Stages of Care
The typical patient will encounter 3 stages of care. The first stage focuses on symptomatic relief such as reduction of pain and other discomforts. The following stage addresses tissue healing and function normalization. The final stage consists of periodic spinal care to prevent the formation of new injuries, minimize future flare-ups of old injuries, and prevent degenerative spinal processes
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Relief care is the first stage of care for most patients. The primary goal during this initial stage is to provide the individual with symptomatic relief. Treatments focus on those techniques and therapies which most quickly and effectively reduce pain and other discomforts. This will allow the majority of individuals to continue their activities of daily living.
Patients are generally recommended to "take it easy" but are encouraged to stay mobile and functional so long as there is not a risk of further injury or tissue damage. Therapies that reduce inflammation and muscle spasm are also used during this stage when present.
The second stage of care consists of correcting the problems which caused and contributed to the condition and healing and rehabilitating the injured tissues. Unless these events take place, a favorable outcome is unlikely and future recurrences of the problem are likely. It is extremely important that the patient comply with and follow the instructions given by the doctor during this stage of care.
Tissues and structures that are not fully healed and rehabilitated are prone to future problems. Sticking to appointments, complying with home exercises and instructions, and following all other recommendations will help insure this occurs. Patients should also be aware that once pain and discomfort have subsided, tissue healing and functional correction is many times still incomplete and will often require additional treatments.
Once the spinal tissues are healed and spinal biomechanics have normalized, the patient will be recommended to continue with periodic spinal checkups. For some this might mean once per year, for others this may mean once per month or more.
Chiropractic spinal checkups provide similar benefits to the spine as dental checkups provide to the teeth. Namely, these are catching minor problems and disturbances before they have the opportunity to cause pain, discomfort, and irreversible tissue changes. Just like with cavities and heart attacks, irreversible tissue damage has generally occurred before the symptoms of spinal pain and discomfort become apparent.
The Chiropractic “Adjustment”
How Is It Performed?
The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as “spinal manipulation,” also called “chiropractic adjustment.” It is a highly specific, controlled, and manual procedure that focuses on a specific joint, using a low force velocity (pressure) in a specific direction. Basically, a force is applied to the joint of the body, particularly the spine, “unlocking” it from its improper restricted position. This helps reduce pain and restores or enhances joint function.
There are different techniques and procedures that are adapted to meet the specific needs of each patient. We take into consideration a person’s age, sex, weight, and bone/muscle structure to determine the most effective adjustment technique to use.
Very few patients report that there is any pain associated with having an adjustment. It is also common to hear or feel a “popping” sound, which is normal when gases in the joints are released.
What’s That Cracking or Popping Noise?
A joint contains fluids that help keep it healthy and lubricated (like oil for the joints). This “synovial fluid” contains gas (like carbonation in soft drinks). When an adjustment is made, you may hear a noise (called an “audible release”). The audible release or “crack” is simply caused by the change in pressure within the joint which results in the release of gas bubbles in the joint—much like when you open a can of soda. There is no pain or harm involved; it’s exactly the same when you crack you knuckles.