We all know the importance of maintenance. Whether we are talking about our home, our vehicle, or even our teeth, maintenance is something most of us do without question or even giving much thought to. Most of us get our oil changed before the car breaks down, replace our worn tires before one blows out on the highway, and visit the dentist for a check-up before we feel the pain of a cavity. We try to eat healthy and get some regular exercise before we have a heart attack.
We choose do these things pre-emptively because we know in the long run proper maintenance will save us pain, hassle, and money!
Where’s the resistance?
The maintenance of your spinal health should be no different. For many people, though, it is often neglected. There are several reasons for this.
- For many people it isn’t even on their radar. Usually unless you have had a back or neck injury debilitating enough to keep you in pain for a while or keep you from doing an activity you enjoy, you don’t consider your spinal health. Unlike our teeth which we look at, brush and floss everyday (hopefully), our spines are not a concern to us unless they hurt.
- People are unaware of how to maintain proper spinal health. Through no fault of their own, many people have simply not been exposed to proper maintenance techniques for their body, and specifically their back. Every vehicle comes with an owner’s manual. Unfortunately people do not.
- It is regarded and unimportant, or at least less important than maintaining other aspects of our lives. But talk to someone with degenerative or functionally limiting back pain and you’ll quickly realize that health is indeed your most valuable asset. Many of us don’t come to this realization until it’s too late.
So what do you do?
The first step is making sure that you don’t have an underlying problem that’s not yet symptomatic. Just like with your teeth or your heart, dysfunction or pathology can go unnoticed for some time before your body sounds the alarm. Often the first symptom of cardiovascular disease is an actual myocardial infarction, or heart attack. Fortunately most people don’t wait for this symptom to develop. You have a yearly check-up to look for signs of underlying (asymptomatic) cardiovascular disease such as elevated blood pressure or lipid levels so that you can address the problem before symptoms show up. For your spine, that looks like having a periodic check-up with your chiropractor to ensure you’re exhibiting proper spinal mobility, stability, and alignment. It is most often the case that by the time you injure your back, there has been underlying (asymptomatic) dysfunction going on for quite a while before you develop pain.
Once dysfunction has been identified, we go about correcting it before things start to break down. If a cavity is discovered in your teeth, hopefully before symptoms arrive, you have it filled and stick to your daily home maintenance…….brushing and flossing. What you don’t do is skip the brushing and flossing, and wait until you have tooth pain before visiting your dentist again. Or you take that ill-advised approach and you end up in more pain and a higher bill from the dentist in the end. Once spinal dysfunction is discovered, we correct it through spinal adjustments and an individualized exercise program. Once the dysfunction is corrected you maintain your spinal health through proper home care.
As with your primary care physician or your dentist, periodic maintenance visits to the chiropractor have been proven to be effective in reducing the likelihood of debilitating symptoms appearing. A clinical trial recently conducted in Sweden took the first place prize in the European Chiropractors Convention research contest for demonstrating the benefits of chiropractic maintenance care compared to symptomatic treatment.
The maintenance group was provided chiropractic care at 1-3 month intervals, regardless of symptoms. The symptomatic treatment group was provided chiropractic care only when presenting for pain. Participants were treated in this fashion over the course of 1 year. The results were clear:
“The maintenance care group consisting of 163 subjects reported 19.3 fewer days with bothersome lower back pain over the 12 month follow-up compared to 154 subjects in the control group. The maintenance care group had an average of 7 visits compared to 5 visits in the control group.”
So just two extra visits per year to the chiropractor resulted in about 20 fewer days suffering from back pain. For most people, that’s well worth it!
Obviously if you’re currently dealing with back pain, neck pain, headaches, or other musculoskeletal problems, the best time to address them was before they started…..the second best time is now.
If you’re feeling good, staying active, eating right, and you feel like everything is functioning as it should, periodic maintenance is still a smart idea. For many patients that amounts to a visit every 1 to 2 months to make sure your spine is in optimal condition to withstand the daily stressors of commuting, sitting at your desk all day, yardwork, housework, taking care of the kids, and weekend warrior activities. Remember, it is always easier to prevent a problem through maintenance than it is to wait until you blow a tire, get a cavity, have a heart attack, or “throw your back out”!
Visit www.bcaspine.com to learn more or to schedule an appointment. Bellevue Chiropractic Associates is here to help you regain your health and “Get Back to Life”!