Did you know that 50% of patients visit a chiropractor simply to maintain their health and wellbeing? Research has shown that it’s really important to keep your spine working well, even if you don’t have pain or symptoms.
Maintenance care is when patients go to a chiropractor even when they are not in pain or discomfort. The idea with maintenance care is that regular adjustments will help maintain your spine and nervous system function at its optimal level and help you to be your best and to prevent new episodes of pain developing(2).
The research tells us that your spine can get run down too, long before you feel pain. We know that if your brain doesn’t send appropriate protective messages to your core trunk muscles you will have a higher risk of developing low back injuries (3). So, if you end up in pain from tying your shoelaces your pain hasn’t really just come out of the blue. It’s often the thousandth straw that breaks the camel’s back. The goal of maintenance care is to help take the straws off your camel’s back before they cause symptoms or have a big impact on your life.
A study published by researchers from Sweden in 2018 (4) showed the benefits of maintenance care in a group of people who suffered from low back pain. In this study, the researchers followed 328 patients with low back pain who went to 40 different Swedish chiropractic clinics. If the patients responded well when they were first adjusted they joined the study and either received chiropractic maintenance care over the next year or symptom guided care. The maintenance care patients were seen every one to three months. Patients in the control group were told to call if and when pain recurred. They were then adjusted until they got better, and they were told to call again if the pain returned. What the researchers were most interested in was the number of days of bothersome back pain suffered by each group throughout the one-year trial period.
What they found was that the maintenance care group experienced 13 fewer days of pain over the course of the study on average compared to the symptom-guided group. The amazing thing from this study was that the maintenance care group needed less than two extra visits to their chiropractor over the course of a year to have 13 fewer days of pain. This suggests that patients who have had low back pain, who respond well to care, should see their chiropractor regularly, irrespective of whether their symptoms have returned or not.
This study did have some limitations. One limitation was that chiropractors were told not to schedule their maintenance care patients more frequently than once a month. So some patients in this group may have benefited even more if the chiropractors had been able to schedule their visits more frequently if they thought that was a good idea. This study shows that it’s really important to keep your spine working well, even if you don’t have pain or symptoms.
So, if you want to function at your optimal potential consider chiropractic maintenance care because the research suggests your spine will love you for it!