If you’re considering going to see a chiropractor for pain relief, especially after an accident, you probably have many questions about the process, including how long you should see a chiropractor.
You may have heard that chiropractors will prescribe endless visits. You may have heard that you're going to need to visit a chiropractor's office 3-5 times a week. There are many myths about chiropractic care, which is why it’s important to do research, get all the facts, and come to your own conclusion about seeing a chiropractic physician for pain relief. If you don't visit a chiropractor's office, you won't actually know what course of treatment would be prescribed.
Understanding the Diagnosis
It's vital that you, as the patient, understand what is going on with your body – not just your doctor. Before you leave the chiropractic office, recite your diagnosis back to your chiropractor. If you have whiplash from a car accident make sure you understand the diagnosis and discuss the plan of action together. Do you need a massage therapist to alleviate your symptoms from a slip and fall accident, or maybe you need to be referred for a diagnostic test? Your next steps should be clear to you before you leave.
How Involved Should Patients Be?
Feedback is an incredible tool for both the patient and their chiropractic doctor. In conjunction with your adjustments, your chiropractor will most likely ask you to begin some form of exercise at home. Be sure to clarify with your doctor exactly what is expected of you. If it isn’t clear – speak up, they will be happy to go over it with you as many times as you need.
Common Chiropractic Program Plans
Your chiropractor will work with you to alleviate pain and get you back to feeling good as quickly as possible. Ultimately, the goal should be to reduce chiropractic care to a point where it's needed, rather than continuous regular visits.
Together, you and your chiropractor should address how to avoid similar problems in the future. Your chiropractor will evaluate your lifestyle, activity levels, and diet, and make recommendations on changes you can make to continue progressing in your overall health.
What Should You Expect After Your Diagnosis?
There are different stages of chiropractic care, urgent, rehabilitative and maintenance. During the urgent phase, you may need treatment several times during the first few weeks. This is common after an accident or an injury when persistent pain is present. Rehabilitative may mean you receive care at least once per week, or more if need be. In the maintenance stage, you will receive care much less often. At ChiroCare of Florida, our experienced doctors will work with you to assess how frequently you should see our chiropractors, especially after an accident, when patient care is most urgent.
Preventative Chiropractic Treatment
Some patients prefer seeing a chiropractor to receive adjustments as a preventative measure to prevent pain and promote alignment. Some patients simply feel better and healthier after getting an adjustment. How often and long you visit for preventative care will depend on your responsiveness to treatment, how well your body maintains the adjustments and your overall health. Some patients may feel benefits from visiting the office every other week while others may require more frequent appointments.
Furthermore, if you’re very active or have a physically demanding job, you may need more frequent preventative care.
Chiropractic Care for Minor Injuries
If you suffer from back pain on occasion or have suffered minor injuries, chiropractic treatment can help with minor aches and pains and help you heal.
Adjustments can help realign your vertebra so your nervous system functions correctly. Your frequency of visits will vary, as will the length of treatment. As you progress, your chiropractor will be able to determine if, and how often, additional visits are needed.
Treating Severe Injuries or Chronic Conditions
Severe injuries and chronic conditions can bring on chronic pain and lead to prolonged, more frequent care. The spinal adjustments can help stimulate the healing process after a painful injury, but your treatment program will depend on your condition. Your chiropractor can help develop a treatment plan that is right for you, and monitor your progress.
How Long Should I Get Chiropractic Treatment for Whiplash?
Once your chiropractor has evaluated your symptoms and identified any areas of restricted joint motion, he or she will develop a treatment plan for you. Each case of whiplash is different, so each treatment plan will vary. Your treatment plan will depend on the severity of your injury. Your range of motion and level of pain will be assessed to help determine your treatment program.
The treatment program may include a combination of modalities such as chiropractic manipulation, muscle relaxation/stimulation, McKenzie exercises and ergonomic lifestyle changes. Recovery from a whiplash injury can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months. You should continue to see your chiropractor until all your symptoms have resolved and you're pain-free.
Chiropractic Treatment Program Questions
Although every individual treatment plan will differ, common questions you can ask your chiropractor may include:
- What is a typical practice pattern or treatment program?
- What chiropractic services do you offer? Which do you recommend for me?
- What is your recommendation if the treatment program doesn't seem to help?
- Have you ever referred your patients to other health professionals? If yes, under what circumstances?
Potential Red Flags about Chiropractic Treatment Programs
There are several red flags patients should be on the look-out for when they visit a new chiropractor. Examples may include:
- Pressure to purchase specific supplements or devices sold exclusively at their clinic. You should never feel pressured to purchase more than the service you initially paid for.
- Treating all patients the same – If your chiropractor seems to find the same problem in every patient, he or she may not be very experienced or reputable.
- Negative online reviews – Always read the online reviews of the chiropractic offices you have booked an appointment with. This will give you clearer insight into how treatment with previous patients has gone in the past. If the majority of reviews are not great – this is usually a red flag.
- Continued treatments after symptoms have resolved – Your chiropractor should want you to heal, and schedule visits less frequently once your symptoms have alleviated.
What is Home Instruction and Exercise?
It's common for your chiropractor to send you home with instructions on exercises to complete in between visits. However, be wary if your doctor hands you a packet of exercises that looks like it has been copied and given to every patient. Your chiropractor should take the time to evaluate your individual needs, and advise you on specific stretches and/or exercises accordingly.
Chiropractic care plays an important role in your health throughout life, which means you may need long-term care. Similar to seeing a doctor for routine checkups, you will want to see a chiropractor for routine care as well.
There is no set amount of time in which you will need to see a chiropractor as each individual, and their medical needs, are different.