“How often should I see a chiropractor?” I hear this all the time, and the answer is that it depends. It depends on how healthy you are in general. It depends on how severe any of your injuries are. It depends on what you are looking for in your health goals. When I am asked this question, I start a discussion with my practice members about all those topics and we decide together what works best for them. One of the topics that I always bring up is Maintenance care, which is what we are going to talk about today.
This is what I thought when I heard about maintenance care the first time.
Maintenance care. The first time I heard about it as a new chiropractic patient I thought it was a scam. I thought, “This is how the chiropractor gets me to pay his bills forever.” So, as a new patient, I didn’t do it. My first chiropractic adjustment was followed by months of manual labor with no follow-up visits or focused exercises for my concern. Since my first adjustment back in 2014, I have changed my mind concerning maintenance care due to what I have learned about how the body functions. Now my personal chiropractic regimen consists of getting adjusted 2-3x per month and prescribing myself focused exercises. Let’s talk about the things I learned that changed my mind.
My old mindset
I am a tough farm kid, whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, rub some dirt in it, walk it off no pain no gain. These were all very familiar phrases growing up, especially with two little brothers. We were always in competitions with each other trying to see who was the toughest. Needless to say, there were many trips to the ER for stitches and casts. We always seemed to bounce back just fine. Then I started working for the forest service as a firefighter as well as construction jobs. I used my body very hard and always thought it would be able to cope with whatever challenge I threw at it. Until one day my body said no and for months I couldn’t function normally at work or home. So I went to a chiropractor (eventually) and after I was adjusted and feeling better that was it, I didn’t see a chiro anymore. I utilized the chiropractic adjustment as like ibuprofen or something for the pain not knowing the benefits that come from a well-adjusted spine.
My new mindset
I don’t care how long I live, I do care about how well I live. I recognize now that my actions affect how well I live each day. If I eat healthily then I function better. If I eat junk, I feel like junk. If I exercise then I adapt better. If I am lazy, I feel more like a potato than a human being. If I get a good night’s sleep I feel more connected and focused in my world. If I don’t then I am lost to the world in a haze of sleepiness. When I get checked by my chiropractor I feel my body’s ability to adapt improve. When I don’t get checked and adjusted I feel like I am fighting an uphill battle. The choices I make every day affect how I feel and how well I respond to my environment. These choices also affect my long-term health. I know that what I do now will affect how well I live in the future and so I decide to treat myself well now so in the future I will be grateful and I can continue to live a life I love.
What does maintenance care look like?
When a practice member is considering getting onto a maintenance care plan this question is inevitable. How many times should I get adjusted? The answer is that it depends. It depends on a bunch of things. It depends on how healthy an individual is, how much exercise and movement they get, how their diet is, how well they can keep up with the recommendations they get from their chiropractor, how much stress they’re in, what their work situation is like and the list goes on. All boiled down the answer depends on how much trauma an individual experiences daily. When I say trauma I am talking about anything that has a negative effect on the individual for example a car accident is considered macro trauma and poor posture is considered micro trauma. Stress is trauma and bad food choices can be traumatic as well. Every individual is different. I get checked 3-4 times a month. I am healthy and active most of the time but I feel like I am carrying a fair amount of stress currently so I get checked to help my body adapt to the trauma I experience. For more information about trauma check out this article.
As a quick side note, I want you to notice that I wrote that I get “checked” 3-4 Times a month. When I get checked by a chiropractor the doctor is checking to see if I need an adjustment or not. Sometimes I get checked and I don’t need an adjustment. This happens often when individuals take their health into their own hands and make large strides towards healing on their own. The days when I get checked and I don’t need an adjustment are days of celebration. My body is adapting well and my health is improving!
Let’s make a few comparisons
How often do you go to the dentist? In my experience, the answer to that question is “not often enough”. Somehow, we know that we need maintenance work on our teeth. Why don’t we maintain other parts of our bodies like this? As a chiropractor I know I have a bias towards spinal maintenance care but with great consequence. Every function that our body carries out for us is tied to the spine. Without your spine, you would not be able to use those pearly whites you know you need to maintain. Let’s normalize maintaining work on all parts of the body. Especially our foundation, the Spine.
You only get one body to treat it well.
Another question I like to ask people is this If you were only allowed to buy one car your whole life how would you treat that car? Most people respond with “routine maintenance” or “I would drive it nice and easy” and “I would even buy premium fuel!” We only get one body, Why don’t we do regular maintenance on it? Why don’t we buy the premium fuel and really take care of it? This body is your only body, treat it well.
What does the research say?
That is a great question. In 2018 there was a study done among 328 individuals with a low back pain concern. Half the group was put on a maintenance care plan and the other half was put on a symptom-based plan. At the end of 1 year the symptom-based individuals who called their chiropractors when symptoms returned reported 13 more days of low back pain on average when compared to the maintenance group. The interesting thing about this study is that on average the maintenance care group only had 1.7 more office visits than the symptom-based group over the course of the year. This means, in order to have 2 weeks less of low back pain this group only had to be adjusted about 2 times more over the course of the entire year when compared to the symptom-based group. This is the beginning of the research around maintenance care but it looks promising. Next time you’re at the chiropractic office in Juneau, ask me about maintenance care. I would love to share more information about the topic.
We look forward to meeting you! Come down to Happy Family Chiropractic and meet your Chiropractor in Juneau! It will be our pleasure in serving you high quality chiropractic care.