When patients first enter our office, their main concern is almost always to get out of pain as fast as possible. However as a chiropractor, my goal is to not only get patients better as quickly as possible, but to also keep them better for a long time. In order to accomplish this, it is important that patients understand that there are three separate phases that our bodies undergo during the healing process.
To begin the healing process, the first phase is designed to alleviate most pain as fast as possible. During this phase, we find a bone out of place that is putting pressure on to a nerve. This is the root cause of pain. As a chiropractor, the main goal during this phase is to remove nerve pressure as fast as possible. We usually find that this phase takes between 2-4 weeks, depending on the patient.
Once we have a patient out of most of their pain, we move on to the second phase. We usually refer to this as the corrective phase. At this time, we find that the patient still has a bone out of place, we have just removed enough of the pressure from the nerve so that they are feeling better. During this phase we are attempting to correct the misalignment as much as we can. This phase can be thought of like braces on teeth. Like braces, it takes time to make a correction to the spine. This phase generally takes the longest to complete. We also find if patients choose to stop treatment before this phase is complete, they typically begin experiencing the same symptoms at a later time.
The third and final phase of the healing process is usually referred to as stabilization. In this phase, not only is the patient out of pain, but we have also corrected the spine as much as possible. The main objective in this phase is to make sure that we strengthen the correction so that your spine is able to remain in its proper position. Since the second phase is commonly compared to as braces on teeth, this phase is very similar to a retainer. If you don’t wear the retainer, you will lose your correction. Unlike the first two phases, this phase does not require us to see patients as often since the spine is stronger and able to hold its proper position for a longer period of time.
Once the above three phases are completed, we usually recommend that patients continue with chiropractic care on a maintenance basis. For most patients, this is an adjustment once a month to ensure that their spine is staying in the proper position and that all of the joints are moving properly. We find that patients who maintain their spine tend to stay better for much longer periods and don’t have to worry about their pain returning.
I hope this post has helped you realize that while chiropractors want to get you out of pain as soon as possible, our main concern is that we not only patch the problem, but we also correct it, so that you don’t have to worry about the pain returning later.