Why See a Chiropractor When I Feel Good?
What's the point of seeing a chiropractor even when you don't have any aches or pains?
I’ve already seen the chiropractor. I’m feeling much better! So why should I schedule additional chiropractic appointments? What’s the point?
You are not alone! This is a common question, asked by many patients. In order to understand the answer to this question, you should understand what chiropractic does and what it doesn’t offer. Chiropractic provides many amazing health benefits to your skeleton, muscles, joints, and nervous system. However, chiropractic isn’t the same thing as pain management. (Pain management is a specialized branch of health care that specifically focuses on removing pain.) People remember feeling better after seeing their chiropractor but they may not fully understand why that happened.
What was your first experience with chiropractic? Most likely it was due to pain somewhere in your body or you being injured somewhere. You saw the chiropractor and soon noticed improvement. This led you to associate going to the chiropractor with an ache or pain.
However, the reason you felt much better was because your body received the necessary correction in order to function appropriately. As your body’s structure improved, you may have noticed some of the following changes:
Your skeleton became more symmetrical
Your joints began to move more smoothly
Your experienced an increase in range of motion
Your muscles began to contract more efficiently
You began to experience less inflammation
You began to sleep more comfortably
You started to heal
Your pain may have diminished or disappeared entirely. This is what is noticed first. But much more is going on behind the scenes than eliminating pain. Some people begin to notice improvement after their very first chiropractic visit. For other people, several visits are needed. This depends upon how long a person’s injury or skeletal misalignment has been causing difficulties. The longer you have an untreated injury, the longer it will take for your body to heal and repair. An injury that occurred a few days ago takes much less time to heal than an injury that happened several years ago.
So, you saw the chiropractor. You are feeling better. You’ve almost forgotten about the injury that first brought you to the chiropractor. You may not realize that this is only the first step in the healing process. There are more steps in the healing process besides experiencing relief.
The next step is to schedule some visits with the chiropractor for corrective care. Your next goals should be to gain proper joint function and soft tissue (muscle, tendon, and ligament) recovery. Without appropriate corrective care, you increase your risk of re-injury or relapse. You don’t want for your injured shoulder to become something that flares up several times a year when it can heal more fully. Restoring normal motion and movement is essential to complete corrective care.
The concept of corrective care isn’t unique to chiropractic. If you’ve ever had braces on your teeth, you are probably familiar with this idea. When straightening your teeth, an orthodontist will schedule many visits over an extended period of time. After the braces come off, the orthodontist will fit you with a retainer. This retainer is just as important as the braces were in keeping the teeth straight. In chiropractic, we use maintenance care to keep the body lined up correctly. Without the chiropractic maintenance care, the body will return to its misaligned position.
In orthodontic treatment, the braces are required for corrective care and the retainer is required for wellness care. Chiropractic is similar. In chiropractic, a patient will need focused chiropractic adjustments for corrective care and general skeletal alignment adjustments for wellness (maintenance) care. During chiropractic wellness care, your visits will be spread out so that you are no longer seeing the chiropractor as often. Some people see their chiropractor once a month for wellness care. Your visit frequency will be determined by your chiropractor and will be designed to fit your life, type of career, age, and health history. People with physically demanding or high-stress careers may require more wellness visits per year to stay healthy. A person who is 37 years of age may require more wellness visits to stay strong than someone who is 22 years old.
An important concept to understand is: It is far better to prevent an injury from happening in the first place than to experience an injury and be forced to recover from it. Keep your body strong in order to increase your chance of fighting off illness. This is a difficult concept for some people to fully understand. It’s hard to appreciate the heart attack you never get because you took care of your body.
You can keep your joints and skeleton strong by:
Supplying your body with proper nutrition
Stretching before you exercise / do strenuous activities (like clean the garage)
Staying active through the week
Scheduling regular appointments with your chiropractor
Your chiropractor will pick up on slight changes that you may not notice such as your posture shifting, muscles weakening, and slight limitations to ranges of motion in certain joints. These negative changes can usually be fixed quickly, before they ever start to cause pain. It is far easier for a problem to be corrected when it is brand new and very small. If you’ve waited until pain from your sore back (knee, shoulder, elbow etc.) is interfering with your sleep, then you’ve usually waited much too long before receiving chiropractic treatment.
Be mindful that not all chiropractors are focused on wellness care. If a chiropractor specializes in treating car accident cases, personal injury, or workers comp, they are probably good at reducing pain and helping people with litigation. They are an important part of the healthcare system but they are different from the type of chiropractor whose primary interest is overall wellness.
Therefore, don’t wait for discomfort and soreness to interfere with your life before scheduling a series of appointments with your chiropractor. Even when you’re feeling good, take steps to keep your body strong through chiropractic wellness care.