Many individuals today are frustrated with the current state of healthcare and feel let down. As the chiropractic patient, you deserve to be listened to, assessed thoroughly and guided down a clear path to resolution and success. Often times, those who are injured find themselves more frustrated and confused after seeing a healthcare provider than before. A thorough evaluation and conservative care are not factored into the game plan and as a result, individuals don’t find lasting resolution to their condition. In this article, we will speak specifically about musculoskeletal pain and injuries.
There are 3 fundamental aspects of care you deserve as chiropractic patient
- Comprehensive Evaluation and Assessment
- Conservative Treatment Options
- Prevention Training
Comprehensive Evaluation and Assessment
When patients go to visit their primary care physician or specialist, they are generally given a proper history and consultation but the musculoskeletal system is generally assessed very minimally or not at all. Doctors seldom assess movement, muscle tone or joint function but rather defer to orthopedic tests and potentially diagnostic imaging, followed by medication to “manage” your condition and advice to rest.
As a patient it is important to understand what you should expect from a comprehensive musculoskeletal examination. Following you exam you should be given a clear diagnoses as well as indirect causes for the condition at hand. This should be communicated clearly so that there is no misunderstanding between the physician and patient.
In order determine an appropriate working diagnoses, an evaluation should include at a minimum:
A thorough history & consultation
Functional Movement Assessment
Orthopedic and neurological exam
Muscle and joint palpation
When a healthcare provider includes the 4 above categories in the evaluation, he or she will be able to provide you with a working diagnosis and ultimately the appropriate course of care. At this point, conservation treatment options can be discussed and treatment plan can be custom tailored to your needs.
Conservative Treatment Options
Patients deserve a comprehensive, hands-on approach to their pain or injury. Most chiropractic patient presentations can be classified into a specific group that responds to a particular therapy or combination of therapies. This may include a combination of chiropractic adjustments, manual therapy, rehabilitation exercises, training advice, nutrition counseling or acupuncture. You may not need all of the above conservative therapies, but generally some combination is required for excellent clinical outcomes.
Conservative treatment is not about a “one size fits all” approach. From your first encounter through your treatment plan, every step should be customer tailed to your assessment findings and goals.
One of the most frustrating occurrences for both the patient and the doctor is the re-aggravation of a condition that has already “resolved”. For most conditions, recurrence is over 50% within one year of an episode and this can be due to many factors. Work life, sport, exercise, lack of education can all contribute to recurrence of a musculoskeletal injury. When being treated for a condition and concluding a treatment plan you should expect to discuss the following with you healthcare provider:
- Activities of Daily Living: Ergonomics advice related to activities performed on a regular basis in your life
- Return to Work or Sport: Proper time frame and modifications
- Body Awareness and Preparation: lifting, moving, bending, posture
- Corrective Exercise: Mobility and/or Stability exercises custom to you
- Desk Ergonomics: How to take micro breaks and use proper posture while at work
- Proper Equipment: running shoes, weight belts, braces, etc.
- Skill/Technique training: Exercise or Sport technique from a trained professional
In Summary, as a chiropractic patient there are many potential roadblocks that can prevent you from achieving efficient and lasting relief when working with a healthcare provider for a musculoskeletal injury. The first step is being an informed patient and understands what is to be expected from a quality healthcare experience. I have outlined key points below that you as an informed patient should expect from a provider treating you for a musculoskeletal condition.
- A comprehensive assessment including a thorough history, functional movement assessment, hands-on palpation of joints and soft tissue structures.
- An exam that assessment more than just the area of complaint but the body as a whole to determine the root cause of the presenting complaint. For example a lack of hip mobility and stiffness In the middle back can often contribute to symptoms in the lower back due to over-stress.
- A specific diagnosis based upon the findings in the history and comprehensive exam
- All conservative treatment options explained and discussed in detail as well as an opportunity to ask the physician questions
- Advice beyond pain resolution but also education and training in how to prevent future recurrences or aggravations