Have you ever heard a chiropractor or physical therapist say that it will only take one visit to cure you of your problem? Chances are probably not. Very few cases require such minimal care In this week’s blog, we will discuss the purpose of a treatment plan and how we design treatment plans in our facility.
What is the Purpose of a Treatment Plan?
The purpose of a treatment plan is quite simple. A patient is in pain and wants to get better. A doctor needs to have a plan in order to meet that goal. A treatment plan is something that a doctor designs specifically for each individual patient and details exactly what he is going to do, the frequency of how much time the patient is recommended to come in each week and the number of visits it will take to get them better.
One thing you may have noticed is that we didn’t discuss is cost. When discussing patient health, the only thing the patient cares about is getting healthy. If the doctor is good at what he does, takes a really good history, x-rays and performs a detailed examination, the patient already has full confidence that the doctor can help, and that money is just a number. Patients realize immediately that it is an important investment in their health.
How Do We Design Treatment Plans?
Every patient in our facility is different, so everyone has a different treatment plan designed specifically for them. This includes chiropractic, decompression and neuropathy patients. Once we have finished reviewing x-rays or orthopedic examination from the previous visit, we begin discussing the treatment plan in great detail and the importance of it.
The treatment plan is broken up into 3 phases:
Phase 1: Pain Phase
- Every patient starts in this phase. They are in pain, otherwise they wouldn’t be in our office. Our job as doctors is to get patients out of pain. However, that doesn’t mean we stop treating once the pain is gone.
Phase 2: Stabilization Phase
- Once patients are out of pain, they then are categorized in the stabilization phase. At this point, patients think they are free to go because the pain is gone, but this is the most critical of the three phases. When we show patients their x-rays, we physically show them everything that is wrong with their bone structure and misalignment/rotation of the spine. These corrections don’t just happen overnight. For some, these changes take months and even years to happen. Believe it or not, pain is the last symptom to occur in most patients. So even though pain may have presented two weeks prior, the issue has been going on for much longer, and the longer a patient waits to handle the issue, the longer it is for the doctor to be able to get the patient better. Another crucial part about the stabilization phase is that if a patient is going through care and had a slight fall or minor injury, the body won’t react as badly as someone who may have stopped care in the pain phase. Chiropractic is not and has never been designed for a one and done treatment protocol. The spine is so used to being in the same position for so long that although the first few adjustments may create pain relief, but the spine will move back to its normal position because it has been trained to do so. Repetitious chiropractic adjustments will train the spine to be in the correct alignment hence, this is why we give each patient an extensive treatment plan.
Phase 3: Maintenance Phase
- Once the patient has completed their treatment plan, they move onto phase three: maintenance care. Maintenance care is very simple in our facility. Once a patient has completed their treatment plan, we sit down and explain to them how well they improved with our care and that we want them to continue to stay where they are right now. Maintenance care is absolutely crucial in order to maintain this goal. The beauty of maintenance care is that although we still want to see patients regularly, we don’t have to see them as frequently as we did when they first started care. Rather than seeing them 2-3 times a week, we may only need to see them a few times a month. There are two great examples we like to use to explain maintenance care.
- Cars need oil changes approximately every 3K-5K miles, right? Without oil, the car won’t function properly. Think of the body as the car and the treatment as the oil. The treatment allows the body to continue to function properly and allows patient health to stay at optimal levels.
- A routine dental cleaning should be performed every 6-months, right? You can tell when someone doesn’t regularly see a dentist: teeth are yellow, they may be crooked; gums look unhealthy, teeth may have visibly rotten and the person may possibly have a chronic case of bad breath. The purpose of two routine cleanings a year is to assure the teeth stay strong and healthy. Just like teeth, the spine needs routine checkups so that the nervous system continues to run at optimal levels.
We design our treatment plans based on our best clinical judgement and we explain to patients why we developed their plan accordingly. When patients sign on for treatment plans, it includes spinal manipulation (decompression or neuropathy management if they are candidates), any therapies such as electric muscle stimulation, more x-rays if needed and re-exams if necessary. It’s all included. There is no additional fee if a patient needs another set of x-rays or another exam like most doctors’ charge. It is incentive for taking control of their health and wanting to get better.
As you can see, treatment plans are extremely important and the best way to get better. It tells the doctor that you truly want to get better, and you want to take control of your health. If you or anyone you know is or may be a candidate for chiropractic, decompression and/or neuropathy care, please call us at (724) 547-3377 and checkout our website at www.drlarrywilkinsspinalcare.com for more content on office procedures and treatment options.
Yours In Health,
Larry E. Wilkins, DC
Brian M. Steinert, DC