Before anyone goes to see a chiropractor, especially if they are a new patient and have never been before, there are questions that are on their minds. Dr. Tyler Hamel has been a practicing chiropractic doctor for over 20 years, and he says when it comes to patients seeking back and neck pain relief the two most common questions have to do with what the actual diagnosis is and how long will it take to get better. Let’s separate these questions and go into more detail.
What Is Causing My Back or Neck Pain?
There are only so many causes of neck and back pain and therefore only so many diagnoses. The most common diagnoses Dr. Hamel sees in his office are cervical segmental dysfunction (misalignment), lumbar segmental dysfunction (misalignment), cervical strain, cervical sprain, lumbar strain, lumbar sprain, cervical disc bulge, lumbar disc bulge, poor posture, facet syndrome, disc herniation, muscle spasm, SacroIliac joint dysfunction, Sciatica and Scoliosis. There are more, but these are the most common.
We must also look at the source of the pain and the cause of the pain, as often times they can be different. For example when this Kingwood chiropractor is evaluating a low back pain patient he will look to see if there are movement restrictions and misalignments in the mid back, the SI joint and the hips. Often times the low back is the source of the pain but not the cause. Very stiff and tight mid back and hips creates significant stress in the lumbar spine and surrounding musculature.
Another common diagnosis, rotator cuff impingement or syndrome can often times be caused by postural stress, mid back inflexibility, anterior rolled shoulders and neck. Those rotator cuff tendons can only handle so much stress, especially when the shoulders are rolled forward. Dr. Hamel goes on to say that it is almost impossible to fix the shoulders or an impingement if you do not fix mid back posture and turn on those postural muscles. Now that we have figured out the diagnosis, cause and source of the pain, how do we fix it and how long does it take?
How Long Will It Take To Feel Better?
Dr. Tyler Hamel develops a specific treatment plan to help each individual get better quickly. The main goal of the treatment is to have the patient be able to do their regular activities of daily living, such as parenting, computer work, driving, going to the gym, golfing, playing tennis, picking up their young kids, taking their dogs for a walk; all with little to no pain. Dr. Hamel practices evidence-based chiropractic, meaning that he recommends chiropractic treatment to his patients based on three things; 1. The results of the thousands of past patients Dr. Hamel has treated, 2. Dr. Hamel’s over 20 years of experience, what he has seen that works and gets patients better quickly, and 3. What does the research show?
In a nutshell the results are this, says Dr. Hamel, those patients who come in and get treatment until the point where they have little to no pain doing their regular activities of daily living seem to do the best short term and long term with decreased back and neck pain. Dr. Hamel’s experience shows the same pattern, those patients who come in for their scheduled treatments and do their recommended corrective/postural exercises get better the quickest, and long term they seem to be much happier and in less pain. Patient who only get adjustments and do not do their homework in corrective exercises, do not respond nearly as well or as quickly when it comes to back and neck pan relief, adds Dr. Hamel.
Ok, so it definitely seems like patient commitment and discipline when it comes to coming in for the their chiropractic treatment and corrective exercises correlates to decreased neck and back pain, and a significantly improved patient satisfaction. Some skeptics might ask, “what does the research show and who’s doing the research?” The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapies conducted the research in 2016 to determine clinical practice guidelines for neck and back pain treatment. Keep in mind that this Kingwood chiropractor is very flexible when it comes to chiropractic therapy and getting results; he wants to get you out of pain quickly, without any long term treatment plans.
The results of this study looked at a one-month treatment time line and looked at percentage of improvement in both disability and pain. The patients went through 30 days of getting a varying number of treatments per week, and they measured improvement levels in both pain reduction and disability reduction. Dr. Hamel believes that disability means not being able to do, or it’s much harder to do your regular daily activities because of back or neck pain; it doesn’t mean you are lying on the couch doing nothing all day. The results of that study showed the following:
- In a 4-week period those patients receiving 1 treatment per week noticed a 36% reduction in disability and a 28% reduction in pain.
- In a 4-week period those patients receiving 2 treatments per week noticed a 41% reduction in disability and a 38% reduction in pain.
- In a 4-week period those patients receiving 3 treatments per week noticed a 60% reduction in disability and a 49% reduction in pain.
- In a 4-week period those patients receiving 4 treatments per week noticed a 74% reduction in disability and a 65% reduction in pain.
That’s what the research shows, and the reason Dr. Hamel believes it is that when you are dealing with spinal and muscular pain, posture needs to be corrected, and in order for posture to be corrected, the patient’s body needs to see the treatment over and over again, and more frequently at the beginning of care. This is very similar to physical therapy, whether you are fixing a shoulder or a neck, that area needs to be trained to improve posture, meaning joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons have to get used to a new and more postural friendly position. How long does a new diet take before you are comfortable with it and start to see results? How long do you go the gym to see positive changes and not be super stiff and sore anymore? The answer to both questions is it takes about 30 days. 30 days is the magical number for your body to get accustomed to a new habit.
The mission of this Kingwood chiropractic doctor is to get his patient’s out of pain quickly so that they can enjoy their daily activities with little to no pain. Some patients come in 3 times a week and they are better in 2 weeks, other patients come in 4 times a week and take 6-8 weeks to get better. The great point here is that the patient knows when he or she has relieved their back or neck pain, and they let Dr. Hamel know when they feel comfortable being released from care. This is all based on patient feedback, and Dr. Hamel truly believes this is what patient’s want and what they deserve. There are some chiropractic doctors out there setting up patient’s on 3 month, 6 month, or yearly plans; the question must be asked, is this for the benefit of the patient or the doctor’s office?