Don’t wait till it’s too late! Be proactive not reactive
Thank you to the experienced Eden Prairie Chiropractor, Ian McNeil, who provided this article.
I graduated from chiropractic school in 1999 and now, with over 20 years of experience, one prevailing concept that continues to surface is that people are way too REACTIVE with their health rather than being PROACTIVE.
Health is a journey full of active discovery and educational experimentation. Most health concerns, including spine problems, develop over years as a result of a wide range of causes. Repetitive use injuries, traumas such as accidents and falls, are among the many causes of spine problems.
Correction of spinal problems is a very gradual process that takes weeks, months or often years. This is dependent on the extent of the injury, age of the patient and overall health and strength of the patient. Dr. Clarence Gonstead was a famous chiropractor who ran the largest chiropractic clinic in the world for many years. He had patients come from all over the world as a result of his expertise and unique approach. He would say that spine problems were quite challenging to correct, and healing was very slow. He estimated that the number of years a problem had been present is correlative to the number of months it takes to stabilize and correct the issue.
A common theme and conversation I have daily with patients is that “I Can’t fix it but can certainly help you manage it”. This involves active participation of the patient to support the very specific corrections(adjustments) that we make. At Platinum Chiropractic, we utilize the Gonstead technique and focus on Neurospinal Restoration (NSR). The primary focus of NSR is to identify and correct structural shifts of the spine that create obstruction to neurologic function in the body thus breaking down overall health. This creates a host of secondary conditions, not merely back pain. The active rehabilitation of spinal issues will eventually lead presentation of a wellness opportunity. This is analogous to shifting thoughts from patching potholes on a rough road to creating a new surface and investing in maintaining it over time.
The wellness revolution isn’t a new thought process but a very challenging paradigm shift for some people to make. Eventually, if all else fails, patients turn to a new concept for them in hopes of finding relief or occasionally just a glimmer of hope in a journey that may have been previously frivolous. Although this “last resort” thought process isn’t preferred, it is an opportunity to introduce a new thought process in caring for the body and introducing lifelong wellness care. It is often a tough transition as patients often quickly respond to care and improve dramatically in a short period of time. That rationale, among others, tend to create resistance to the transition toward proactive and wellness care.
Over my years of active practice, I’ve encountered several common thoughts that have been roadblocks to helping patients understand the importance of wellness care. Here are a few of the most prevalent:
1. Magic pill mentality-a quick fix and instant relief of whatever ails people is often the only desire. This is rooted in the thought that medicine is the go-to for all health ailments. Although this paradigm of thought is changing and evolving as a result of education, a great amount of people still subscribe to this flawed approach.
2. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”- an age-old cliché that has stood the test of time. This is interesting mix of an apparent good thing (eating an apple daily for good nutrition) and avoiding doctors. While the root of this idea is very good, doctors come in all disciplines and this only refers to medical doctors and the thought that you only go to the doctor when something is wrong. Many types of doctors, such as chiropractors and naturopaths, subscribe to the concept of wellness and active participation in the health journey.
3. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”- this phrase truly is the anthesis of wellness and the proactive approach. The stubbornness of this thought process as it relates to healthcare is a major barrier to break down in order to move into a wellness paradigm. It is also the prevailing thought behind waiting until a problem is so bad, a patient is somewhat forced to take care of a problem. Within the practice of chiropractic, particularly Neurospinal Restoration, the underlying structural and neurological problem is often different that of the presenting symptom. At Platinum Chiropractic, we frequently discover that the foundation of the spine in the low back and pelvis is the major cause of most spinal issues. Just as the foundation of a house needs to be the most important part of the structure providing strength and stability, the low back and pelvis needs to provide this same stability to the body.
4. Wellness care is expensive- financial concern often goes hand-in-hand with health concerns. Many people have difficulty budgeting for wellness care at many levels. Certainly, eating well, exercising and chiropractic care can be expensive but not nearly as costly as having dramatic long-term health conditions that can cause you to be out of work and need constant medical care. While the wellness lifestyle can’t guarantee results in a person’s health, it is a way to care for the body helping one to get the most out of their life experiences with a vibrant expression.
Managing stress in today’s world proves to be quite a challenge. Every day we are bombarded with physical, emotional and chemical stressors. All 3 types of stress will elicit the same physiologic response in our bodies. Day to day, we can’t control 100% what happens to us, but we can control how we respond. Our lives aren’t defined by what happens to us but how we react and respond to what happens. A positive mental attitude will go a long way in helping our overall health status. Albeit difficult to maintain in this current environment, it is crucial along the path of wellness and the PROACTIVE approach to health.
The Wellness lifestyle and the proactive approach is a journey and certainly not a destination. Daily focus and attention to your well-being and health is a huge commitment but one very worthy of focus and attention. It is a monumental task for some but one step at a time is very easy to do. The process is gradual and invaluable. A famous African cleric, Desmond Tutu once wisely said that “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” What he meant by this is that everything in life that seems daunting, overwhelming, and even impossible can be accomplished gradually by taking on just a little at a time. Apply this to your life and health and BE WELL!
By Dr. Ian McNeil, DC