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Do I need to come forever?

spine

We want to keep your spine healthy and aligned

It’s a question we’ve heard over the years so we thought we would do our best to answer it with this post.

The answer all depends on you. As a Doctor, our job is to lead you towards better health with our best advice and recommendations, but is it up to you as to whether or not you are going to act on the information.

You have to understand that even though you are working towards structural correction of your spine, the issues that could have contributed to the poor alignment in the first place do not necessarily disappear once maximum correction has been achieved.

These issues include:

Long hours at a desk or spent over a keyboard or mobile device. Doing this for hours, day after day, especially with poor, hunched over posture, is a leading cause of neck pain and other related conditions. This can lead to a loss of the neck’s natural curve, which can lead to arthritic degeneration of the vertebrae and discs, but more importantly, creates tension and possible compression on the nerves and spinal cord.

Lack of exercise. We all need a regular routine of exercise that includes cardio for heart health, and weight training to keep us strong. Strong, toned muscles are important to prevent injury in the spine.

Lack of stretching. Taking the time to stretch and work out the knots can help offset some of the degenerative effects of hours a day of poor posture. Problem is, few of us take the time.

Excessive weight. We appreciate this can be a delicate subject for some people, but the simple fact is, the heavier you are, the more strain you are putting on your body. But even if weight loss is a challenge for you, regularly stretching and working to build strength can still make a big difference. You can condition your body to be more capable of carrying that extra weight without suffering as severe a negative effect. And, odds are, the effort will help you shed a few pounds.

Motor vehicle accidents and sporting injuries. We don’t live in a bubble, and unfortunately accidents and injuries happen. These can directly impact the alignment of your spine and need to be addressed as soon as possible in order to have optimal recovery.

Chemical exposure. Smoking, too much alcohol and caffeine, too much processed foods, are all examples of chemical stressors on your body. We know that smoking increases your chances of an early death, but studies show that smoking also accelerates arthritis. Furthermore, we know that a diet where you consume too much sugar increases your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, but it also causes inflammation throughout the whole body. Remember, if you expose your body to it, your body has to process it, and in order to do this, it needs to be functioning properly.

Emotional stressors. Even though the function and the alignment in your spine have improved, it does not necessarily mean that everyone around you becomes an angel. Emotional stress from a family member, co-worker, lack of finances, etc. affects the whole body (i.e. muscle tightness, headaches, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, etc.) The problem is recurrent stress causes recurrent side effects that eventually stay, even though the stressor might have passed.

It’s no different than going to the dentist

Do you ever question if you have to go to the dentist forever?

Most likely not. That’s because you’ve probably been going to the dentist since you were a small child (unlike your Chiropractic care which you started maybe only in your 40s). It’s part of your regular health care “routine”.

You fully understand the necessity of maintaining your teeth on a daily basis in order to prevent plaque build-up, cavities, a root canal, and/or you just want to have your own teeth and not dentures when you are in your 70s!

The same applies to your spine and nervous system. You have to maintain it on a regular basis in order to prevent arthritis and degeneration, and to ensure the proper functioning of the nervous system. Remember, just like you only have one set of teeth, you only have one spine and nervous system. How you maintain it will determine how healthy you will be or what side effects you may experience.

And don’t forget to do your homework

Depending on the patient, we may prescribe at-home spinal rehabilitation exercises, to strengthen key muscles, or to stretch/deform ligaments that are fighting our efforts to correct a misalignment in your spine.

In these cases, we are empowering our patients to play a more active role in their recovery. We are giving them the means to reduce how often they have to come see us, and for how long.
We have case examples of patients who took twice as long as we expected, or even longer, to achieve desired results, because they didn’t practice their at-home spinal rehabilitation exercises. With one 18-year-old patient, it was three years versus 12-18 months!

How healthy was your spine when you first came in?

How often you have to come see us, and for how long, also depends on what state you were in when you started with us.

A misaligned spine leads to degeneration that erodes quality of life. We divide this degeneration into four stages. Full correction is possible in many cases in the first two stages. Partial correction is possible in the third. Beyond that, the damage is generally irreversible; it can only be slowed down. All we can do is to try to relieve some pain and restore some mobility.

The initial stage that you were in when we first met also gives us an idea of how much time we can expect in order to achieve full correction. If someone is in the first stage, full correction is usually expected within 12 months. But if someone is in the third stage, maximum correction may take 3,4,5 years!

We know this may sound like a long time, but it’s no different than when you go to the orthodontist to get braces; the bigger the misalignment, the longer it will take to fully correct the alignment of the teeth to an optimal position.

Early intervention is key. This is why we encourage all our patients to have their kids checked as soon as possible. They might be perfectly “ok”, or they might already have a misalignment in their spine that may be affecting their current state of health.

What happens if I just stop coming?

It depends, on your specific spinal issue, your lifestyle, and what cumulative impact those have on your spinal health.

Take, for example, a patient who sees us to correct a neck problem related to deskwork. After substantial, even full recovery, they can see some loss of their progress within 12 months of discontinuing treatment if they continue to hunch over that desk every day.

In these cases, patients often return to us because the neck pain, headaches, and other symptoms that drew them through our door in the first place have returned. When they left, they may have reached a point in their recovery where they were only coming to see us just once every week or two. But now, they might have to start all over again, perhaps as often as three times a week.

Regular adjustments, regardless of symptoms, are always encouraged in order not only to correct, but also to prevent problems from happening in the first place.

So to answer the original question…

It all depends on what happens outside our clinic, and what your health goals are for the next 12 months… for the last 10 years of your life.

As your Kanata Chiropractors, there is only so much we can do. There is only so much any health professional can do for you.

Do you need to come forever? If you keep engaging in the lifestyle habits that contribute to problems with your spine, then, yes, it’s inevitable.

But you can make a choice, to make those changes in your lifestyle that can improve your health all around.
The overall take away is this: You have one spine, and one nervous system. How you maintain it is up to you, but you have to understand that your decisions will have a direct impact on your health as you age… whether positively, or negatively. We wish we could “sugar-coat” it for you, but honesty is what we believe you expect from us. We are here to lead you in the right direction should you choose!

Did you find this information useful?

We hope you did. Please share it with your friends and anyone you know who’s looking for a Kanata chiropractor. You can also follow Hazeldean Family Chiropractic on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, where we regularly post on other health-related topics. Our website also has great information about Chiropractic care and other health topics, such as selecting the proper pillow for your sleeping habits.

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