3 Types of Care
Question: Dear Dr Harvey
I've been to a few different chiropractors. Some treat me only when I'm in pain, then once I'm out of pain; they tell me to come back when it hurts. Some want to treat me even when I'm out of pain for months. Others recommend life time care for me and my family. Could you explain these different approaches and what you do in your clinic?
In our clinic, one of the first questions we ask our patients during the consultation is – what are their health care goals? Some people come in with a specific pain. They want that pain treated and when the pain is gone – that's all they want. They will come back when it hurts again. Other people come in with a good understanding of chiropractic care, and they want lifetime care for themselves and their families. Most people come in not really sure of what they want or what their choices really are.
This is why we try to educate the patients as much as possible in regards to what their choices are. Then we let the patients decide which form of care they will pursue relative to their own personal health-care goals.
Basically, there are three types of care. In our clinic we explain these three types of care in detail using DVD’s, hand-outs, and reports of findings. It is then up to the patient to make an educated choice about his or her care. The three types of care are as follows:
1. Initial Intensive Care - This phase of care is to relieve you of the symptoms that brought you to the clinic. The goal is to relieve or reduce your major complaint, and to begin stabilizing your vertebral subluxation complex. This phase of care may take only a few visits, or may last for months. It depends on the severity of your symptoms, how long you've had the problem, your age, your lifestyle, etc. This phase of care requires frequent visits to realign the vertebrae far enough to reduce or remove the symptoms. This is only where Chiropractic care begins
2. Reconstructive Care - This phase of care is to restore the normal alignment of the spine, thereby reducing as much as possible any pressure on your nervous system. The goal here is to return the spine to as normal a state as possible for the individual, and then to stabilize it from there. This helps to keep the original problem from returning. It is very important to get the spine in its best possible alignment to slow the degenerative process of the spine. A misaligned spine will degenerate much faster and lead to a number of problems down the road. This phase of care may last from months to years. A good analogy is that of braces on teeth which may take 1-5 years. The spine, which is far more complex than your teeth, takes time to change. Visits are less frequent here than during initial care.
3. Maintenance Care - This phase of care is to maintain the progress you have made during the first 2 phases of care. The goal here is to maintain the current condition of your spine and to keep it functioning at its maximum. Maintenance care lasts the rest of your life. It becomes part of your normal health care like exercise or taking vitamins. Once you have your nervous system and spine working at its best - how long should you maintain it? – Always! Frequency of visits here depends on your lifestyle, stress level, age, etc.
The analogy we use here is – when are your teeth clean enough that you don't need to brush them anymore? Or, when have you exercised enough that you don't need to again? When you look at lifetime chiropractic maintenance care in this light, it makes perfect sense!
In conclusion, our approach is to educate patients as to the different types of care. It is then their responsibility to select the type of care that best suits their health-care goals. We find that educated patients who participate in making decisions, and take responsibility for the choices they make, tend to get better results. Your health care is your choice. Try to make the most educated choice that you can.
©2009 Dr. Harvey