiest part of a persons care. If all that the chiropractor does is to reduce the pain and stop there, the chances of the condition recurring are much greater. In order to prevent a rapid recurrence of symptoms, it is necessary to continue receiving care even though your symptoms are gone.
During the correction / restorative phase of your care, you will not have to receive adjustments as often as you did during the first phase of care and, depending on your particular circumstances, you may begin doing exercises and stretches either at the center or at home to help accelerate your healing.
Do not be discouraged if you have mild flare-ups in your symptoms on occasion. This is normal. Flare-ups are bound to occur during this phase because your body has not fully healed. Depending on the severity of your injury or condition and how long you have been suffering from it, this phase of your care may last anywhere from a few months to a couple of years.
Phase 3: Wellness Care
Once your body has fully healed, it is important to come in for periodic adjustments to avoid problems in the future. Usually, this only requires a quick visit to the chiropractor 1-4 times per month, based on your lifestyle and goals.
Routine chiropractic care can help ensure that your physical problems do not return, and keep your body in optimal condition. Just like continuing an exercise program and eating well in order to sustain the benefits of exercise and proper diet, it is necessary to continue chiropractic care to ensure the health of your musculoskeletal system.
When you make routine chiropractic care a part of your lifestyle, you avoid many of the aches and pains that so many people suffer through, your joints will last longer and you will be able to engage in more of the activities you love.