This was a question a patient asked me the other day.
Well, basically it will depend from which paradigm you operate from. If you are like the majority of the world that have been indoctrinated into the medical paradigm you’ll see a chiropractor only when the symptom(s) get bad enough and virtually force you to do something to get rid of the pain.
The medical model is really a ‘symptom driven’ model; it’s reactive. Imagine going to your medical doctor and saying, ‘You know what, Doc, I feel absolutely fantastic. I’ve got boundless energy, feel totally motivated, don’t feel the slightest bit of stress. I’m the fittest I’ve ever been, tummy works great, I have a really healthy diet, my relationship is 100% and financially I’m totally sorted. All I really want is for you to make sure I stay that way!’
Well, in all probability, the doctor will be lost for words. That’s because medical doctors deal with sickness, not health. In their entire medical training they spend about 5 minutes on preventative health care!
The medical model is patient exclusive. In other words, you go to the doctor when you have symptoms, he evaluates the symptoms and if they fit with a particular diagnosis he tells you, ‘you have ‘X’‘ and then prescribes a tablet to suppress the symptom. Usually, the doctors parting words are, ‘if these don’t work, come back and see me again and I prescribe something else’.
The other paradigm of course is the wellness paradigm. This is the model that preaches prevention, rather than cure. It’s a health rather than sickness driven paradigm and definitely a patient inclusive paradigm. This means that the patient is required to be part of the solution; take responsibility.
Now, if this is the model that you subscribe to then the best time to see the chiropractor is BEFORE the symptoms occur. This usually means considering a spinal maintenance program, which would mean seeing the chiropractor once every 4 – 6 weeks to maintain spinal joint mobility and flexibility, and reduce the build up of muscular spasm.
The most common problem that people will see a chiropractor for is mechanical lower back pain and the bad news about mechanical lower back pain is that it’s not curable. It is, however, very manageable.
I say not curable because there are many things that contribute to mechanical lower back pain including trauma, posture, stress, previous accidents and injuries, genetics, your activity (or lack of activity) level – in fact as I usually say to my patients, ‘It’s called life!’.
Chiropractic is by far the modality of choice when it comes to managing mechanical lower back pain. The chiropractor will usually recommend certain stretching and strengthening exercises to compliment the chiropractic treatment (that’s the patient inclusive part!) as well.
If prevention is not really your thing, then please heed this warning. As soon as you become aware of even the slightest amount of discomfort, the slightest twinge, make an appointment to see your chiropractor. If you’ve never seen a chiropractor before, then get Googling for one near you. The one thing I hear most often in the clinic is, ‘I thought it would go away’.
The mechanical problems affecting the neck or lower back often start slowly. Mild at first, making you think that it’s not that serious, but more often than not the problem will get worse and at some point you’ll be forced to see a chiropractor.
There’s a lot of truth in the old saying, ‘prevention is better than cure’. Get a check up sooner rather than later to avoid what could be a prolonged healing process.