When someone first visits a doctor, the quality of their initial experience is based on a number things. The warmth of how they are received by staff members is the all-important first impression, and the amount of time they are required to wait to see the doctor is very important to patients. What about the perception of time spent? Most patients report the most important aspect of their doctor’s visit is the amount of time spent with the doctor and of course, whether or not their doctor could deliver the goods. That is, did they feel listened to and did the doctor respond to why the patient actually arrived?
In the chiropractic office, a significant challenge for the doctor in connecting with new patients is that they are typically unfamiliar with what chiropractic care is, and its purpose. The role of chiropractic is to detect and clear spinal subluxations. Subluxation is the name given for defining dysfunction relating to the spine, nervous system and its related structures. The new patient is likely to arrive with some pain or symptom that they want eliminated, and they typically want it eliminated immediately. In the medical model they are used to describing their symptoms and being treated with a drug or surgical procedure. Chiropractic is different. It relates to the natural human potential and the concept that people were born to be healthy. This vitalistic model equates with the idea that we are adaptable, resilient and destined to thrive.
In the chiropractic office it can be hard to grasp the concept that the symptom might not be the cause of sickness, but rather the effect. A patient certainly wouldn’t want carpal tunnel surgery if their wrist complaint was caused by a nerve impingement in their neck. In this case, the cause of the problem is not the expression of the problem. In truth, patients who don’t know, just want something or anything that they believe will give them relief. Patients even request an antibiotic to treat a virus, knowing that it can’t help and sometimes their doctors cave to their demands. In 2016, the CDC reported that 1 in 3 antibiotic prescriptions were unnecessary. Worse yet are the risks and side effects of repeated antibiotic use that are largely ignored. These are just a few examples to illustrate how important it is for patients to be informed and ask questions about their health care options.
Because our society is so results driven, it can be a challenge for a doctor to immediately satisfy a patient. Patients receive invasive treatments all the time that have significant risks and known side effects before even considering conservative approaches to care. As a result there are expert neurosurgeons who exist and are known primarily for providing spinal surgery to correct failed spinal surgery.
Doctors in the business of helping people often believe they are the best person to help every patient. The doctor’s ability to connect with a patient and provide the best treatment technique for their specific problem can help determine if they should be the one to proceed or to refer the patient to a colleague. In chiropractic, too many chiropractors claim that their individual technique works and nobody else has a clue. While their are merits to all chiropractic adjusting techniques, chiropractors should be experts in several, because some are better suited for certain patients and not others. A gentle technique, like Torque Release Technique puts people at ease, knowing they won’t have their family’s “backs cracked.” Instead they receive a precise adjustment from a light hand-held instrument called an “Integrator.” Professionally, chiropractors are challenged when patients already think they know what is wrong or worse yet what other doctors told them was wrong, but yet they have had years and years of suffering from the same problem.
A doctor of chiropractic often detects that the major symptom is a compensatory mechanism, and not the actual cause of the problem. It can be incredibly challenging to try and explain to a patient that they will not be treated where it hurts, but more appropriately, at another related anatomical landmark. Too many doctors get to work treating patients before educating them on what they will be doing, why, and what the patient can expect afterwards. Even chiropractors are guilty of promoting the “quick fix,” and promising results they may or may not deliver. Because of this, some patients report that chiropractic doesn’t work for them, and they have never actually received chiropractic care. The same is true in physical therapy and other medical treatments. If a course of care is initiated over time with appointments carefully planned and home care recommendations added, some patients will expect their problem to resolve in one day. If they have lived with their problem for decades, this is a very unlikely outcome. The patient owns their condition and the lifestyle that precedes it, so it is fortunate when they form a partnership in healing with a caring doctor.
A conscientious chiropractor will look to the cause of the problem and literally slow down the initial interaction with a new patient to understand their goals. If that patient truly feels listened to and understood, the intensity of any negative emotions attached to their pain can be reduced. Taking the time to perform to a detailed series of tests helps to ensure that any technique can be delivered with precision and mastery. The benefit to the patient is that a truly specific adjustment is based on a single primary subluxation. That means at any given moment, there can be only one most appropriate adjustment. The doctor can discern what to do neurologically and make a single determination from thousands of possibilities. Providing precision care that is detailed and specific is more likely to get to the solution than a general spinal manipulation.
In the chiropractic office every patient is treated like a unique soul with the doctor working completely focused and present. Looking to the cause, a caring chiropractor makes it a point to check each member of a family for the presence of spinal problems and subluxations, because many of them can be inherited. Attending to the effects of childhood traumas is the most appropriate way to look to the cause at an early age and prevent permanent damage later. It is time to say goodbye to the flawed model that waits decades to diagnose spinal decay and then labels it “normal aging.” The chiropractor who looks to the cause will provide wellness oriented care and build relationships with patients that can last a lifetime.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional advice from your physician or other qualified health provider if you have any questions about a medical condition.