You made the decision to see a chiropractor for your neck or back pain. You followed the doctor’s treatment recommendations and now your pain is gone, and you are once again able to do the things that you love to do but couldn’t because of your pain. What now?
The answer to that question, of course, is ultimately up to you. Some people choose to discontinue care, assuming that because their pain is gone the have fully healed. Others choose to continue with maintenance care, understanding that maintaining their spinal health is vital to maintaining their overall health.
The underlying problems that cause your neck or back pain have likely been there for several years, quietly worsening with time until you finally hit the point where there is pain. When it comes to spinal problems, pain is usually the last thing to show up and the first to go away. Just because there is no pain now certainly does not mean there are no problems. It just means that the nerves that are capable of sensing pain are not irritated at that time. Only approximately 10% of the nerves in your body are capable of sensing pain. The other 90% control function. So, if you are at the point where there is pain, you likely have had an underlying problem affecting the function of your body for some time.
Why maintenance care?
After your initial chiropractic treatment has concluded and your pain is gone, or at least significantly reduced, your chiropractor is likely to recommend maintenance care. The purpose of maintenance care is just what it sounds like – to maintain the progress that has been achieved. There is a reason why you were in pain in the first place. Daily activities and stresses are likely major causes of the spinal misalignments that caused your pain. If you go back to the habit of neglecting your spinal health, you are likely to end up back where you were when you first made that call to the chiropractor. Let’s look at this by comparing it to wearing braces on your teeth. If you have ever worn braces on your teeth, you probably wore them for at least a few years. Minor adjustments were made over time to achieve the end results. After the braces finally came off, did the orthodontist tell you to call for another round of braces after your teeth get crooked again? ABSOLUTELY NOT! You were given a retainer to maintain that progress. The same principle applies to chiropractic. You may have needed to see the chiropractor for weeks to months, depending on the severity of your problems. When the correction is done, maintenance care is necessary to keep the healing process moving in the right direction and, more importantly, to keep it from backsliding to where you were when you made your first appointment.
What does maintenance care consist of?
Determining what your maintenance care consists of is as broad as the initial care you received. It all depends on what you need to keep your progress moving in the right direction. It is based on your individual needs. Some people will do fine with just periodic adjustments, while others may need to continue with spinal and postural rehabilitation procedures. Others may need spinal decompression as part of their maintenance care. It really depends on how chronic and how severe the underlying condition is in your case. Just like your initial care multiple factors are considered when determining your maintenance care needs. You will likely be given more stretches and exercises to do at home between your appointments as well.
How often will I need to be seen?
This is yet another aspect of maintenance care that depends on your individual condition. Some patients can be seen once per month and do very well with that. Others may need to be seen a couple times per month or even once per week. It depends on several factors, including how long your underlying condition has been there as well as any spinal degeneration you may have. Logically, someone with a more severe problem that has been there for many years, or someone with advanced disc degeneration will need to be seen more often than someone with a relatively healthy spine.
Because everyone’s situation is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to your chiropractic care. This is true for your initial corrective care as well as your maintenance care needs. Your chiropractor is specially trained to give you the best care to get you out of pain and to maintain your spinal health for years to come.