I always ask a new patient if they have previously seen a chiropractor. If the patient has never seen a chiropractor, I make it a point to explain the process in a bit more detail as we go along. If they have seen a chiropractor, I’m interested in how their experience went. Usually it was a positive one. Occasionally, I will have a patient who did not have a good experience. In this case, I’m especially glad they came to see me so that I can give them a different experience. I’m also glad that they did not give up on chiropractic entirely based on one occurrence. Sadly, many people do. Even more sadly, other people will hear about that one negative experience and then they, too, will generalize it. So we are left with a whole group of people, perhaps some of them in chronic pain, that never gets the healing potential of chiropractic.
I have never heard anyone say that they went to a medical doctor once or a dentist once, had a bad experience, and gave up on medicine or dentistry as a profession. And yet, for reasons I can’t fully understand, some will see a particular chiropractor, have a bad experience, and universalize that to the entire profession.
One of the strengths of chiropractic is that there are over 200 different recognized techniques that comprise the profession. Thus, everything from the traditional “getting your back cracked” to techniques that use the most minimum of forces are available depending on the individual chiropractor’s specialty and focus (as my patients know, my particular technique lies somewhere in between). For this reason, it’s impossible to pigeonhole the entire profession based on one or two experiences.
I will also see patients occasionally lose patience (pardon the pun) with the process of healing. While sometimes pain will arise from an accident or traumatic event, most of the time people come to see me with issues that have accumulated from years of stress and life’s wear and tear. Think of a car with a lot of miles as opposed to a car in an accident. Just as the wearing out of the spine is a process, similarly, healing the spine is a process as well. I don’t know of anyone who goes to the gym a couple times then looks in the mirror to examine their muscles and expects to see a significant change. On the contrary, the first few visits to the gym may be slightly painful as the body accommodates changes. Although many people do experienced significant relief in just a few visits, chiropractic is at its best when applied consistently over a period of time to make long-lasting changes.