Yesterday when a practice member asked me how long it will take her to get better, it struck me that this is one of the most frequently asked questions we get. Going along with it usually is the next question, “How often will I need to come in?” These are really important questions and people are sometimes surprised by the answer.
Let’s think about the first part of the question. When she asks how long until she’s better, what she really means is, “When will I feel better?” But those two things are not the same. After all, being better is not the same as feeling better. For example, many people initially seek care because they are hurting and it’s understandable that they want to feel good, as soon as possible. Most have already been trying things for their hurts. They’ve taken pain remedies and when those didn’t work they tried other remedies. Then they went to their physician and were given more powerful remedies. The problem is that they feel better, but when the drug wears off they’re right back where they started, or perhaps even worse from the effects of the medications. Chiropractic isn’t like that. Instead of trying to help someone feel better, it helps a person function better. (click this link to see a documentary that explains how an adjustment helps the body function better.)
There’s a big difference between feeling better and functioning better. A key difference is that feeling better doesn’t necessarily mean that a problem is solved. You can feel better on a pain drug even when you’re getting worse. On the other hand, when the body begins to function properly, then its inherent ability to heal goes to work. After healing takes place, there’s no longer a need for pain, and unlike taking a drug, it’s a lasting change.
As a health care provider it’s my goal to provide the highest quality care possible. That’s why we never try to just help someone feel better. Instead we always try to help them function better. That brings us back to the original question, “How long will it take?” To answer that, let’s consider the real question. Remember, it’s not about how soon pain will be gone, but instead it’s about getting function right (and keeping it that way). We know that whenever a person successfully receives a precise spinal adjustment they’re already better. Better because an adjustment gets rid of nerve interference restoring their body’s ability to function. Then the question changes. It becomes how to keep the interference out of the way. It turns out that good function isn’t a short-term matter. How long would a person want to eat wholesome food, drink pure water, or breathe clean air? The same is true of any of the building blocks of good health. How long should we stay in good physical condition? If healthful exercise brings us into a better situation, would that be the time to quit doing it? What about the other forms of good hygiene? Would we only brush our teeth when they hurt, or only bathe when we feel poorly?
Getting one’s spine checked for subluxation is basically good hygiene and it shouldn’t be something we do only when we hurt. Nerve interference can be present for long periods of time without causing any obvious symptoms. That’s why we encourage people to use their chiropractic care wisely. For how long? That’s the easiest part to answer. We should continue to receive periodic chiropractic evaluations for as long as we want to function well. Is there ever a time when we really want to experience less than our best? I’ve never encountered a case where someone was too old or too young to benefit from having good nerve supply.
It’s your chiropractor’s job to monitor how well you hold your adjustments and to give recommendations to get you checked often enough that if and when you get subluxated, it is caught and corrected soon. Ultimately this approach helps you live as free of vertebral subluxations as possible.