It is not often that I get asked about whether chiropractic is addictive or not, although it has come up from time to time. If you’re not familiar with this concept; the premise is that once you go to a chiropractor and get pain relief, you’ll have to continue going for the rest of your life because the pain will come back and chiropractic care will be the only way to relieve it again. This type of thinking makes little sense to me. Why doesn’t it make sense?
If you have pain that goes away after seeing a chiropractor, that’s great! But if you have to go regularly to stay out of pain, your chiropractor is probably overlooking something critical. That “something” can be anything (structural, chemical, or emotional). Now, you cannot (always) expect your chiropractor to resolve everything without changing the way you live your life. This may include changing your diet, exercise habits, and/or typical activities of daily living. This isn’t always necessary, but it can certainly be a major factor in your path to becoming pain-free. Of course he/she has to guide you on how to do that based on your condition.
It’s totally normal for a chiropractic treatment plan to include three office visits a week for four weeks at the onset of treatment. These are usually more severe cases. Now, I didn’t say three times a week for fifty-two weeks. If you haven’t had a reduction in pain or at least some measurement (e.g.: range of motion) improve after two-to-four weeks of care, your doctor should look to change their approach in treating you. Or he/she should consider using nutritional supplements and/or lifestyle changes.
So, if your pain resolves or abates but then continues to come back, and you find that chiropractic treatment is the only thing that relieves it, you may need a different chiropractor or a different approach in my opinion. People refer to this scenario as “not holding your adjustment”. I still refer to it as “missing something”. We all know one working definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, if you are seeking to change the outcome of your treatment (i.e.: lasting pain relief), but you’re not getting it while your doctor continues to do the same thing over and over, he/she (and perhaps you) may be… That’s not to say that every single thing a chiropractor “fixes” will remain “fixed”. My general rule of thumb is that if I have to do the same thing more than three times, I’m missing something; or the patient might not be complying with what I’ve asked them to do (dietary, exercise, lifestyle, etc.).
Of course, there is the possibility that you may need to see another chiropractor or another type of doctor. And hopefully your doctor will refer you to another practitioner and admit that the treatment doesn’t seem to be working. If your doctor doesn’t give you a referral, hopefully you’ll “refer” yourself to another practitioner or approach.
So this concept of chiropractors being “addictive” doesn’t really make any sense. Again, if you need to go back to your chiropractor to remain pain-free, your chiropractor should try a different approach to treatment, he/she should refer you out, or you should seek treatment from a different practitioner.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some individuals who are chronically in pain that have actually tried everything. If chiropractic helps this type of individual, where there are no other options, I do feel it is appropriate to continue with chiropractic care despite not being able to fully resolve the condition.
Even the best chiropractors can’t “fix” everyone. The late George J. Goodheart, Jr., DC, DIBAK, founder of applied kinesiology, used to say (something along the lines of this) to his students: “The universe sends you patients to fail on so that you can learn something new to help others”.
Do realize that there is a difference between wellness care and “addictive” care. I’ll discuss that in another article.
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology