Hello, everyone! This is Dr. Bob Salamon with Lowcountry Chiropractic. I hope you all are doing well and staying well. Surely, we’re all recovering from indulging in our favorite Thanksgiving treats last week. As we move deeper into the holiday season, many of us are searching for ways to give back to our shared community. Before we dive into today’s topic, I’d like to take a moment to share an opportunity to give with you. This year, Lowcountry Chiropractic is hosting an Annual Christmas Food Drive! When you refer a new patient to our office, you’ll receive five tickets for a raffle prize drawing. This new patient will receive a complimentary consultation, exam, and x-rays—all of which are valued at about $191.00, free of charge. All they have to do is bring five non-perishable food items! If you have no friends or family to refer, bring five non-perishable food items down to our office in exchange for a single ticket. You can repeat this up to five times (per person). The prizes on the line include one 50” flat screen TV, two $50 Walmart gift cards, and two one-hour massages. Prizes will be awarded one per person. All food items will be donated to the Lowcountry Food Bank. Make sure you have those non-perishable items to us or have the new patient scheduled before December 22nd, 2021! We look forward to seeing how much food we are able to collect this holiday season for the benefit of our community and we hope you’ll help us!
Today, we’re discussing how chiropractic care can be used as a preemptive measure to lessen the need for surgery. Chiropractic care can be used, in specific instances, to help the body heal and alter the trajectory of an existing ailment, thus precluding the need for surgery. However, there are ailments which can only be rectified through surgery and therefore, regardless of the information shared here today, you should consult with your doctor about the full range of treatment options available to you. That said, no one wants to undergo surgery, for a multitude of reasons. Surgery often entails taking time off from work or school. First, to undergo the procedure. Then, to recover. Invasive procedures are often painful and require patients to consume medication to cope with discomfort and lessen the risk of infection. Even skillfully performed surgeries are likely to leave some kind of scar. For some, the cost associated with surgery is enough to ward them off seeking treatment for their ailment, which only leads to their worsened condition. In this regard, at least, chiropractic care presents an opportunity for individuals to not only manage their existing pain, but also work towards a pain-free future, without surgery.
It’s also important to note: Any reputable chiropractor can assess whether an injury or condition is truly treatable through chiropractic care and will refer you to a specialist or surgeon when necessary. This is merely an aspect of the duty of care between a chiropractor and their patient. While the goal is to reach a patient’s physical goals in the most minimally-invasive manner, when a surgical procedure is the only means of progressing, a chiropractor should do their best to work in tandem with the surgical team to ensure their patient receives the best care during and after their procedure.
Now, to understand why chiropractic care might be presented as an alternative, we must first understand how surgery could be considered the first option to treat musculoskeletal issues. Truthfully, many patients respond to joint or back pain by visiting their primary care doctor. Depending on the doctor, they may refer the patient to a chiropractor or an orthopedic surgeon. If the latter, then we have a clear explanation for why surgery would be the go-to option. Orthopedic surgeons, like chiropractors, seek to treat musculoskeletal issues. However, their mode of practice relies on invasive techniques.
For example, if a patient is suffering from a frozen shoulder, an orthopedic surgeon might recommend rotator cuff surgery. This surgical procedure involves shaving off any bone spurs which might be pinching the nerves in the shoulder and reattaching any tendons or ligaments which have torn. Rotator cuff surgery might be preceded by rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, stretching exercises, or steroid injections. Rotator cuff surgeries are often followed by several months of recovery and rehabilitation. As well, the surgery is associated with a risk of developing complications such as excessive bleeding, infection, and blood clots within the legs and lungs. Finally, even after the surgery, this is a chance the patient will not recover full range of motion in their shoulder joint and will continue to struggle with weakness or pain.
On the other hand, in the same instance of a patient presenting with a frozen shoulder, a chiropractor’s response would be completely different. Chiropractic care is based on manual manipulation of the body’s soft tissues and a handful of other noninvasive techniques. Therefore, a plan would be developed spanning a range from one to six months. During this time, the patient would receive chiropractic adjustments to relieve any subluxations within the spine or neck (which may be contributing to an irritated nerve connected to the shoulder). Similarly, the patient would receive regular massages, with a therapist skilled at expressed deep tissue lesions. The patient might be given a daily physical therapy regimen to follow at home, which serves to help rehabilitate the muscles within the shoulder slowly, over time. Some chiropractors offer laser therapies, electronic stimulation, dry needling, and more. All of these elements combine to give the patient’s body its best chance at healing itself. While surgeries often purport to be cure-all, chiropractic care never claims to cure anything. Rather, chiropractic care is always offered as a means by which the body can be cajoled and stimulated into healing itself.
A study published in Spine journal in 2013 revealed an interesting correlation between the first medical provider a patient visits and their resulting medical care. During this study, construction workers in Washington State who’d filed disability claims for back injuries were the object of fascination. According to the results of the study, 42.7% or nearly half of the workers who visited a surgeon first ended up undergoing surgery to resolve their back injury. Meanwhile, only 1.5% of the workers who saw a chiropractor first ended up undergoing surgery. We might infer from such a significant gap in percentages that many of those surgeries were conducted out of convenience rather than necessity. Likewise, we might also infer, it’s beneficial for those seeking to avoid surgery to see a chiropractor before a surgeon. In regards specifically to back pain, chiropractic care can yield a “significant reduction or elimination” of pain.
Chiropractic care can be used to treat sports injuries, shoulder pain, hip pain, whiplash, headaches, vertigo, plantar fasciitis, sciatica, disc injuries, and much more. Instead of using the type of injury to determine whether surgery or chiropractic care is better, you’d be better served by evaluating your unique needs. How long are you willing to dedicate to the healing process? What risks are associated with the recommended surgery? In comparison, what risks are associated with attempting to treat your injury with chiropractic care first? Are there any financial limitations weighing on your decision? What are your values as an individual? You must take each of these factors into consideration when choosing between surgery and chiropractic care.
In recent years, we’ve seen the true cost of the opioid epidemic. A meta-analysis and systematic review conducted in 2019 revealed patients who visited a chiropractor for their musculoskeletal pain conditions were “49% less likely to receive an opioid prescription than their counterparts who went to other healthcare providers.” The numbers don’t lie—that’s nearly half of the patients who sought chiropractic care. After surgery, intense pain medications present a challenge for those who are predisposed to addiction. As well, surgical complications which lead to prolonged discomfort can result in an unintended dependency upon these prescription drugs. If you’re a recovering addict or have a history of substance abuse in your family, chiropractic care offers a way around the medications necessary for highly-invasive surgeries.
At the end of the day, as a chiropractor, my one and only concern is the health and wellness of my patients. It’s possible to use a combination of chiropractic care and surgery to achieve optimal results. One aspect of my job is assessing what’s best for my patients and working with my patients to tailor a treatment plan which helps them live pain-free. Of course, I hope you’ll consider chiropractic care as an alternative or preemptive measure to surgery. And, if you do, I hope you’ll reach out to us here at Lowcountry Chiropractic. Give us a call or shoot us an email and we’ll respond as soon as we’re able. Remember: I’m Dr. Bob and I have your back covered! Until next time, thank you for reading!
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