What is Relief versus Corrective Care?
There are so many types of care that it is often confusing for the patient to understand what the differences are, and why and when different forms of care may be necessary. Here we’re going to focus on the patient who is in acute pain, regardless of whether or not they have been to a chiropractor previously.
Sometimes patients will have a specific spinal problem such as a straight neck or back, termed a hypolordosis or kyphosis that is observed on radiographic examination. This type problem, unlike minor misalignments that different doctors may disagree over, is readily observed and both medical doctors (i.e., radiologists trained to read x-rays) and the chiropractic doctor should find agreement that, in this case, the neck has lost its normal curvature or lordosis, as in B or C below (Used by permission, ©Robert A. Leach).
Chiropractors have observed for decades that spinal alignment appeared to improve in a significant number of patients after a series of chiropractic adjustments. In these cases the chiropractor would even have before and after the x rays that appeared to show improvement in spinal alignment. The chiropractor told the patient that there was a bone out of place, (i.e., vertebral subluxation complex), and it was now “back in place”. However, except for a limited number of cases, it appears that minor misalignments do not correlate with pain, and there is no valid evidence that chiropractic care reduces them, except for a specific type of misalignment called “retrolisthesis”.
In contrast, by 1983 the first article appeared in a peer reviewed, indexed, biomedical journal that specifically documented the role of chiropractic adjustments in reducing or “correcting” whiplash (i.e., a straight neck or hypolordosis seen on the side view x ray). Since that time more than a half dozen clinical investigations appear to confirm the role of chiropractic “corrective care” for this and similar disorders.
Patients almost always first present themselves at the chiropractic office seeking only Relief Care, or enough care to bring an end to the current suffering. However, there is evidence that for many patients Corrective Care beyond relief may help slow down progression of arthritis, and improve activities of daily living disability and pain.
When the doctor recommends Corrective Care to realign specific misalignments or whiplash, the goal may include including exercise with adjustments, to help prevent headaches, neck or back pain, and even disc or arm or leg pain, tingling or numbness from developing and from returning.