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New Study Confirms Benefits of Wellness Care! 

 February 17, 2011

By  Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

Mechanicsville, Virginia — There are a few questions we as chiropractors get asked with some frequency.  One of them is some variation of, “Do you have to go to the chiropractor for the rest of your life if you start treatment?”  Or some combination of questions that are aimed at getting an answer to this.  And as far as I know chiropractors have always advised wellness care (or maintenance care) after a course of acute/corrective care.

Like anything related to health and wellness, it takes maintenance or we lose it.  This isn’t too controversial.  We can’t just brush our teeth once.  Or eat one well balenced meal.  Or go to the gym once and expect a lifetime of results.  So if someone has a damaged or injured spine (causing headaches, sciatica, low back pain, neck pain, disc bulgesmigraines, or numbness for example), it takes work to restore function and help symptoms.  Next, it takes some attention to maintain the ground chiropractic restores.

The medical option is to maintain a course of pills and drugs.  If you have high blood pressure, you take medication for life.  If you have high cholesterol, you take a pill for the rest of your life.  If you have osteoporosis, you take another pill the rest or your life.  If you have arthritis pain, you take another pill for the rest of your life.  Sometimes surgery is needed to put out a “fire.”  But I don’t know any surgeon that would claim surgery restores function back to 100% the way one would be prior to surgery.  Just the presence of scar tissue means one can’t be 100% ever again.    In fact, some surgeries are so notoriously problematic, due to the secondary issues it brings about, they have their own diagnosis.  For example, “failed back surgery syndrome” is an actual diagnosis.  All of this to say, for the person who needs treatment, wether chiropractic or medical, the reality is there is a lifetime of maintenance needed after treatment.  [The necessity of maintenance care has been discussed before on this blog.]

So the question is, is wellness care (regular adjustments after pain has resolved and function restored) beneficial?  There is a recent study that supports that:

Does Maintained Spinal Manipulation Therapy for Chronic Non-specific Low Back Pain Result in Better Long Term Outcome? Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2011 Jan 17.

Dr. Stephanie Maj summaries it nicely:  I’ve quoted her blog below –

“1. One third of them received 12 treatments of sham SMT over a one-month period.

2. One third of them received 12 treatments of SMT during a one-month period, with no follow-up care during the next nine months, and

3. One third of them received 12 SMT visits during the first month, followed by “maintenance” SMT every two weeks, for the next nine months.

To determine any difference among these 3 care groups, researchers measured pain and disability scores, generic health status, and back-specific patient satisfaction at baseline, and at 1-month, 4-months, 7-months, and at 10-months

RESULTS: Patients in manipulative groups (groups 2 & 3) experienced significantly lower pain and disability scores than the sham group at the end of the first 1-month period.

At the 10-month follow-up, only the maintenance group maintained improvements in pain and disability, while the group that only received 1-months care had reverted to their pretreatment pain and disability levels.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first medically managed trial that clearly demonstrates that maintenance care provides significant benefits to those who suffer from chronic low back pain.

Let me know what you think!

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.


Dr. Stover grew up in Richmond. He has been married to his wife Andrea since 2000 and they make their home in Mechanicsville with their children, Avery and Garnett.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

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