How Patients Ruin Perfectly Good Chiropractic Care Plans

By Dr. Philip Cordova

January 10, 2022

Ok, maybe that sounds a little harsh, but I can’t help but wonder what kinds of results patients would get if they followed through on the plans we set up for them. I know things come up, priorities change, and you’re doing the best you can with your available finances… but this is a team effort and we want to make sure you get the most from the care plan your chiropractor has set up for you.

1. No communication with their doctor

Our office does things a little differently when patients begin care in our office. We give you a plan. This plan includes the types of treatment we recommend for your problem along with how often you should come in and for how long. Wake up with a crick in your neck? Shorter and simpler plan. Have sciatica for the last ten years and you never exercise and sit all day? You’ll receive a longer and more complicated plan.

Most patients have the same plan for themselves; come in as little as possible and participate as little as possible. However, they don’t necessary tell their doctor their “plan.” Instead, they come in for a few visits and once the pain goes away, they leave… until the pain eventually returns.

It’s your spine and your health, but if you were to tell your doctor something like “I know you said three times per week for the first couple of weeks, but my boss is giving me a hard time and there’s no way I can come in more than twice per week.” Your doctor would then evaluate your situation and would likely make a change that may include twice a week for more weeks or give you some exercises earlier in your care so you could get more aggressive with helping your adjustments last longer.

I promise, we want to work with you to help you get results quickly and then help you keep those results for as long as possible. If there are things you don’t understand, don’t like, or just don’t want to do for whatever reason — please tell us!

This is why you come to a healthcare professional, to get their advice and help. Do you really need to hire a personal trainer? Aren’t there millions of exercises available for free on YouTube? Yes, but the trainer is there to motivate, make adjustments to movements that you may not be doing correctly, to make sure you’re getting the most from your time in the gym, and to help you get the best results based on your level. You don’t have to hire a trainer to work out, but if you do, it makes sense to follow their advice.

Chiropractic care is a lot like hiring a trainer.

We are retraining your muscles of your spine to hold your adjustments longer. We are looking at your x-rays to make decisions about the safest way to care for you. We are seeing your results with the recommended treatment and either changing what we’re doing by increasing in intensity or adjusting how or where we adjust your spine.

We know that in a perfect world, you would get one giant crack of an adjustment that puts everything back into place and you never need another adjustment as long as you live. That’s just not how it works. Anything that involves making changes to your body (exercise, nutrition, stretching, weightlifting, & chiropractic) is more of a “chipping away” at it until you get the result you’re after. Communication is key to getting the most from your chiropractic care.

2. They stop treatment way too early

Let me say again, I’m on your side. I understand that you are busy and once the pain is gone, you will in all likelihood direct your attention to another area of your life that is driving you crazy. While you’re thrilled the migraines have left or your back pain is no longer stopping you from working out, you’ve got other problems that need your attention.

There are chiropractors that will gladly tell you to come in 3 or 4 times and then “come back when the pain comes back.” That’s just not how we do it. We’ve seen patients take that approach, but what happens if they never actually get better. Sure, their pain goes away when they’re getting adjusted, but then they return to their regular activities and it’s just a matter of time before the pain returns.

Then they go back to the chiropractor for another 3 or 4 visits and then they stop again… and then the pain returns again. This process happens over and over again until they make a critical decision. They decide that chiropractic doesn’t work. They need something more invasive. So they visit the orthopedic or neurosurgeon and they have a spinal surgery.

Spinal surgeries are not a guarantee of no longer having pain. They are carry more risk than chiropractic care, and they usually can be avoided.

Let’s go back to the trainer example: if you workout consistently for a little while, you’ll notice some improvement. If you keep working out, you’ll notice more improvement as your body adapts and gets the increasing benefits of consistent exercise. If you stop exercising completely, your body will return to the pre-workout days and you’ll lose most (if not all) of what you gained from working out.

Chiropractic is a lot like that. The longer you continue to get adjusted (although it will be much less frequently), you’ll continue to have results, avoid problems, and see increasing benefits for your efforts. If you stop chiropractic care right after the pain goes away, you may be setting yourself up for future care that will be more costly, have increased risk, and still may not give you the desired result.

Instead, complete your care plan and start incorporating the recommended exercises and stretches we give you along the way. Making changes to your posture and doing movements that counteract any negative daily activities will help you maintain your results for a long time. Then you can come in periodically to support and maintain your results. That brings me to the final way people sabotage their chiropractic care.

3. They don’t do any long-term chiropractic care

Again, I get it! You have a lot of things to focus on and worry about. However, self-care is just too important. I personally took way too long to do anything for myself and my health beyond getting adjusted on a regular basis. My self-care now involves all of the great things we have to offer at CORE Chiropractic (including chiropractic adjustments, spinal decompression, and PEMF therapy). I also get massages, do yoga, CrossFit, and recently started adding in some stretching at StretchLab.

Is this a hassle? Yes. 100%. I wish I could just wake up and go without issue or taking any extra steps. However… that’s just not how it is. I have to take things as they are and not as I wish them to be. The truth is, good health takes my participation and my consistent actions towards its support and maintenance. (If you figure out a way to not doing anything healthy and still be healthy, please let me know.)

The patients I have seen for years do not continue to come see me because they’re in pain.

They do it because they want to maintain their results and they know they regularly do things that are not good for their spine. They understand that driving long distances and sitting at a computer all day take a toll on the body. They know that, despite their best efforts, they continue sleep on their stomach or stare down at their phones for hours. There’s only so much they can control and work on at a time, so getting adjusted once a month is an easy solution to undo some of the bad things that have happened to their spine during the last 30 days.

Communicate with your doctor about any issues, complete your care plan, and then find a maintenance schedule you can include in your self-care routine. Your spine and health will thank you!

Dr. Philip Cordova

About the author

Dr. Philip Cordova is a chiropractor in Houston, Texas. He grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and decided to become a chiropractor after hurting his back as a teenager and getting help from chiropractic care. He is speaker on health & posture. Click Here To Read His Full Bio

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