How long will it take to get relief?
By Robert A. Leach, DC, MS, FICC, CHES
Scientists have established how long it will take for the average new patient to obtain relief when they get chiropractic care. In the case of uncomplicated acute back pain, for example, within 7 days from the start of treatment 60% of cases no longer have symptoms, and within 42 days almost all cases are pain free. If you have uncomplicated chronic back pain after 7 days 40% of cases no longer have symptoms, and by 42 days only 20% of cases still have some back problems.
However, it takes longer to heal if your back pain has “complicating” factors. For example, if you had pain for more than 8 days before you first saw your chiropractor then recovery could take up to 1.5 times longer. Also, if you were in severe pain when you first came to the chiropractor recovery could take up to 2 times longer. If you have a history of 4 or more prior episodes of back pain then recovery could take twice as long. Finally, congenital defects or “weakness” documented on x rays could cause recovery to take from 1.5-2 times longer. You must also keep in mind that if there are multiple complicating factors recovery time could increase a lot. At present we don't have enough research to be able to predict how long it will take for you to find relief from other chiropractic problems like carpal tunnel syndrome, whiplash, tennis elbow, as well as from other associated stress related conditions like neck tension or migraine headache, dysmenorrhea, nervousness, or uncomplicated essential hypertension. However, since the chiropractor is seeking to correct any spinal dysfunction associated with these symptoms, probably the same general rules apply when trying to establish typical recovery time. Ask your doctor of chiropractic for the most current specific research information in order to more accurately project time needed for your recovery, if he has not already advised you about this.
It takes time to get sick, and it takes time to get well. Remember that the heart attack only happens after years of cigarette smoking, inactivity, drinking, stress, high fat diet, obesity, etc. So too, acute severe spinal problems may relate to abnormal work postures, stresses, lifting, bending, stooping, accidents, slips, and falls, obesity, as well as cigarette smoking and drinking which impairs circulation to the discs, joints and muscles, etc. While it may be easy to blame a “back attack” (i.e., ruptured disc, etc.) on pushing the lawnmower, it is likely that it was the triggering event but not the cause of the problem.
To improve the odds of a quicker recovery:
Follow all instructions on do's and don'ts the doctor gives. Do them daily!
Do all home therapies and exercises as prescribed. Ask the doctor before “cutting back” on any recommendations.
Ask the doctor before making trips or starting new or more strenuous activities, and before adding or subtracting medicines or other therapies you may be using. Your doctor of chiropractic may give you specific additional advice, or may want to consult with your other doctors.
©2008 by Robert A. Leach