So you’ve started visiting a chiropractor to address your neck or back pain. Unlike visits to a doctor, where it usually takes one visit for diagnosis and treatment (often through a prescription), seeing a chiropractor is something that usually occurs over several visits. So at what point in this process should a patient start to feel relief? Is it feasible that tangible results can occur within just one or two treatments?
How soon can you expect relief?
Since the reasons people visit a chiropractor vary from person to person, the amount of time that it takes to find relief will vary. Studies have been conducted to find out how long it takes for all chiropractic patients on average to feel relief and to fully recover after starting chiropractic treatment. These studies have found that the average number of visits that it takes to reach full improvement is 12, and that these visits are usually spread out over 1-2 months. Of the types of conditions that usually send people to a chiropractor, issues of bone misalignment tend to heal the fastest in 5-6 weeks with improved blood flow. Ligament and tendon problems usually take 6 to 8 weeks for full relief, and disc and cartilage problems can take 3 months or more to heal fully.
As a general rule of thumb, many chiropractic specialists abide by a 50% rule. This rule suggests that for every 50% decrease in pain and discomfort that a patient reports, the frequency of chiropractor visits should decrease by 50%. So if you start by seeing a chiropractor twice a week, and in the third week you report that you are in half as much pain as when you started, you should then reduce your visits to once a week. Obviously this is a fairly subjective measure, but in general this tends to work. This approach gives the body more time to heal on its own in between visits once you’ve started receiving treatment. Eventually the visits will no longer be necessary.
Finding a Qualified Chiropractor
While there are plenty of great chiropractors out there, there are just as many that are unqualified, or don’t take the time to ensure that you’re getting exactly what you need. In order for chiropractic care to be effective, it’s important to find a qualified chiropractor who knows how to cater care to your specific needs. If you’re visiting a poorly qualified chiropractor, the answer to when you can expect relief is never!
Ask friends and relatives for recommendations of chiropractors that they have had success with. Or read review online to find a popular and highly rated option near you. Don’t be afraid to ask for a chiropractor’s qualifications and experience over the phone on in person during an initial appointment. The more questions you ask and research you do, the more confident you can be that you’ve found a chiropractor who will provide the highest level of care, and will give you the best chance at natural, long-term improvements to your health.