“One and Done” only works in college basketball!
It is a doctor’s responsibility to follow-up with their patient. It is the standard of care to make sure your treatment is working. Regardless of your specialty, you gave an oath to serve the greater good and to provide health to the masses. As Chiropractors, our treatment plans vary depending on our philosophy but one consistent theme is the value of maintenance or wellness care. It has been said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and this holds true within Chiropractic circles.
Unfortunately, we hear all the time from potential patients, “Well I’ve heard good things but I don’t want to have to keep coming back.” or something to this effect. Often times we will use a fitting analogy to try and relate to that patient, including but not limited to: “You go to the dentist twice a year for routine dental check-ups – how is your spine any different?” or “You take your car in for a tune-up before it starts to run badly – shouldn’t you do this for your body too?”
This will relate to some patients; however, not so much the case for the majority. The general population understands that if they don’t get their teeth checked they can develop cavities and/or infections or if they don’t get that tune-up for their car then they could potentially break down in the middle of nowhere. Neither scenario is something we actively seek.
But what happens when you routinely neglect your spine? The answer, though easy, is not a simple one to demonstrate. This is because the effects typically don’t manifest right away or do so at a sub-clinical level that isn’t even noticeable to the patient. Presently, we are beginning to see the long-term effects of poor posture and immobilization and the affects they can have on your health from physical, physiological and psychological aspects.
But what if I was to tell you that there has been research available for over 30 years that show the detrimental effects immobilization can have on your structural system (your bones and joints). The article is titled “Experimental Models of Osteoarthritis: The Role of Immobilization” and the abstract section of the article states:
- “Evidence is reviewed from animal experiments supporting the hypothesis that immobilization, for whatever reason, is one of the pathogenetic factors in musculo-skeletal degeneration. It shows beyond reasonable doubt that immobilization is not only a cause of osteoarthritis but that it delays the healing process.”
The article continues to demonstrate the pathophysiological changes that can occur IMMEDIATELY following immobilization of a joint or spinal segment and the potential long-term effects if that immobilization is left unchecked.
Ultimately, what this comes back to is a failure to properly inform patients of the negative consequences of their actions (or inactions as this case maybe). It’s not as simple as saying that you do this for your teeth so you should do it for your spine without telling them WHY it is important.
Fortunately, technology has advanced to the point where we can now show patients a “screenshot” of the nervous system in present time or how their posture is negatively affecting their health. This certainly helps to connect some of these dots for patients. However, we need to be better at providing our patients with the WHY and allow them to form those connections themselves. This will help create better understanding, and more importantly, better outcomes for our patients!
1. Videman, T. “Experimental Models of Osteoarthritis: The Role of Immobilization”. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 1987 Nov;2(4):223-9.