"If you ever go to a chiropractor, you'll have to keep going forever."
This statement is shared anecdotally in an endless number of variations, all with the same core concept: chiropractic treatments, once begun, must be maintained for life. Is this really true?
One of the most common questions from patients new to chiropractic care is related to the duration of treatments, and answers to that question will vary with each patient who asks. Everyone is unique, with a unique set of needs and complications. The patient visiting for chronic migraines may not require the same treatment as someone injured in a car accident, for instance.
Talking to a Care Provider About Chiropractic Treatments
Ideally, a chiropractor will take a full history before a thorough exam. They'll need to know as much as possible about your condition before they can propose a treatment plan, let alone set an expected duration for one. True patient-based treatment requires a specialized plan tailored to the unique needs of each patient. Most of the time, these treatment plans will be based on the goals you and your chiropractor hope to reach in terms of pain relief and addressing the root cause of a problem.
It's also a good idea to ask a chiropractorabout their technique and approach to treatment. Some care providers prefer a gentler approach resulting in gradual relief, while others are more forceful in order to obtain quicker results. Which is right for you will depend upon your preference and comfort level, but the style of the practitioner you work with will also play a role in determining how long treatment plans will take to fully execute.
Because chiropractic treatments are so individualized, it's wise to be wary when a chiropractor tells you exactly how many treatments you'll need at an initial meeting.
The Importance of Home Instruction and Exercise
While your chiropractor obviously plays a large role in your treatment plan, you may be surprised to learn how much is ultimately up to you. When your chiropractor sends you home with information on exercises and treatments you can complete at home, it's vital to actually do them. By taking an active role in your treatment, you can aid in the healing process, so your treatment plan is fulfilled as quickly as possible. Once you’ve reached the goals you’ve set with your chiropractor, you’ll be able to discuss the follow-up and maintenance plan right for you.
The key takeaway is that you probably won’t need long-term care plans, but you will need to understand that wellness through chiropractic treatments is a process. By the time most patients make it to a chiropractor, they’re usually dealing with years of compensatory habits and compounding problems that take time to address. Along the way, they’ll be helping you to change the habits you’ve developed as a result of trying to manage your pain. This includes everything from poor posture to unhealthy movement patterns developed as a result of problems with the spine.
Working closely with a knowledgeable chiropractor can help you find relief, but the timeline will be different for every patient.