The simplest way to answer this complicated question is to describe a patient’s starting point in treatment to the ending point. Before we dive into this subject, please understand that the treatment numbers are variable because no two patients are alike and our specific recommendations will be based on each individual case.
Most patient’s that come into the office have some sort of symptom, this can range widely- from simple tension in an area, to debilitating pain that prohibits even the simplest of tasks. If the examination reveals a problem that we can effect, treatment typically requires starting with some frequency that eventually tapers off as the condition improves. This can vary from a few visits spread over a few weeks, all the way to treatment on a daily basis. The factors that help determine this frequency depend on the specific joint/tissue that has been damaged, the amount of degenerative change in the area, and how long the condition has been present. The phase of treatment aimed at reducing symptoms and making positive changes with the functioning of a joint can last two or three weeks to three or four months. It is easiest to compare it to going to the gym, gains are made over time rather than just one workout keeping a person fit long term.
Once we have met the goal of resolving the original complaint/condition, then it becomes decision time regarding the long term outlook. The choice now is between maintaining the improvements that have been gained or picking up treatment again if the patient experiences a return of symptoms. If maintenance treatment is the chosen course, it can range from once every few weeks to once every few months.
On occasion I have had patients ask how the treatment recommendations can vary so widely from one chiropractor to another. This has a lot to do with the specific chiropractor’s practice philosophy. The treatment plans that are more intense and span a much longer time period are based on not only resolving symptoms, but correcting underlying abnormal spinal curvatures. The specific treatment approach should be discussed with the patient at the beginning of treatment.
The most satisfied patients are the ones with goals that match the treatment style of the chiropractor that treats them.