How Many Visits Do I Really Need? Care Plans Explained
There’s a lot of factors that go into the problems that typically come into a chiropractor’s office (low back pain, neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, foot pain, you get the point), and each factor changes how long/how many times someone will need to be seen. This includes age, activity level, different medical conditions, diet/lifestyle, etc. It’s complicated, but what’s important to remember is that everyone heals at a different rate and one-size-fits-all plans don't consider that.
This is the reason extended care plans saying "you need to come in for a few times a week for the next (blank) months" aren’t appropriate. Don’t get me wrong, if you feel that being treated every two weeks makes you feel better and keeps you moving then there’s nothing wrong with that; but it’s rare that you NEED a care plan that lasts months. I’ll go through an example. Low back pain is the most common thing we see as chiropractors so we’ll use that.
In people with acute low back pain (that’s low back pain that has been around for less than 4 weeks), it should help to know that most people are pain free within 4-6 weeks. For people that are in this window of time, chiropractic treatments are great at reducing pain; but we can’t predict if someone will feel better after 2 weeks or if it will take 6 weeks or more. It all depends on how they respond to treatment and if the right problem is being treated (joint, muscle, or nerve). If someone’s low back pain is being treated as a joint problem with it’s more of a muscle problem, it could take more visits. This is where choosing the right doctor for you comes in.
Now there’s no way to know for sure whether you need to be seen for 4 visits or 14 visits. Research tells us that the average number of visits needed ranges from 6-12 visits, but every person is unique which means every person has a unique number of days it will take them to feel better. That’s why your care plan should reflect this.
It’s also important you be an active participant in your health. Exercise and lifestyle changes at home are great ways to speed up recovery and prevent future back pain from happening. We can give you all the tools to be healthier but it’s up to you to use them. If you don’t take control of your health then you will constantly rely on others to do it for you.
I know that's a bit of a harsh statement so here's a picture of my dog Margo to ease the harshness.
-Dr. Nick Dugger, DC