One of the things that can be difficult to learn in life is 'patience'. Patience with our kids, our spouses, our health, our cars, other drivers or just about anything can be challenging. As a chiropractor, sometimes it's patience with my patients!
It is particularly difficult to practice patience when it comes to getting our health back or just waiting to feel better after an injury or illness. A universal law is that there is no process that doesn't take time. Because of our difficulty with patience, and unwillingness to wait the required amount of time for a process to unfold, we often come to expect or even demand quick fixes, such as over the counter pain remedies.
What is found in clinical practice is that the most common problem, that of course requires time to correct, isn't from a serious injury, but from a neglected spine that finally "gave-up" and started severely pinching nerves and producing painful symptoms.
In other words, most problems are 'progressive'. They start silently and build. Both small and large stressors on the spine add up over the years. Many people we see have suffered sports injuries, work injuries, slip/trip and fall injuries and auto accident injuries. These are easy to understand. What is probably just as common however, is the person who walks (or crawls) into the office with severe pain, and cannot figure out what they could have done to themselves to end up that way.
Patients often start to experience relief ranging from the very first visit to a few weeks. How and how soon you respond is based on the severity of your condition, the length of time you have experienced your problem, complicating illness, age, hereditary and other underlying factors. For example, think about the common cold. Each of us responds and heals at a different rate, and each cold can vary until you are feeling better.
It's also important to define "better".....Our goal is to work with each patient to help them achieve their treatment goals. For some this means only wanting to reduce the amount of pain. For others, it means improve function and to strengthen and restore the body so they may continue or return to required activity such as work, or activities they enjoy. And yet for others, their goal is to get well, and stay well in light of a busy, active, and demanding lifestyle.
As a chiropractor, we often hear such dramatic stories as, "all I did was bend-over to pick up my shoe and I couldn't straighten up," or "I just reached out to open the fridge and my neck got all stiff and now I can't turn my head." These are classic examples of the "straw that broke the camels' back," and I see them all the time.
There is nothing in life, that has value and quality
that does not require some regular maintenance.
The spine needs it too. What happens is that without maintenance, vulnerable areas of your spine and supportive muscles weaken and slowly become less able to stabilize your spine. That's why all it may take is that one last straw, as seemingly benign as stooping down to pet the dog, to wipe you out big time.
What is sometimes a shock to people who have come to expect and enjoy quick fixes, is that it will actually take time, diligence and regular care to get back to full working conditions. Could you imagine joining a fitness club, let’s say in September for example, and telling the trainer that by the end of the year you want to look and feel like that trainer or even a bodybuilder, and that you will diligently come in once a month and do whatever it takes? He'd probably tell you to pursue stand-up comedy instead!
Following a thorough chiropractic consultation, examination including x-rays if required, we as chiropractors are usually happy to report to our patients that their condition doesn't necessarily have to stay the same or get worse, but they must follow some specific recommendations and be patient in order to achieve their desired results of eventual reduced pain, swelling and inflammation, not to mention improved spinal/joint alignment and overall health and well being.
We then go on to explain that if the problem took a few years or even decades of silent build-up before the crisis that brought them to the clinic happened, it’s probably going to take some time to even begin resolving it. Fortunately, some good research has emerged regarding spinal rehabilitation in recent years that we put into practice.
While chiropractic care can often relieve pain fairly quickly, like any process, it takes time to actually strengthen and stabilize an area of the spine. It then must be maintained. One of my more senior patients a while back told me she didn't care if it took 5 years to get her good healthy functioning back, since that sounded a lot better than being 5 years deeper in the doo-doo by doing nothing! Well, those weren't her exact words, but you get the idea!
Well, I hope you take the time to make this a really special season for your spine and health. Most importantly, be patient. It's the little things that add up. I recently finished Andy Stanley's thoughtful book, "The Best Question Ever." It is excellent. I'll leave you in suspense for what the question is, but one statement he makes is, "there is a cumulative value to investing small amounts of time in certain activities over a long period."
One work-out or one chiropractic adjustment may not have dramatic results, but with diligence and patience and time, you just might turn back the clock a few years and look and feel better that you ever thought possible.
Source: Dr. Gregg Anderson, DC