When I see a patient for the first time, we will sit down together so they can tell me everything that is going on. Then I will perform a chiropractic exam to look at their spine and overall alignment of their body. As the picture of the underlying condition and the solution emerges, it is my job to formulate a care plan that will take the patient from where they currently are to where they want to be.
I am usually pretty good at estimating how much time it will take before the patient has sufficiently improved. Certain conditions such as sciatica may take longer than, say, thoracic pain coming from a misaligned rib. Also, in the back of my mind, I am looking at things like the patient’s general fitness, how long they have had their condition and, frankly, how old they are. All these factors will play a role in determining how quickly the patient will recover. And yet, sometimes I will be pleasantly surprised by how quickly some patients improve. By the same token, other patients may take longer to improve than I would have originally foreseen.
The reality is that what the patient does the other 23 hours and 50 minutes of their day, when they’re not seeing me, is going to play a huge role in their recovery. They may be under tremendous stress at work or home which will compromise their body’s ability to heal. In my experience, there even seems to be a genetic factor wherein some people are simply hardier than others. There is no right or wrong. Everybody is different. It is up to me to tailor the care for the individual patient.
For this reason, I usually start with short care plans and then set up a reevaluation to determine how the patient is progressing and to determine the need for further care. I do emphasize to the patient that I don’t necessarily expect them to be completely recovered by the reexam. If they are, so much the better, of course. But I do want to see some type of improvement. Based on that improvement, I can then chart any necessary further care so the patient can make a full recovery.