One of the most common myths about chiropractic care is that once you go, you will be told you have to go for the rest of your life in order to have you pay more over time. There is also worry about how often the appointments may be, if you can have too many, and when they stop being beneficial. While chiropractic care does work best when done regularly, it is not true that chiropractors ask for endless sessions when it is not indicated. The duration of your treatment can vary based on whether you are treating a chronic condition or something acute like car accident injuries, as well as a range of other factors.
Common Treatment Plans
The type of injury you are seeking care for and the personal goals you have for recovery will impact how often you need to visit the chiropractor for adjustments. But as a general rule, most treatment plans will involve more frequent adjustments in the beginning, with frequency reducing over time as the goal becomes maintenance rather than repair.
Most injuries or causes of pain will need somewhere between four and twelve sessions to achieve maximum benefits and alignment. From there, ongoing maintenance will prevent pain from coming back and reduce the chance of additional injuries occurring if the spine becomes misaligned again.
As an example, a regimen for a neck or back injury may look something like the following:
- Week 1 and 2: Between 3 and 4 adjustments per week
- Week 3 to 10: Between 2 and 3 adjustments per week
- Week 10 and on: Once per week or every other week for maintenance
This is a sample, and your treatment plan should be customized to your exact needs and goals.
How Long Is Each Adjustment?
While it may feel like a large commitment to visit the chiropractor multiple times per week, the good news is that sessions are shorter than most doctor appointments you may be used to. The first adjustment can take longer, especially as it will include some physical exams and may be as long as 30 minutes. As you see an improvement in your health, you will see a reduction in time. Most sessions to address your injury will take around 10 minutes.
By the time you are using chiropractic adjustments for maintenance, adjustments can be as short as 5 minutes each. It’s very common for people to use lunch breaks or short breaks before work to get their adjustment.
Do Adjustments Hurt?
Some people are hesitant to schedule multiple adjustments because they fear that it will hurt and be a negative experience. An adjustment itself is not painful, though if you are already in pain, you may feel that exacerbated as you are adjusted. Always tell your chiropractor about any pain you have when you arrive so they can adjust as needed.
The cracking or popping sounds associated with adjustments can scare some people off as they think of it as their bones being cracked. These sounds are primarily coming from releases of air in the joints, or mild movement of the bones as they become realigned.
Some people will experience soreness after a session, similar to what happens after a massage or a workout. This should never be unbearable pain, but more of an aching as the body heals and returns to health.
Is One Adjustment Enough?
Despite recommendations for ongoing sessions, some people will make a single visit to the chiropractor and hope that is enough to solve their problem. A single session will usually bring about some relief and lead to immediate results, though not every time. However, these results are most likely temporary, and the same problem is likely to return in weeks.
Ongoing sessions focus on immediate relief and creating better alignment to promote health going forward. This maintenance serves as prevention for future injuries or worsening of the initial cause of pain. Especially for those with chronic conditions, follow-up sessions are the best way to ensure your symptoms are managed.
If you are worried about the time commitment or creating a schedule, the chiropractors at AICA Orthopedics will work with you to create a realistic plan. For times when you may not be able to make it in, we can also provide stretches and habits that will help you maintain your progress at home between sessions. Any chiropractic care is better than none, so schedule your first consultation with AICA Orthopedics today!