An Ounce of Prevention...
...Is worth a pound of cure.
Preventative health care has been a buzzword over the last five to ten years in the managed health care community. Measures include annual physical examinations, lab work, and cancer screenings among others. However, despite these efforts, our country seems to be sicker than ever. How is this possible? As a society, we are stressed, over (and under) fed, out of shape, and we could all use a better night’s rest (likely due to a combination of the above). I’ll propose the question: How does chiropractic fit into the preventative health care model?
EMedicine reports that 85 percent of Americans under the age of 50 will suffer with low back pain at some point in their lives, making it the second most common complaint in ambulatory medicine and the third most expensive disorder in health care dollars, surpassed only by cancer and heart disease. With it’s daunting prevalence, one would think mechanical low back pain is well-managed with Westernized medicine. Shockingly, the opposite is true. The morbidity rate associated with chronic low back pain is staggering. Pharmacological intervention such as NSAIDs, muscle relaxers, and cortisone offer short bouts of relief, but they do not correct the problem. These treatments merely place a Band-Aid over the problem, masking symptoms and giving the patient almost a false sense of security. Pharmaceutical therapy can however be extremely beneficial in controlling chemical irritation (inflammation) when combined with active therapy modalities such as chiropractic care.
Back to the topic at hand: if 85 percent of our population will suffer from back pain before the age of 50, wouldn’t it be nice to avoid it all together? Chiropractic care is extremely effective in the treatment of mechanical low back pain. The good news: the low back is comprised of joints (as is the rest of the body)… chiropractors treat far more than low back pain. In fact, any joint in the body is susceptible to life’s stressors, and chiropractors are proficient in the diagnosis and treatment of joint dysfunction all over the body.
For instance, you have a weak (inhibited) posterior hip muscle. Knee stability is predicated on hip mobility. Over time, the inhibited hip is going to cause irritation and instability to the knee and all of a sudden you have a torn meniscus. Our office performs a thorough examination prior to treatment. This examination is not a symptom search, but rather a dysfunction discriminator. Because of the multifaceted evaluation, we are able to screen asymptomatic patients then suggest an appropriate preventative treatment plan to avoid potential future problems. In the case discussed above, appropriate treatment to the hip and a home corrective exercise program may completely detour the impending knee problems of the future.
Approximately one third of our office visits per month are comprised of maintenance or preventative patients. Many of them were introduced to our office as a referral from a friend, family member or colleague to help them get out of pain. Once our patients realize they can actually feel better than they did before the injury, the decision for preventative care is simple. Thus, preventative care comes in two forms: 1) patient presented with pain and chose preventative treatments after active care to keep the issue from arising and 2) patient was asymptomatic in the first place, but wanted a performance gain (posture, athletics, etc) or they had a faulty screen. Let’s face it. Not many of us would wait for our teeth to rot before visiting the dentist, so why put off moving and feeling better?
- Dr. Curt Kippenberger