eing a chiropractor is fulfilling for me because I know I am helping people. I am helping a runner find her stride again after an injury. I am helping a father pick up his kids again without pain. I am helping a senior adult stay active and continue to live a healthy lifestyle. I am sure you have also experienced the joys of being a chiropractor and you have witnessed the benefits of chiropractic care. Let’s discuss ways you can encourage your patients to live a healthy, chiropractic lifestyle.
As healthcare providers, we have the important job of making sure we listen to patients, administer the proper care and relieve patients’ pain so they start to feel better again. Our goal is to help them perform as optimally as possible and it involves teamwork between the doctor and the patient. We guide patients in healing, while they must, in turn, do their home care and perform any exercises we recommend.
Once patients are out of pain and discomfort, they may feel as if they have their life back again. We encourage them to perform their everyday activities like exercising, playing golf or going places with family. We are extremely pleased when our patients begin feeling better, and eventually they tell us they feel “normal” again. But our responsibility to the patient does not end there.
I believe in the importance of a relationship with my patients – one that is deeply rooted in trust and understanding – on the first day I meet them. I explain and educate them on their ailment, the treatment and what they are expected to do outside the office to help get them better. This expectation I have of patients taking care of themselves follows them throughout their lives, even after we have stopped active care.
As much as we hope that our adjustments hold forever and our patients continue to feel better, the reality is that, inevitably, the body will need check-ups every so often. Life circumstances often arise that can cause your spine and other joints of the body to become stressed and thrown back out of alignment.
It’s imperative to talk to your patients about the significance of regular spinal check-ups – just like they benefit when a dentist cleans their teeth or a mechanic changes the oil in their car. Regular chiropractic maintenance can help patients avoid major problems before they happen. Unfortunately today’s medical world has taught patients that they should only seek the care of a doctor when they are in pain. They don’t realize that healthcare providers can help them maintain a healthy lifestyle if they would take care of themselves and regularly visit a chiropractor.
Help Patients Do Homework
We have to help patients take care of themselves through proper nutrition and exercise. This includes talking to them about their diet and how much exercise they do. You may feel like you are stepping across a line into their personal lives, but you are not. It’s your job to find out why they feel the way they do, just as if you were taking a clinical history or list of symptoms. Understanding how a person eats and whether exercise will tell you a lot about a patient’s health.
If while talking to a patient you discover that she doesn’t like to exercise because she’s embarrassed to work out in front of others. This is when your job title may change from chiropractor to cheerleader. Educating your patients on the proper exercises will empower them to achieve their goals (core workouts for a new mother who wants her body back, etc.). Giving positive feedback with facts about their health is always a good place to start.
Having an honest discussion about the physical effects of stress can go a long way toward helping a patient change his/her behavior.
Besides what they eat and how they work out, there is another important factor in deciding our patients’ health: lifestyle stress. Ask your patient about his day and how he likes his job? You will find out more than you might expect. You could discover that he is stressed over a work project that has been making him work long hours and causing stress at work and home. You will see that this stress will have an impact on his physical self. You can determine where he carries stress in his body and help correct that with an adjustment.
You can’t change someone’s personality. But you can make a difference by talking about the important link between stress and a patient’s health. Explain that being stressed causes physical problems that you can help to alleviate, but the only person who can control the stress is the patient. Having an honest discussion about the physical effects of stress can go a long way toward helping a patient change his/her behavior.
Why Can’t Chiropractic Last Longer?
One of the questions patients ask me is, “Why can’t you just put me back in alignment and it stay that way? Why do I have to come back every so often?” It’s clear what the answer is and how we can respond to our patients’ similar questions. The reason why chiropractic adjustments do not hold forever is because you go out and live your life.
When you think about it, almost every single job or daily activity can have an effect on the alignment of the spine and extremities. Even though we encourage patients to exercise to stay healthy, it can cause stress on your body that needs to be addressed. The body reacts by moving out of alignment and your muscles spasm, which causes swelling, pain and discomfort to return. Does that mean patients shouldn’t exercise? No. Stress is a normal part of life; the point is that patients can do something to keep it from negatively affecting their body and their health!
Some patients are able to hold their adjustments longer than others. Certain patients may only come in for an annual check-up, because they exercise and do things that keep them strong. Other patients may come back every two weeks, because their daily routine is so physically demanding that they are thrown out of alignment quickly. It all depends on genetics, the commitment to home exercises, and lifestyle. You will work with your patients to discover the optimal frequency they should be for coming back to the office for spinal tune-ups.Dr. Kevin Wong is an expert on foot analysis, walking and standing postures and orthotics. Teaching patients and chiropractors is a passion for him, and he travels the country speaking about spinal and extremity adjusting. Dr. Wong practices full-time in Orinda, California. Contact Dr. Wong at 925-254-4040 or