Can You Go To The Chiropractor Too Much??
Amarillo chiropractor talks about it
I can tell you countless stories of patients that came into my office hopeless and in despair, yet, through the wonders of chiropractic care, went on to lead very productive lives. They were able to literally add years to their lifetime. That's about as big as you can get.
Let me share a story to demonstrate what I am talking about.
One patient, we'll call him Earl, came to see me years ago. He was approaching being elderly but already had the lack of capability and activity level of a very elderly patient. He couldn't rollover. He could hardly even lay down much less be pushed on with any amount of real pressure. He had lost the ability to play horseshoes, which he loved doing. He couldn't play with his grandkids and it was beating him up emotionally as well as physically. He was a lifelong smoker and just a sad guy when I met him.
Earl committed to coming to see me consistently for a couple of months and the results were eye-opening. Even for a young chiropractor that didn't yet realize how much he could help people.
Fast forward a couple of years, Early came to see me consistently for a couple of months and then quickly transitioned into a maintenance/wellness patient. That means he pretty much just came to see me whenever he needed me which turned out to be every 1-2 months or so. Earl did beautifully. He started playing cornhole, he started playing Wii with his grandkids, he stopped smoking, he started going for walks, and he started bringing us garden vegetables and showing kindness and love to the staff whenever he showed up. He went from being in the dumps and unable to take a meaningful part in his life to be active, fun, and kind to everyone around him.
Earl eventually got older and ultimately passed away. Which was just a terrible day for us when we found out. But, one of the last times I saw Earl, he said something to me that will stick with me the rest of my life. He said, "You may not realize it, but you saved my life. If I hadn't come to see you when I did, and you hadn't helped me turn things around, I was about to die way back then. I've gotten to live longer than I ever thought I'd be able to."
Now, I don't tell you this story so that anyone will think I'm extra special. I would guess most chiropractors have stories like this they are happy to reminisce about. And, patients don't always recognize the role they play in the scenario. If he hadn't made the decision to do something, and then stick with it, and then stop smoking, and then get active with his grandkids, and all of that good stuff, then he wouldn't have seen much improvement either. The patient is usually more to blame than any doctor when they decide they are going to jump in and be a good teammate in the recovery process.
Earl and I got to be fairly close so his is always one of my favorites but trust me when I tell you that there are so many more I could bore you with when you consider I've now been in practice over 23 years.
My whole aim in telling Earl's story was to demonstrate that chiropractic has the potential to have a truly profound effect on someone's life, their enjoyment of their life, and their lifespan. Not only that but it affects the people around them too, right? Relationships are improved when you're able to spend quality, fun time with your loved ones rather than avoiding any activity because you're always in pain or depressed because you can't move very well. That just makes sense.
Back to the original question, "Can you go to the chiropractor too much??
The answer is, "Yes, absolutely!"
There are many thoughts on this and most of the time they are conflicting. The conflict is going to be due to different styles of practice, different beliefs about the philosophy of what is happening when a chiropractor works on a patient, and different opinions on what a patient should be doing throughout their lifetimes with regard to chiropractic treatment.
I'll say this plainly and simply, I don't typically deal in beliefs. I prefer to deal with research, evidence, and experience. All three say that yes, you can definitely go too much, and teaching at-home, self-treatment strategies is the way to handle our patients.
The first, biggest concern for me when it comes to going to a chiropractor too often is INSTABILITY. Some folks have an incredible range of motion already. Their joints are hyper-mobile. Like rubber band people. Most of these patients have a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos. Every joint in their body are usually looser and more mobile than the regular person's joints. If most chiropractors mobilize and loosen joints, does it make sense to a stretchy person to go regularly to mobilize their joints when they're already very much mobile and moveable?
Research has been pretty clear in suggesting that hypermobile folks do better with STABILITY for their joints. Stability is created with strength training and weight lifting activities. These activities tighten the joints and stabilize them rather than mobilizing them. Many hypermobile people went to one chiropractor after another chiropractor and were continually mobilized but only found improvement when we changed the thought process and programming and started stiffening the joints instead. These people can definitely go to the chiropractor too much. To find out if you're hypermobile and may have Ehlers-Danlos, visit https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/assessing-joint-hypermobility/ and give it a try yourself!
Next, let's discuss self-adjustors. This is the person you see always popping their backs or popping their necks all of the time. From experience, I can share with you that when a person first starts trying to pop their own neck, it is a bit of a task to accomplish. It's kind of hard to do. Then, as they do it more and more, it gets easier and easier. To the point that they only have to turn their head to make it pop. Sometimes, any sharp movement will elicit a pop.
Not only do they start hearing the popping more often, but they also typically start to have more and more discomfort. That is because the instability allows more movement within the joints. More movement means more rubbing twisting, forces, and things like that. All of that leads to more nagging stiffness and chronic pain. In fact, your spine likes stiffness and stability so when instability is introduced to the smaller spiderweb of muscles surrounding the spinal column, the larger postural muscles respond by stiffening in an attempt to compensate for the instability. Essentially, you wind up with a loose back or neck that feels stiff.
Now let's move that scenario from the realm of a self-adjustor and into the context of a person that goes to the chiropractor three times per week for 2 months. Or maybe the schedule is once per week for their entire life. What constitutes 'too many visits' for one person won't be the same for another but you get the point here. If the regular person goes all of the time and goes consistently, there is a good chance they are actually creating, or making worse, the problems they're trying to get fixed.
A good evidence-based, patient-centered chiropractor should know when to mobilize vs. when to stabilize. They should be engaging the patient in shorter, effective, and targeted treatment plans built to the patient's specific issues. In addition, your chiropractor should be teaching you at-home, self-management strategies to control discomfort so that you are more dependent on yourself and not dependent long-term on any doctor's office or clinic.
THAT'S powerful for patients.
Not only that, but it's also effective for patients.
Speaking in broad generalities, if a patient is showing no significant improvement after a short trial treatment period of three times a week for a couple of weeks, we either need to change what we are doing, or we need to find someone that can help them.
At least that's how I see, that's what I've seen to be highly effective, and that's what research and guidelines tell us to do.
Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM is a Fellowship-trained Neuromusculoskeletal specialist, Orthopedic specialist, and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast (https://www.chiropracticforward.com). Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected] Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at https://www.amarillochiropractor.com.
Dr. Williams was voted Best Chiropractor In Amarillo in the Best of Amarillo 2020. Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Care at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109. If you are searching for a chiropractor near me, Dr. Williams is your Amarillo Chiropractor.