Recently I have had several patients that I haven’t seen in a while approach me and say something along the lines of the following:
“Hey do you remember that issue I had last year? It’s back! What gives?!?!”
I responded in kind with this:
“Have you been occasionally doing the homework I told you to do?”
They then begrudgingly answered:
“No. I thought once it was gone it was gone for good and I could stop!”
In a perfect world this would be true and once we did something successfully once we would never have to do it again. Unfortunately, this rarely occurs. Here are some examples you might be familiar with:
We go to the dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and they tell us to brush, floss, and mouthwash daily between visits. If we don’t we get: gingivitis, plaque build up, bad breath or cavities. Who doesn’t regularly brush their teeth?
We wash our cars when they are dirty and because if we don’t, they look like crap and will eventually rust (at least here in Wisconsin).
We try to be conscious to eat properly and exercise so we don’t get fat. Fried food and Netflix is easy and comforting, but eventually you’ll start seeing muffin tops not just on your plate but more frequently at your waistline in the mirror.
We have to reapply sunscreen every few hours so we don’t get a sunburn or potentially get skin cancer. Take it from my personal experience- not doing this could result in some silly looking sunburns and a chance to do your best snake impression in a few days.
If you have ever had braces, the orthodontist will tell you to wear a retainer even after the braces come off to maintain your newly straightened pearly whites. If you don’t they may become crooked again.
I have not done my job. As their health care practitioner, I have failed them in a key facet of care: education. I am very firm in believing that chiropractic or soft tissue care on my part is essential to many issues I come across with patients. I am also stern in assigning my patients what I have dubbed, ‘homework’–home exercises and awareness tips for them to follow to ensure the work that I do and the progress that they make stays with them. I often quip with new patients, “You have two options: you could see me X amount of times that I have suggested and do the homework I give you, or you could not do the homework and possibly see me twice as much and pay me twice as much. Either way I will be happy, but I believe you will be much happier with the first option!”
Many of my patients follow these directions and see amazing results, praising my approach and thankfully telling friends and family. The problems lies when the most apparent problem goes away and I no longer see them as frequently–when there’s no more pain and they believe that no pain is equal to no problem. This is where I have failed them in education. Awareness and self-care should never stop. The more active your lifestyle is the more you should take care of yourself to ensure that problems do not arise. Just like going to the dentist, caring for your vehicle or putting on sunscreen, properly caring for your spine and posture is an ongoing process. You can get new teeth, a new car or even remove skin cancer surgically. You have one skeleton and you’re stuck with it. Even if there is no pain, there is likely some dysfunction that is just waiting for you to lose your awareness so it can snowball back into a painful problem. Take care of it!
If you have no clue how to maintain your body and want more information, shoot us an email at [email protected] or just check out selectspineandsport.com for more nuggets of knowledge. If you still aren’t sure about what your issue is, call us at (414) 939-5045!