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Wellness Care

Wellness Care -Does It Really Work?

April 01, 2012

Like millions ofCanadians per year, you may have originally come into your Chiropractors officewith an injury. It was diagnosed, and treated and eventually the pain wentaway. Some of you continued beyond that initial intensive care to morecorrective care and actually made some progress in dealing with the actualunderlying issue whether it was faulty biomechanics, a misalignment, or perhapssome damage to your spine from a long standing injury. Now you have beenrecommended that you should continue on with maintenance care. In our office,approximately 60% of you will continue with maintenance care. Why? For most ofus, much like regular dental check-ups, taking vitamins, and exercising, itinherently just makes sense. After all what constitutes a healthy spine? Ahealth spine is simply put, one that is flexible and strong, and protects thespinal cord and nerves adequately. Our spines are subject to stresses 24 hoursper day unlike your teeth, so stiffness and misalignments can and do occur overtime in most of us. A really important key to remember is that the spineprotects our nervous system. So a healthy spine = a healthy nervous system = ahealthy body. Problems in the spine can build up over time, silently, withoutany symptoms, which if left uncorrected can create damage to the spine overtime. It makes sense to take regular care of your spine. Most of us get thatconcept.

After a whileand for a few of us, the question inevitably comes "well, I feel fine now - sowhy do I still need maintenance treatment?"  Really, it is no differentfrom asking, "I'm not overweight, so why should I keep exercising?", or "Idon't have a toothache so why should I go to a dentist?"  Like a lot ofthings, when the initial symptoms that drove you to our office, such as pain orstiffness, disappear, it is "out-of-sight, out-of-mind".   We know itmakes sense, but if we are no longer in pain, how do we really know that ourhealth efforts are working? - whether that is regular chiropractic treatments,brushing our teeth, taking vitamins, or exercising. For some of us, the effectsof regular chiropractic care are fairly immediate - we notice we think clearer,have more energy, sleep better at night, get sick less often, our sportsperformance is better, stronger, our mood is better, and we tend to make betterhealth choices such as eating better.

Once we reachhigher levels of health, the effects of regular care become less dramatic.After all, we are maintaining a higher level of health now. So we begin toquestion the methods that got us to that level to begin with. For instance, Ihear quite often, "I feel healthy, so how do I know that vitamins are stillworking?"  We need a bit more reassurance that our time, money and effortspent on our health is really worth it.  We know it makes sense but it'stempting to start to let some of our efforts go. This is where the researchcomes in.

What does theresearch show? The research from all areas of science - medical journals,physiology, neurology, biomechanics, immunology, anatomy, etc. show that havinga flexible and strong spine (a "healthy" spine) can produce healthy effects notjust in the spine but throughout our bodies. This can include healthy effectson our organs such as our bowels and lungs, our immune system, our mentalstate, and our entire neurophysiology!

Here are just afew recent interesting studies:

  • From the Journal of Spine, a 2011 article by two medical doctors concluded that for chronic suffers of low back pain, "those patients who maintained spinal manipulation treatment maintained their good results while those patients who did not maintain returned to their pre-treatment".  To obtain long-term benefit, this study suggests maintenance adjustments after the initial intensive manipulative therapy.
  • A large research study of over 17,000 people showed that regular wellness chiropractic care reduced work loss by up to 75%.
  • In a study by Professor F Splendori - Chiropractic therapeutic effectiveness, social importance, incidence on absence from work and hospitalization, Italy, 1988, it was concluded that regular Chiropractic care improves productivity and overall quality of life, and those under regular care consistently make healthier life choices.
  • The first conventional HMO in the US to use chiropractors as a primary care physician found that after just two years of utilizing chiropractors, their hospitalizations were reduced by 80%, outpatient surgery was reduced by 85%, and prescription drug use was reduced by 56%.

A three yearstudy published in Topics in Clinical Chiropractic in 1996 examined seniorcitizens over the age of 75 years of age and revealed that seniors who receiveregular chiropractic care experienced the following:

  • Chiropractic patients spend 15% less time in nursing homes and 21% less time in hospitals than the non-chiropractic patients
  • Report "better overall health" on quality of life surveys (87% of seniors under chiropractic care described their health as "excellent" or "good", compared to only 65% of non-chiropractic patients)
  • Have fewer chronic conditions
  • Were less likely to utilize prescription drugs than non-chiropractic patients
  • Were more likely to exercise vigorously and be active in the community

The above aresome of the multitude of research studies on maintenance care. One area ofparticular interest to me is the research on the effectiveness of regularchiropractic care on depression, anxiety and mental function which I willhighlight in a future newsletter.

For now, I wouldgive you one piece of advice - Get Adjusted Regularly!

(Written by Dr. Gordon Gertz)