Since October is Spinal Health Month, I thought I would share some thoughts on the best way that you can possibly keep your spine healthy for the rest of your life, chiropractic maintenance. We have to take care of, or maintain, the things that are most important to us.
Hopefully, you maintain your car, your house, and the relationships that are the most important to you. Anything that has value, typically must be maintained or protected in some way. Your spine is really no different. Your spine can be overlooked because we often don’t even think about our health until it starts to malfunction. You don’t realize how much you use your back until it hurts.
Chiropractic maintenance care is continued regular chiropractic care after finishing a prescribed care plan. Getting on a chiropractic treatment plan is what will allow you to get to a point of maintenance, as opposed to “getting cracked” from time to time whenever your back hurts.
This allows chiropractors to make sure the spine is staying in its proper position and ensure that it is moving correctly. It also enables us to find problems before they can cause any issues. For most, maintenance care is usually an adjustment about once a month, although some prefer to continue getting adjustments on a slightly more regular basis.
Of course, chiropractic maintenance only works if you’ve already corrected and stabilized any existing subluxations, or spinal misalignments.
I often have patients come into the office with pain, however they only want to come in once a month for “maintenance.” If you’re already in pain, it’s not maintenance care. It is important to first complete a care plan recommended by your chiropractor before you begin your maintenance adjustments.
Not convinced maintenance care is necessary? Need more evidence to prove it to you? A recent study separated 60 patients with lower back pain into three separate groups. One group received sham chiropractic care, or fake adjustments. Another group was treated with proper adjustments over the course of six weeks, but did not undergo any care after that. The final group went through the same six weeks of care as the second group, however they were also adjusted every two weeks over the next nine months.
The results proved what chiropractors have been telling their patients for over 100 years.
The first group that received the sham therapy did not experience any significant change in symptoms. The second group showed improvement over the course of the six weeks of care, however reported an increase in symptoms over the next nine months without care. The final group reported the same improvement over the first six weeks, but also showed that the improvement lasted over the next nine months, due to maintenance care.
I often use two comparisons to help explain the importance of chiropractic maintenance. The first is getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist every six months. Those that keep up with regular dental cleaning have fewer cavities than those who only see the dentist once they are in pain. The other comparison I use is changing the oil in your car. Changing your oil every 3000 miles helps improve engine performance and also keeps the engine from breaking down. Chiropractic maintenance works in the same way.
So remember, as a chiropractor, my goal isn’t to get you out of pain for just a few weeks or months. I want to keep you out of pain for the rest of your life. I still love the line “take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.”