Q: After injuring my back last week I began seeing a chiropractor for lower back pain. When we discussed treatment options, I was given the choice of “relief care” or “corrective care”. I thought that once the pain was gone, the problem was fixed. Is that not true? --Joanne C., Cape Coral
A: Every patient, based on his or her health goals, will have to decide if they want to fix the underlying problem causing their symptoms, or merely patch it. Relief Care, or Patch Care, is better than no care, but it is at best a stop-gap measure. It’s like having a hole in your car tire that you patch up. You know the fix won’t last but the problem has at least been taken care of for the short term. Relief Care simply means that a patient decides to come for treatment only as long as it takes to get out of pain or get symptomatic relief. Many patients may choose relief care often due to financial or time considerations, or may be of the “if it is not hurting, then there’s no problem” mindset. Unfortunately, with patch care, although pain relief is achieved, the pain/symptoms frequently return after a period of time but because the underlying spinal structural problem has not been completely corrected and stabilized. This sets the patient up for re-injury which then leads to more visits to achieve relief again. While we’re happy to help these patients (again), we’ve often wondered if they could have avoided their problem with less cost, time and inconvenience by continuing their care in the first place. Remember, without proper structure there will never be proper function.
Once your symptoms are gone, it is important to realize that lack of pain does not equal stability. Pain relief is merely the first part of the process. Keep in mind that there are two benefits to chiropractic: Fixing the problem (the misalignment) and keeping it that way (spinal stability). The goal of corrective care is to provide long term stability to your spine. From a practical stand point this means long-term relief. The doctor has to help you “re-train” the muscles and vertebrae to stay in alignment, and this usually requires “layering” the adjustments, especially in the beginning of the care plan. Each visit builds on itself. To maximize your chances of avoiding re-injury in the future, specific exercises and stretches will be incorporated into the treatment plan. These exercises and stretches teach you to help strengthen and correct your own unique problem.
Dr. Misty Green is a local Chiropractor serving the Cape Coral/North Fort Myers, Florida area for over 20 years. She can be reached at (239) 772-5777 to schedule an appointment. Check out our website at AskDrMisty.com for short and sweet video health tips.
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