It is important to understand the stages of chiropractic care because they are unique relative to those of other health-care disciplines. Because chiropractic addresses core physiological and biomechanical aspects of the body, the process to correct problems without drugs or surgery can take some time. Some conditions can be treated in a few visits, while others may take longer.
The following is a brief summary of the three major phases of chiropractic care.
Relief Care: The majority of patients consult a chiropractor because they have an ache or pain. In the first phase of care, the main objective is to eliminate or reduce your discomfort and stabilize your condition in the shortest amount of time. During this phase, progress is usually rapid. The number of times you visit a chiropractor during this phase of care varies and is dependent upon your specific condition.
Rehabilitative Care: Once your condition has stabilized, you enter the second phase of care, where the objective is to correct any underlying injury or cause of discomfort, strengthen the muscles, and improve neuromusculoskeletal function. The frequency of office visits is reduced over a period of two to six weeks.
It is important to remember that many of the conditions for which people seek care have developed over many years; therefore, correcting these problems is a true rehabilitative process. It helps to understand that it takes time to correct these conditions.
Once your discomfort has subsided, you may think all is well and choose to abandon your efforts. However, if you end your care before fully healing of the muscles and soft tissues, you can invite a relapse. This is a mistake many people make, and it sets them up for recurring health issues.
Wellness Care: You then "graduate" to the wellness phase, which is designed to maintain your improved health, encourage normal spinal function, prevent the return of the original condition, and catch small problems before they become serious. A personal wellness care program will be designed specifically for you.
A good way to look at chiropractic is to relate it to dentistry. We all know it takes a long time to develop tooth decay, but with regular maintenance and check-ups, the plaque doesn't have a chance. Similarly, it often takes a long time to develop a spinal problems. But with a regular schedule of chiropractic check-ups, the spine will not have a chance to malfunction.
You can then congratulate yourself on achieving your ultimate goal: optimal health!