One of the complaints you will often hear about chiropractors sounds like this, “Once you go, you always have to go.” The ironic thing is that it’s more common to hear that complaint from someone who has never actually gone to a chiropractor instead of someone who has. If you talk to someone who goes to or has gone to a chiropractor, they will tell you the statement “Once you go, you always have to go” is simply untrue. The chiropractor doesn’t show up at your house looking for you if you miss an appointment. Your spine doesn’t have a self-destruct sequence that gets triggered if you discontinue chiropractic care. That’s silly. Even if you ask a chiropractor, they will tell you the same thing. No…you don’t always have to go to the chiropractor if you don’t want to. I was a practising chiropractor for 9 years. I can tell you from personal experience, patients quit care all the time. Some quit because they feel better. Some quit because they don’t feel better. Some quit because they are quitters. The bottom line is you don’t have to go to the chiropractor if you don’t want to, and no one can make you. But let’s not stop there. Let’s figure out where this, “Once you go, you always have to go” complaint comes from. Personally, I believe it’s just a big misunderstanding. The general public isn’t familiar with the different ways that people can use chiropractic care. If someone assumes people only need a chiropractor when they are doubled over in pain, they may also assume anyone who’s not doubled over in pain and going to the chiropractor is being taken advantage of. Both of those assumptions are incorrect, but people don’t know what they don’t know. That’s our fault as chiropractors. Historically, we have done a bad job of explaining the different ways to use chiropractic care in a way that makes sense to people. As a result, there are some people out there just who won’t go to a chiropractor. There are other people out there who go to a chiropractor but don’t get the most out of their care. I’m going to do my best to help remedy those problems. My goal is to encourage you to try chiropractic if you haven't ever done so and to help you get the most out of your chiropractic care if you have. Here we go. There are three basic ways that people can use chiropractic care: short-term, long-term and wellness. These categories aren’t unique to chiropractic. The same three categories exist in the world of exercise. In fact, the ways people can use exercise and the ways people can use chiropractic are so similar, I’m going to use exercise as an example to help you better understand chiropractic care. Short-term care: The most common way that people use exercise is short-term exercise. Swimsuit season sneak up on you? New Year's resolution? Single again? Training for a marathon? Got your wedding coming up? Better go to the gym.
In the same way, the most common way that people use a chiropractor is for short-term care. Hurt your back? Got into a car accident? Headache? Neck and shoulders are tight? Go to the chiropractor. It makes perfect sense. Short-term chiropractic care and short-term exercise are designed to meet a specific need. They aren’t supposed to be long-term fixes to chronic problems. They aren’t meant to be a lifestyle change. Going to a chiropractor with a chronic issue and hoping to fix it in 1 or 2 visits is sort of like being 75 lb. overweight and hoping to lose it after a week of going to the gym. The best trainers in the world can’t get that done. It’s not realistic. That’s not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t use a chiropractor for short-term care. There is nothing wrong with that if it’s what you need. It’s important to make sure your goals line up with your actions. If you try to fix a long-term problem with short-term care, you are just going to be frustrated. Long-term care: A lot of people who start exercising for shortterm benefits will stick with it long-term once they have experienced the upside. Exercise becomes a lifestyle, not just something they do for a month or two. Maybe they like how they feel. They like how they look. They are sleeping better. They are able to get off their medicine. Regardless of the reason, there are plenty of benefits to long-term exercise, and many people choose to make it a part of their life. The same is true about chiropractic. A lot of people who start short-term chiropractic care will end up using chiropractic longterm. Maybe it’s because of how good they feel when they go to the chiropractor. Maybe their problem is more serious than they originally thought. Maybe their daily activities put a lot of wear and tear on their body. The possibilities are endless. I would even throw myself into this category. I have struggled with back pain and headaches off and on since I was a teenager. I started care with a chiropractor thinking that one or two adjustments would be all I needed. No, you don’t have to become a chiropractor like I did to experience all the benefits. It just turns out long-term chiropractic care was a better fit for me. It has kept me virtually pain-free for almost two decades now. I’m thankful for that. Wellness care: Have you ever met a health nut? Are you a health nut? You know who I’m talking about. It’s the type of person who eats clean and exercises just for the sake of eating clean and exercising. They aren’t sick. They aren’t fat. They aren’t in pain. They aren’t training for an upcoming event. They just exercise because they want to be healthy and reach their maximum potential. Sickening, isn’t it? Well, chiropractic has it’s share of health nuts too. Maybe your chiropractor is a chiropractic health nut. They are the type of person who isn’t in pain. They aren’t concerned about anything in particular. They just know that a healthy spine is part of a healthy life. They want to stay mobile and active for as long as possible, and they want to reach their fullest health potential. So they make ongoing chiropractic care a part of their wellness lifestyle. Just like there is a place for wellness exercise, there is a place for wellness chiropractic. Is it for everyone? No…of course not. Besides, most people aren’t health nuts. Is it for some people? Yes…absolutely. Wellness chiropractic patients are often the biggest advocates of chiropractic in the same way that wellness exercisers will rave about the benefits of exercise. No, most people aren’t going to do either one, but it is hard to argue with the results.
Final thoughts: When you look at chiropractic care and exercise together, and you categorize them as short-term, long-term and wellness…it starts to make a lot of sense. Chiropractic care can be used a variety of ways, and it should be. It’s a mistake to think that chiropractic is only for people who are doubled over in pain. It’s also a mistake to think that chiropractic is only for people who eat kale and want to reach their fullest health potential. Since you have a spine, you should probably have a chiropractor. It’s just a good idea. Does that mean you have to go to the chiropractor once per week for the rest of your life? No…of course not. You get to decide how to use chiropractic care. You get to decide how it best fits into your goals and life. Your chiropractor will be there to help support you along the way. As it should be.