Question: Dear Dr. Harvey,
I have been considering going to a chiropractor for some time now. I've been having a lot of low back pain and have tried painkillers, physical therapy and massage. Yet I have not received any relief. I would like to start, but have heard that once you start going to a chiropractor you have to keep going the rest of your life, is this true?
Not a week goes by that I am not asked this question in my practice. It is what I refer to as a "chiropractic myth." There are many misconceptions about chiropractic care, and this is a very common one. A similar concern is that if you get adjusted a lot, your spine will become "loose" and then you will always need care. Or that too many adjustments will give you arthritis in your spine. None of these "myths" are true and none of them have any research to substantiate them.
As to your original question - I believe that you should go to a chiropractor your whole life, but that has to be your choice. Let me explain in more detail.
In my clinic we do a great deal of education which includes videos, handouts, report of findings and various lectures, to name a few. We find that the educated patient makes a better patient and always gets better results! Remember, the word doctor means teacher.
We educate our patients so that they can make educated decisions in regards to their health care and their health care goals.
A very important thing to understand about chiropractic is that there are three main types of care.
Acute or crisis care - to relieve a specific pain or symptom, such as low back pain. This type of care may only take a few visits or it may take weeks or even months. It depends on the severity of the condition, the age of the patient, how long the problem has been there, and numerous other factors.
Reconstructive care - to restore the normal alignment of the spine. The goal in reconstructive care is to get the structure of the spine to function at its maximum with the least amount of pressure on the nervous system. This type of care may take months or even years. A good analogy of this type of care is to compare it to braces on teeth, which may take two to five years.
Maintenance care or wellness care - the goal here is once we have the spine in the best possible shape, now we should maintain that maximum function for the rest of your life? Absolutely, yes!
Many of our patients have difficult health care goals. Our job is to educate you so that you make the choice that is right for you. Then we respect that decision. If your goal is to simply get out of pain and come in only when it hurts - fine. If your goal is lifetime care for you and your family to keep their nervous systems functioning at their maximum - great.
In conclusion, you only have to keep going to a chiropractor for a long time if it is your choice. Some people take vitamins their whole life or exercise their whole life. It is a matter of personal choice. I have chosen lifetime care for myself and my family and we are healthier because of it.
To learn more about Chiropractic please take some time and read through this site. You will find a wealth of information that will help you and your family. If you have any questions please go to Ask the Doctor and send in your question.
©2009 Dr. Harvey