What do I have?
Generally speaking, there is segmental joint dysfunction. Segmental joint dysfunction means certain joints in the spine are restricted. They do not move properly or have full range of motion. Segmental dysfunction leads to muscle spasms. Muscle spasms occur to stabilize a joint that has Segmental dysfunction and poor spinal mechanics. It’s your bodies own way of protecting itself. (Taking muscle relaxers can be counter-intuitive due to this. Muscle relaxers target muscles correct? Your heart is also a muscle so it will also decrease the pumping power of each heart contraction. Hence, many people get tired when taking muscle relaxers due to this effect. It will also reduce blood pressure so the required blood to make it to the brain is diminished, which will also add to the drowsiness effect.) When your muscles go into spasms, your posture is effected. Patients generally have anterior head carriage and shoulders that are rounded.
This puts added stress and strain on an already strained back which further leads down the road to pain. When we are chronically in a bad posture and have chronic muscle spasms, you will eventually have DDD or DJD (Degenerative disc disease, Degenerative Joint Disease).
Problems associated with DDD and DJD are disc bulges, disc herniations, arthritis and spinal stenosis. Pretty soon these conditions become operable and a surgeon will want to go in and remove parts of a disc or scar tissue that has developed due to previous surgeries. The medical field has completed studies showing back surgeries are only successful 50% of the time . The Medical field has coined the term/diagnosis, Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. What this means is 1/2 of all back surgeries done, the patient is in the same amount of pain or worse 1 year post surgery.
What are you going to do?
As Chiropractors, we do not want to treat the symptoms that follow Segmental Dysfunction. All medication is usually directed in removing the symptoms without removing the cause of the symptoms. Medication is like putting new wheels on a car that is badly out of alignment. What will eventually happen? The tires will wear significantly faster than normal and the problem will generally get worse. The same will happen with our bodies. Without removing the dysfunction, we will continue to have musculoskeletal problems. (i.e. back pain, joint pain) So how do we accomplish this? Through education and hard work. First we remove the restrictions through Chiropractic Adjustments to the spine. The Chiropractic Adjustment reduces joint inflammation, muscle spasms and pain. From there, the patient must take steps in order to maintain good movement and positive results. It all starts with what kind of fuel we are putting into our bodies. If we put in junk, we are going to get junk results. Second, drink plenty of water. 1/2 gallon a day to a gallon a day. Third, eat clean foods. Chicken, fish and plenty of vegetables with small amounts of fruits and nuts. Fourthly, get quality sleep on your back or side. NEVER on your stomach. Fifth and final, train everyday for at least 10-20 minutes. Training should consist of exercise that does not increase pain but elevates breathing and heart rate. If you feel uncomfortable during or post work out, that is fine and in most circumstances desirable.
How long does it take and why?
Treatment protocols vary based on patient need. If the patient is a 16 year old male who tweaked their back yesterday, generally one or two adjustments will be sufficient to correct the problem. On the other hand, if a 66 year old male with chronic arthritis, DJD and spinal stenosis presents, it will take more time and effort. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Anything worth while takes time. The problems generally don’t occur overnight so they most definitely won’t go away over night. Factors that increase treatment protocols include onset of symptoms, age of patient, severity of symptoms and overall lifestyle of the patient.
Do I need to continually seek chiropractic care?
Based on results I have seen, patients who come in for an adjustment on a regular basis tend to stay pain free and their quality of life is greater. If they do encounter a problem, they will also tend to recover faster if they have been continuing maintenance care. Generally speaking, getting an adjustment once to twice a month is sufficient to maintain healthy spinal mechanics. Is this mandatory, no. Is this beneficial, yes.
How much does this cost?
Depending on insurance carrier and policy, co-payments and co-insurance will vary. A regular office visit will never exceed $35, with or without insurance. I could do ten separate procedures or one and it is still the same fee. Some insurance polices cover 100% and some 0%. On your first visit, the Dr. will verify your benefits and notify you of your financial responsibilities.