Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Are There Benefits To Maintenance or Preventative Chiropractic Care?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, November 13, 2008

Are there benefits to ongoing chiropractic care? Obviously, my answer is “YES!” However, that may sound self-serving, so it is my responsibility to explain why I feel this way.

This sets up an interesting question depending on your definition of “maintenance” or “prevention.” Unfortunately, the current medical definition of prevention consists of early detection of serious disease processes, or using toxic injections whose side-effects are worse than the targeted condition. Also, the current medical definition of maintenance refers to managing incurable disease. What neither of these medically-accepted definitions take account for, and what most doctors and patients ignore, is that both are only beneficial if the serious disease is already present! What kind of prevention is that? Come on, people… let’s try to wake up and smell where the dollars are leading!

Let’s look at just one procedure… mammograms. Evidence and independent studies have shown that 70-80% of “positive” findings are later proven by biopsy to have been false readings. Up to 25% of actual cancer cases are missed by mammograms. Mammograms use high doses of ionizing radiation to create an x-ray image of the breast tissue. Ionizing radiation has long been known to increase the activity of cancerous cells, and can actually cause cancer. Research has shown that up to 52% of women may have dormant (non-active) cancerous cells in their breasts that may never change or become active… but, the exposure to high doses of radiation can actually activate these cells. So, for many women, regular mammograms may actually increase their chance of developing cancer. A recent study found that for every 2,000 women who received mammograms over a 10-year period, only one would have her life prolonged, but 10 would endure unnecessary and potentially harmful treatments. What’s not examined in these studies is how incredibly profitable these tests are to the cancer industry. Mammograms aren’t pushed aggressively because they detect cancer… they’re pushed because mammograms make them money. But sadly, that is what many consider “preventive” care.

Our health status is in a constant state of flux. Picture your health on a scale of zero to ten, where zero is on death’s door and ten is the epitome of health. In other words, the higher the number the healthier you are. At any given time, you can ask yourself where you are at on that scale. In addition, ask yourself if certain actions will increase your number (healthier), decrease your number (sicker), or keep your number the same (maintaining). Obviously, we would like to make decisions and take actions that will move us toward the higher end of that scale. To me, “preventive” care should be something designed to prevent or minimize a move to the lower end of the scale, and facilitate a move toward the upper end of the scale. This means the benefits must outweigh any negatives. This also means the benefits must be significantly better than doing nothing. Beyond symptomatic change, what will be the underlying functional benefits?

So, back to the original question of the thread: Once the active care for addressing the initial presenting complaint is complete, are there any benefits to continuing with preventive or maintenance care? Well, from a structural or functional point-of-view, you’d have to answer, “Yes.” I’ve been asked by patients how often I get adjusted. In the past, I have non-chalantly answered, “Once or twice per month,” and then I’ve moved on. However, recently my answer got me to thinking… “If I’m so healthy, have so few complaints, and so few pains, why do I continue to get regular adjustments?” My answer is that I know my regular chiropractic care helps me constantly move toward that higher end of the scale. A chiropractic adjustment goes way beyond a “back pop,” or reduced pain and restriction. The adjustment optimizes the ability for the entire nervous system to function at its highest possible level. Since the nervous system controls and coordinates nearly every function within the body, this is an essential part of my health regimen. As important as proper nutrition, exercise, and enough sleep, a well-functioning nervous system is crucial to health. Healthy or sick, chiropractic care is a form of health care with incredible upsides and relatively non-existant downsides.

Put it this way… if your car is working fine, why would you change the oil? If you’ve still got teeth in your head, why would you visit the dentist? After answering those questions, ask yourself, “What’s the difference between maintenance on the car, and maintenance on the body?” Better still, ask yourself, “What’s more important, maintenance on the car or maintenance on your body?” Face it. If your car breaks down, you can buy a new one. If your body breaks down… then what?

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6 Responses to “Are There Benefits To Maintenance or Preventative Chiropractic Care?”

  1. Amy Hengst said

    That is an interesting perspective on mammograms, I had no idea they could actually induce cancerous cells to start mutating…
    I believe in the benefits of preventive care in general, and in the ability of chiropractic care to solve certain kinds of problems.
    As a consumer and health blogger I am wondering why chiropractic care in particular is good for preventive treatment, especially in comparison to other kinds of treatments consumers can get–like acupuncture, massage, etc.? Should the type of regular preventive treatment depend if the person is trying to treat a certain condition, or what their personal health quirks are for example? Do people’s bodies react to different types of treatments differently?

  2. Dr. Gray said

    Good questions, Mrs. Hengst. Personally, with regards to preventive or maintenance care, I don’t consider chiropractic as a separate and distinct procedure. Merely an integral part of an overall healthy regimen designed to optimize the function of the body. A healthy diet, regular exercise, stress relief techniques, dental checkups, medical checkups, chiropractic checkups, and detoxification are all necessary aspects of a healthy lifestyle. These are things to be done without regards to signs or symptoms, male or female, or current expression of health.

    When you begin discussing certain conditions or “health quirks,” you are beginning to address individualities between patients that should be addressed with whatever treatment or method works best for that patient. Sometimes that means chiropractic. Sometimes that means acupuncture. Sometimes that means meditation. Sometimes it means do nothing and let the body work.

    For example, if you return from an evening out to dinner and rapidly begin feeling queasy followed by vomiting, are you sick? The average person’s reaction would be to interpret this as being sick and resort to Tums, Pepto-Bismol, or some other chemical designed to ease the pain and discomfort of vomiting. However, a thinking person would realize that they are not sick… their body is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. They’ve most likely eaten tainted or spoiled food, and their body is expelling the bad stuff. Slowing or stopping this natural process is the worst thing someone could do!

    And, Yes. People respond to different types of treatment in a myriad of ways. There is no magic pill, magic adjustment, or magic whatever that will work for every patient in every case. However, there are reasons why I listed the things above as a necessary part of most everyone’s regular health schedule. A healthy diet and exercise is a no-brainer; we all know we need these. Stress relief because we are all exposed to stress on a regular basis, and we either deal with in a healthy manner or it will eat us alive. Dental, medical, and chiropractic checkups because early detection is the greatest factor in improving one’s ability to fight a body dysfunction (illness); and, each profession has a distinct specialty in which they are uniquely qualified to evaluate. Detoxification because we live in a toxic society, surrounded and infiltrated by chemicals, radiation, additives, preservatives, etc. If our body is too busy trying to clean itself out, it won’t have the extra energy it needs to truly express optimum health.

  3. Amy Hengst said

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. Would you mind if I quote/repost some of your comments on my blog at some point, with a link back here? I write mainly about repetitive stress injuries, their treatment, and about general health as well, because I think a lot of this kind of injury happens when people aren’t doing the preventive maintenance and care you’re mentioning. The blog’s at http://www.rsihealer.com.

    • Dr. Gray said

      You are more than welcome to repost some of this information. I would appreciate being cited with a link. I’ve bookmarked your site, and will add your feed to my reader so I can keep up with your blog. I encourage you to do the same with mine, and we can stimulate some good information for our patients and readers. Take care, Doc

  4. Amy Hengst said

    Thanks very much! I have your blog in my reader too. I’m definitely interested in promoting discussion and learning more, to help keep my readers informed. Best regards…Amy

  5. […] Gray advises his patients to get regular chiropractic care to help their bodies stay properly adjusted, because getting […]

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