Stages of Care
Chiropractic acute care, supportive care and maintenance care should be defined in separate categories, although the primary purpose of each being the preservation of the optimal status of the patient’s spinal health.
Acute Care: 6-8 weeks
In the initial phase following a trauma or injury, care is provided to restore the integrity and balance of the spinal column. The primary purpose is the alleviation of irritation leading to pain and discomfort. In the acute phase of care, visits may be more frequent in order to restore and maintain the structural balance and integrity of the spine. In doing so, this creates the environment of balance most optimal for healing and recovery. The length of time of acute care varies dependent on many factors, some of which are intensity and severity of the injury or trauma, the existing of prior injuries or traumas, patient compliance with recommendations, past history of other conditions or diseases and consistency of care. These are some conditions affecting the patient’s initial responses and subsequent responses to care. Following acute care, supportive care is provided.
Supportive Care: 6-8 months
Once a patient has received relief from an injury or chronic illness, the subsequent challenge is to prevent the recurrence of symptoms and instability of the spine. This may require a program of supportive care based upon the doctor’s analysis of the patient and their judgement as to follow-up examinations and continuing care. Adjustment may be required to maintain integrity and stability of the spine. The object of such supportive care is to prevent recurrence or reactivation of the condition and thus to keep the patient productive in his/her occupation or activity.
Maintenance Care: as needed
Many employers, patients and chiropractors consider a program of preventive health care service to be in the best interests of the patient or employee. This may consist of periodic examinations of the patient for the purpose of determining whether the patient will be benefited by chiropractic adjustments for the elimination of spinal imbalance, regardless whether there has been any complaints of symptoms. In this sense, maintenance care is preventive care. The examination or analysis may or may not reveal the need for chiropractic adjustments. Adjustments given under such circumstances would be preventive and without an awareness, on the part of the patient, of adverse symptoms.
For clarification of the above, it should be understood that chiropractic care deals primarily with the integrity of the spinal column, its immediate articulations and their relationship with the nervous system. It is that very spinal integrity, functional in nature, which can be weakened, either temporarily or permanently through trauma, degenerative disease, lack of exercise, chronic misuse or other life events which may require periodic care. It is truly in the best interest of the patient not to allow a functionally weakened area of the spine to progress to a symptomatic level if such can be prevented through examination and appropriate care if needed.