By Sean Moffett, D.C.
Vaca Valley Chiropractic
97-A Dobbins Street
Vacaville, CA, 95688
Over the years as a chiropractor, I have discovered some common roadblocks that inhibit many patients from experiencing the most from their chiropractic care. I understand that all of you have unique circumstances in your life that may prohibit you from following through with recommendations listed below. These recommendations are to help you avoid mistakes that others have made during the course of their chiropractic program. In the event that you CAN follow through with these recommendations, I am confident that you will be healthier and happier for it!
It is our goal to help as many people as possible achieve their maximum health potential through the use of chiropractic care. Everyone who enters this office is unique. And every unique person has circumstances that determine how healthy or unhealthy that person is. Some patients respond very quickly to care, others much slower. Some patients require many visits while others require fewer visits. But one thing remains the same: Within the framework of every living person is a force or energy that we refer to as LIFE. From day one, this energy (that created you) continues to flow through nerves and direct EVERY single function within your body until the day that we perish.
Thus, our job as chiropractors is very simple. We help in facilitating the expression of this "life energy" by releasing pressure from pinched nerves, allowing you to experience better health as the result. It is important that you understand that our goal, as it applies to your health, is NOT to treat nor mask the symptoms of pain! On the contrary, we see pain as being a very important tool utilized by the body, designed to protect you from additional injury. Allow me to explain. Most cars are equipped with a sensor in the engine and a light in the dash, designed to warn you when the oil level in your engine has dropped dangerously low. What would happen to your car if you chose to ignore that blinking oil light? It wouldn't take long before serious, and sometimes irreversible, damage would occur. That is why the chiropractic philosophy does not approach health by introducing toxic medications that are designed to merely mask symptoms. However, once the underlying cause has been addressed and before the condition is completely resolved, pain is often the first thing to go away.
- Follow through with your chiropractic program in its entirety. Avoid the mistake that some patients have made, discontinuing care as soon as the pain is gone. In choosing to do so, it is likely that the problem will return and the process will have to be started all over again. What negative response would you expect during orthodontic care if the braces were removed prematurely? Remember, removing pain is only a positive consequence of care, not the goal.
- Chiropractic care is much like an exercise program. You must be consistent over a period of time before the results of your hard work begin to emerge. What type of results would you expect if you reported to the gym only once or twice a month? That is why it is so important to make up any missed appointment right away!
- If at any time you experience discomfort during the course of care, apply an icepack to the affected region for 15-20 minutes. Do NOT apply the ice directly to the skin. I recommend that you soak a thin washcloth in warm water, ring it out, and use it as a barrier between the icepack and your skin. This may be repeated every hour until you feel relief.
- It is a great idea for you to take time to rest on the adjustment table prior to your treatment. This takes stress off of the joints, allowing for a more comfortable adjustment
- If time permits, spend a few minutes walking around before you get back into vehicle following an adjustment. You are likely to find that your adjustments will hold better.
- In the event of a new or recent injury, or a flare-up of an old injury, apply ice to the injured site right away. Avoid heat! No hot tubs! No hot showers! No hot baths! It may feel good while you are applying it, but hours later, watch out!
- Get plenty of sleep. A minimum of 8 hours is recommended for the first two weeks of care. More than 8 hours may be necessary if you are older, your health is poor, or if your injuries are substantial.
- When sleeping, it is best that you sleep on your back. You should use a cervical pillow to support the natural curve in your neck. You should also bend the knees and place a supportive pillow under your bent knees.
- If sleeping on your back doesn't sound appealing, try sleeping on your side. When sleeping on your side, bend the knees and place a pillow between your bent knees. The supportive pillow under your head should be just thick enough to keep the head level. Avoid the temptation to sleep with big, fluffy, oversized pillows. Doing so can torque the neck causing you to wake up very stiff and sore.
- If you find that you go to sleep feeling great but wake up each day feeling awful, it may be time to retire your mattress. For an averaged sized person, an average mattress has a life expectancy of up to 8 to 10 years. Look for dips or valleys in your mattress. This is a sure sign that it is time to go mattress shopping!
- When purchasing a mattress, the goal should be support as well as comfort. A firm mattress usually is best. It is good to buy a mattress that comes with a trial period or an unconditional guarantee. This will give you the opportunity to see if your new purchase is a good one.
- If you work on a hard surface such as concrete, it is important that you wear supportive shoes. If possible, place a rubber mat in the areas that you spend the most time standing.This alone can prevent future problems.
- Take an opportunity to look at the soles of your most frequently worn shoes. Look for uneven wear patterns. Does everything look symmetrical? Are you wearing out one side of the heel more than the other? This can be suggestive of imbalances within the foot, ankles, or pelvis that may require correction. Correcting such imbalances will surely allow you to better hold your adjustments.
- Eat a balanced diet. Proper nutrition is necessary for proper healing to occur. Supplementing with a quality multi-vitamin/multi-mineral product is always a good idea!
- Drink plenty of water. When tested, most people are found to be moderately dehydrated. Appropriately hydrated tissues are less likely to become injured. Which type of branch is easier to brake? A dry one, or a wet, green one? Clear urine is a good indicator that you are drinking enough water. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages as they are often the culprits in causing dehydration in many individuals.
- Take time to learn as much as you can about health. The more that you know about health, the likelier you are to be healthy!
- If you are a smoker, QUIT SMOKING! Cigarette smoking aggravates ALL conditions.It reduces your body's ability to carry oxygen. Good oxygenation of the tissues is a must for appropriate healing to occur!
- Avoid prolonged periods of any single posture, especially sitting. It is important that you keep moving. If you are required to sit at work, get up and move around after every 45 minutes to an hour.
- In the early phase of treatment and when you are in acute pain, avoid long trips in the car. Sitting and bouncing is likely to aggravate any injury that you may have.
- Avoid "self-adjusting". As your condition improves you will note the desire to do this will lessen.
- Avoid junk food! Sodas contain phosphates that can leach necessary calcium from your system. I often get a chuckle while at the gas station, finding it funny to watch someone walk out of the store with a hot dog and soda in hand, stopping to put super unleaded gas into their car. Does this make sense to you?
- Avoid diet foods and drinks that contain aspartame (aka Nutrasweet, Equal, and Spoonful) This chemical is known to be toxic to the nervous system and cause a variety of neurological symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, numbness, blurred vision, anxiety, vertigo. . .to name just a few.
- Men, get away from putting the wallet in the back pocket and sitting on it. Sitting on thick wallets can knock your back, hips, and pelvis out of alignment. Instead, try thinning-out your wallet and/or put it in a jacket pocket. ANYWHERE but the back pocket while you sit.
- Women, what in the world are you carrying around in those unbelievably heavy purses? If you can possibly do with out it, leave it at home or in the car. Lighten up the load and try alternating the carrying responsibilities between BOTH shoulders.
- Avoid watching television while lying in bed. Unless you have your TV mounted near your ceiling, this posture forces an awkward position upon your neck and upper back
- If you spend a lot of time reading or writing, do your best to avoid extended periods of time looking downward. Consider purchasing a desk with an option to incline such as a drafting table. This will allow your materials to be at an angle that is less challenging to your neck and back. Remember to take frequent breaks in order to stand and stretch. Sit upright, draw your shoulders back, and elevate your chin, looking upwards. This helps in easing tension away from strained joints and muscles.