I’ve heard it before, and in all reality it would be nice if it were true. Then I’d never need to find new patients:) .
People worry that once they go to see a chiropractor they’ll need to go for the rest of their life. They hear stories about people having gone to the chiropractor and being told that they need to come in 2 times per week for months and then even when they’re “cured” they’ll still need to come back every month or so. There is also the fear that perhaps this joint popping is addictive. Both of these myths, like all myths and stereotypes, have a basis in reality. Let me explain the reality and perhaps address where the myths came from.
First of all, there are people who may “need” to see a chiropractor the rest of their lives. Usually they are people with irreversible injuries or illnesses who require care on a regular basis to improve their standard of living. I once had a wonderful patient with MLS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease). She had serious pain all day every day. When she received treatment from me it relieved her pain for a little while. This enabled her to function better for what she had left of her life. It also enabled her medical doctor to reduce the amount of medication that she took. It was a joy to treat her. As a side note, for some reason after starting chiropractic care, the progression of her illness began to slow. She lived years longer than expected. I know of many patients who get chiropractic care like this. Cancer patients, patients with degenerative conditions, etc. In these situations chiropractic care can be a life saver and they look forward to the visits even if they are twice a week for the rest of their life.
The argument could be made that we are all breaking down and need regular maintenance care to improve our quality of life. I won’t argue that. I recommend to all of my patients some sort of regular care, but convincing an otherwise healthy patient to come and see me every week is not my style. Elite athletes have proven this idea though. When Tiger Woods gets adjusted he’s not horribly out of sorts, he’s just looking for that extra 2 yards that having a finely tuned body is going to give him. Every one can be improved upon, but most of us aren’t looking for an extra 2 yards or that split second in a race.
The next issue is having to come in 2 times a week for months. If I were to generalize, in my mind, it’s a math issue. if you have a serious enough issue that you see a chiropractor 2 times a week for 2 months and then 4 follow up visits then that’s 20 visits. At my time of service rate of $40 per visit that’s quite a chunk of change, $800. However, if you have the same issue that you see a medical doctor for, after 1 month you’re not responding to care (pain meds), and he then refers you to an orthopedist who recommends surgery, if it’s a simple procedure it will run no less than $5000. After the physical therapy and recovery from surgery you are out about the same amount of time as with me. The breakdown is that you could see me once a week for 2 and a half years for the cost of a minor surgery without the risk, medications, or recovery time and that’s with out the cost of office visits, meds, tests, and a specialist.
So the next time your chiropractor says they’ll need to see you about 15-20 times, smile, and say, “whew, that’s it?” And if someone ever tells you that you get addicted to chiropractic “pops” just tell them that you’re addicted to health, like you’re addicted to exercise, and good food. You know, once you start exercising you can’t stop without horrible side effects.