Skip to content

When Should I Stop Chiropractic Care?

man-thinking-one-eye-closed-sq-400If you are seeking relief for your back pain through chiropractic care, it can be frustrating to not get the results for which you hope. It can be hard to know how long you should be patient waiting for results, and when it is time to get a second opinion or try a new therapy to get rid of your back pain.

I have been a practicing chiropractor for more than 20 years. As such, I believe that setting expectations for my patients’ recovery is one of the most important parts of my job. Helping patients understand the limits of what chiropractic care can achieve is vital to developing a trusting relationship.

In this article, I will discuss how to set your expectations and measure your treatment progress in chiropractic care.

Setting Expectations for Chiropractic Care

At your first visit to a chiropractor, your chiropractor will determine if chiropractic care is right for you. Items your chiropractor will check include your:

  • Medical history: Fully understanding your medical history and pain experiences are crucial to set a chiropractic treatment course.
  • Medical records: Medical records and copies of tests like X-rays, CT scan results and MRI results can help your chiropractor determine your spine’s condition. Understanding your spine’s condition is important to determining successful treatment goals, and a timeline to achieve them.
  • Goals of care: Your chiropractor can help you set realistic goals of care for your treatment. For example, if you suffer from chronic migraines, your chiropractor may help you set a realistic goal of fewer monthly migraine days and less severe migraine-related pain, instead of a possibly unrealistic goal of never again experiencing a migraine.

Measuring Your Chiropractic Treatment Progress

After your treatment goals are set at your first chiropractic visit, your chiropractor should regularly track your treatment progress. Generally, your progress is measured against your baseline or starting point.

Some treatment progress baselines are subjective, while others can be measured via objective tests and imaging. Examples of baselines include:

  • Your pain levels
  • The frequency of your pain
  • Activities that aggravate your pain
  • How your pain impacts your quality of life, like your mood
  • How your pain impacts your activities, like work and sleep
  • Your range of motion
  • Orthopedic and neurological exams
  • Orthopedic measurements
  • X-ray spinal imaging
  • Spinal tests like MRIs

At regular intervals, your chiropractor should re-assess your progress to see how you are responding to chiropractic care. Often, your chiropractor will re-evaluate your results within 30 days after you start treatment to see how much you have improved from your baseline.

Your chiropractor will consider various factors during your re-evaluation. Items your chiropractor will check include:

  • Is your condition improving with treatment?
  • Will your condition keep improving with continued treatment?
  • Is continued treatment still necessary?
  • Should a different treatment be considered?
  • Should the frequency of treatment change?
  • Should new imaging or tests be ordered?
  • Should you be referred to another type of provider for other kinds of care?

Your chiropractor should keep an open channel of communication, informing you about the results of their assessments. Further, you should always feel free to ask your chiropractor about your progress and expectations for your future treatment. These conversations will help you determine whether continued chiropractic treatment is likely to help you.

How Long It Takes to Expect Results from Chiropractic

How quickly you see results from chiropractic depends on your medical history and reasons for seeking chiropractic care. For example, a person using chiropractic to treat pain from chronic degenerative disc disease may have a different treatment course than a person using chiropractic to treat whiplash after a car accident. Your chiropractor will periodically reassess your treatment progress to make sure chiropractic is helping your condition.

Knowing When to Try a Different Treatment

Because everyone’s situation is unique, it is impossible to give a blanket recommendation about knowing when it’s time to stop chiropractic and try something else.

However, asking yourself some questions can help lead you to a conclusion about sticking with chiropractic or not. These include:

  • Has your condition improved from baseline? This includes both subjective improvements in factors like your pain levels, as well as objective improvements in your spinal measurements or imaging.
  • Has your chiropractor re-evaluated your condition at regular intervals? Re-evaluation within 30 days after starting chiropractic is important to keep track of any improvements you may be experiencing. Your chiropractor should not only perform this re-evaluation but also keep you updated with their treatment strategy.
  • Has your chiropractor communicated their expectations for your treatment? Your chiropractor should keep you up to date on their treatment plans based on your re-evaluation. However, you should feel free to ask them if they have not told you, or if you are unclear on what their thoughts are for your continued treatment.
  • Have you made recommended lifestyle changes? Your chiropractor will often recommend lifestyle changes and treatments for you to do on your own time. These may vary widely, including exercises as well as dietary changes. Make sure you have committed to trying recommended changes before deciding that chiropractic care does not work.

Open and Honest Communication at Precision Spinal Care

As a certified NUCCA chiropractor and credentialed spine care specialist, I believe that trust and open, honest communication are key to any successful patient/doctor relationship. At your first visit, I will thoroughly examine your spine and discuss my evaluation.

I will make sure you have the time to answer any questions you have about chiropractic care. Most importantly, I will be honest with you about what chiropractic treatment can – and cannot – achieve in terms of your care goals.

Sometimes chiropractic is not the best solution for your needs. In those cases, I will recommend the type of specialist who can help you reach your health goals.

If chiropractic care is the best treatment strategy for you, we will work together as a team. We will jointly develop a chiropractic treatment plan to meet your health needs. I make sure to set reasonable expectations and milestones for your recovery. At regular intervals, I will reevaluate you to make sure you are meeting these goals and that chiropractic remains the best choice for you.

We understand that you need to explore all your options when you look for expert chiropractic care. At Precision Spinal Care, we are happy to help you determine the best way to address your specific needs and discuss all the options with you and your family.

Call our office at (757) 382-5555 to speak to the doctor or set up a consultation. You can also set up an appointment through our webpage.

Add Your Comment (Get a Gravatar)

Your Name


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.