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How Many Times & How Often Do I Have To Go To The Chiropractor?

What if I just hurt for a week or so? Do I have to go to the chiropractor forever?

 

I don't want to spoil the whole discussion but the answer is that typically you do not need to go to the chiropractor a lot. Plain and simple. Stick with me and I will discuss why I say such a thing. 

 

Myths & Misconceptions

There are some misconceptions or myths about chiropractors. A couple of the largest of them are:

  1. Chiropractors want to see you a ton of times
  2. Once you go to a chiropractor, you always have to go

Let's address these

 

Chiropractors Want to See You A Ton Of Times

I think the answer to how many times a chiropractor wants to see you mostly comes down to experience, education, and style of practice.

 

Experience

The longer a chiropractor has been in practice, the more experience they gain. This allows the provider to better understand which patients will do well with minimal work and which will take a little more attention. All things considered, I'm not sure anything in a provider's toolbox trumps good old-fashioned experience. It cannot be bought or traded. Only lived. To simplify the thought process, the less time pain has been around, the easier it is to treat. The longer it's been going on, the more difficult it is to get rid of. 

Most patients can make sense of this idea fairly easily. 

 

Education

Unlike experience, you most certainly can buy education. Some providers simply get out of school and they feel like they have learned all they are going to learn. They are simply unmotivated to further their education so they fall into patterns they learned in school. Patterns that were, in many cases, learned 15-30 or more years ago. This is concerning because research, guidelines, and procedures change with new research and with the changing knowledge that evolves with the research. 

Just think about the medical field; they used to perform the big L's. That stands for:

  1. Lobotomies
  2. Leeches
  3. Letting - as in bloodletting

Now, thanks to research, science, and a willingness to follow the science, there are things like heart transplants, incredibly functional prosthetics, and immunotherapy for cancer patients just to name a few. Not to mention the mRNA vaccine that just came on board during the COVID pandemic. 

In much the same way, other professions, chiropractic included, should continually update their guidelines and treatment as research continues to shed a light on the path going forward. Once upon a time, chiropractors would guide patients into treatment that looked like 3x/week for 6-8 weeks. Followed by 2x/week for the same. Then 1x/week for the same. Before you know it, the patient has gone to the chiropractor for around 50 visits at a cost of $2,000 or more. I recently had a patient in my office that went to the chiropractor every other week for years and years. She came to me in significant pain. If going with that frequency was effective, she would have never needed to come into my clinic. 

Now, with stabilizing and exercise, she's feeling better for the first time in a long time. 

As mentioned, I have patients come in to see me from other chiropractors all of the time. When asked why they are switching care to our clinic, they many times tell me stories that would blow your mind. One of the more common stories includes x-rays, a session where the chiropractor scared them about their health and their future, and then long-term recommendations that included 70 or more visits over the year costing up to $5,000 or more dollars. 

You might think it sounds silly for someone to agree to something like that but the truth is, most of the time, a scripted and rehearsed scare session used normal and average x-ray findings to manipulate them and twist them into compliance. This is not patient-centered and it is most certainly not evidence-based. 

A more evidence-based and patient-centered way to approach patient treatment, the approach used here at Creek Stone Integrated Medical, is to understand that any new condition may take a bit of consistency to get the patient turned around and going in the right direction. Most musculoskeletal conditions just take time. Exercise, physical therapy, balance training, massage, weight training, etc...all these things take time and consistency to reap the fruits of the labor. 

Keeping this in mind, it makes sense to treat injured patients 2-3 times per week for a week or two. Assuming the patient is doing well after the first couple of weeks, I simply go by the phrase, "The better you're feeling, the less I want to see you." All the while engaging the patient in specific and targeted exercise and movement. 

This works because our software tracks our patients and around 80% of them are fully satisfied with their progress and pain relief at the 30-day mark. 

In our view, the winner is the Creek Stone patient.

Not only did they get back to normal, but they did so quickly, inexpensively, and without wasting a lot of time coming to our clinic 70 times through the year. And it turns out that research backs this up. Spinal and joint manipulation, movement, strengthening, encouragement, and education go a long way. Certainly when you are teaching the patient to manage their condition at home; on their own.

Education and science are also showing us that you actually can go to the chiropractor too much and too often. You know this comes from the right place because telling you this does not benefit me whatsoever. To demonstrate why I say this, let me offer an example. Have you ever known someone that pops their own neck? In the beginning, when they first started doing that, it was kind of difficult to make it happen. But after some time of popping their necks repeatedly, it got easier and easier to do. It eventually gets to the point that they can simply turn their heads and it pops. THAT is called instability and it came about because of the continual popping and continual mobilization of joints in the neck. 

Instability can come about naturally through injury or through degenerated, broad-based bulged discs. It can also absolutely come from too many visits, too frequently to a chiropractor that mobilizes the spine over and over and over again. 

Chiropractors need to know clearly when to mobilize and when to stabilize. There are several reasons for patients to have back pain with a disc injury leading the group. Discs are followed by facet joints and pelvic issues. Right in there somewhere is instability. Some research papers estimate as much as 60% of low back issues can be attributed to instability. Assuming this is true, patients with low back issues might need to engage in stability protocols about 60% of the time rather than back popping. 

Research is ongoing with regard to instability so stay tuned.  

Style Of Practice

The style of practice a chiropractor follows will often dictate how often they tell you to come back to see them. Chiropractic is not all that well standardized so there are different styles. Evidence-based, patient-centered chiropractors typically focus on pain and getting their patients out of pain quickly and inexpensively.

The more vitalistic, philosophy-based chiropractors often believe their patients need to be seen weekly or every other week throughout their lifetimes regardless of whether they have any pain or any issue at all. The thought is that doing so will keep the patient healthy and free of dysfunction. Fixing earaches, asthma, and all kinds of maladies. This style of chiropractic includes many visits, very frequently, over a course of a lifetime.

I will let patients make up their own minds about how often they want to be seen and which style is right for them. But I will say that I am a research nerd and I have yet to see any research suggesting any kind of immune system boost from spinal manipulative therapy beyond a small and temporary one. 

  

Once You Go To A Chiropractor, You Always Have To Go

The last thing I will cover is the idea that once you go to a chiropractor, you always have to go. As in....forever and ever amen.

I have no clue where this little myth originated but from the top; it is just not true. A good chiropractor needs to be getting their patients out of pain as quickly and as efficiently as possible while teaching them at-home, self-management techniques so that they learn to depend on themselves rather than any one doctor, clinic, or profession. 

Once again, that is called 'being evidence-based and patient-centered.' Some doctors (chiropractors, dentists, pharmacists, physical therapists, medical doctors, etc..) use tools and words in order to work on patients' minds to convince them that they somehow need their services frequently for a lifetime. Some think that is weekly for life, monthly, or whatever the provider happens to think. 

The truth is, that in healthcare, treatments should have a beginning and they should have an ending. They should not be ongoing for one's lifetime. It is my opinion and my practice style to approach every patient and every condition with a broad-based management approach. That means using the tools we have available to knock out pain quickly and inexpensively.

Some of our tools include accurate diagnosis by a Fellowship-trained, Board-certified, and experienced chiropractor, up-to-date and current medical services, specific and targeted exercise, spinal decompression, low-level laser, massage, acupuncture, and more.

ALL UNDER ONE ROOF - WORKING TOGETHER TO GET YOU OUT OF PAIN 

This approach is backed by evidence and it is in the best interest of our patients. Not only that, it's convenient because all providers are in one buidling.

If you think we can help you, call us here at Creek Stone Integrated Medical at 806-355-3000, and let's get you on the schedule. 

 

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Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM is double Board Certified as a Fellow in Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine and Orthopedics as well as a Fellow in Chiropractic Forensics, 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.  

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Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM

Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM

Owner/Chiropractor

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