Keys to Your Practice: Information therapy
Four things every chiropractic patient should know
By Angelo Santin
There is a lot of buzz lately within the profession in regards to becoming spinal care experts and increasing the utilization of chiropractic. I am a huge fan of more people using chiropractic care as a lifestyle choice. Most of the talk, however, is focused strictly on back pain. I believe we would be doing patients a disservice if all we did for them was to fix their back pain.
I believe patients need information therapy just as much as spinal therapy in order to improve their health and overall well-being. I want to share with you the four things every patient must absolutely know before they drift away from care.
1. How the body heals
Patients often believe that healing comes from outside sources like creams, bandages, stitches and pharmaceuticals. As we all know, this is not always true and this type of thinking can be dangerous to a person’s health. It is our duty to share the truth. Healing comes from within, and a properly functioning spine and nervous system is necessary for this healing to occur. If you communicate this artfully you will challenge patients’ thinking and their current beliefs. This is a positive first step in the patient education process.
2. What symptoms mean
We are living in a symptom-driven society more than ever. Most people enter into our office because they are struggling with symptoms. We should meet them where they are and attend to what they are struggling with. It is our duty, however, to educate them as to what symptoms truly mean and begin to transition their thinking on this subject. Use examples like how heart attacks are often the first symptoms of heart disease or that cancer grows often without any pain or warning signs. This can really help patients get the picture about their spine and health.
3. What subluxation is
Many chiropractors shy away from this one, as did I for many years, either from a lack of understanding or from negative pressures in our own profession. This is, however, what we are examining and adjusting every day in our practice whether you know it or not. If we don’t communicate this with patients they will often make their own assumptions and may never understand why chiropractic works so well. Here is a test for all of you to do to see if you are communicating this well with your patients. On their next visit, ask them “What am I checking you for today?” See what their response is and have fun with the education process from there.
4. How subluxation happens
If you can get across how subluxation happens you will build a foundation for your patient to choose care. They need to understand that subluxation has three causes, chemical, emotional and physical. Physically, patients usually think that a big event “throws” their back out and we “put it back in.” This is not true in most cases. Get them to understand that subluxation is usually a result of minor physical events that accumulate over their lifetime. If they can better understand this point they will likely comply with the postural recommendations you make along with their care. Lastly, if they are keen about learning, you may want to take things a step further and explain how chemically and emotionally their lifestyle can be detrimental to their spine and health.
For starters you need to familiarize yourself with these four areas and have a plan on how you will deliver the communication. I find having basic scripts, examples, pictures and props practiced and ready to go produce the best results. Don’t forget to involve your staff in this process, as they can be the most influential teachers in your practice. A good place to start implementing the learning process is in your initial health-care class. Another great time is at progress exams where the patient has noticed big changes in their health and may be more open and trusting to the information you are providing. The main thing I would like to see is that you have a plan, one that is authentic and organized.
If you can master delivery of these four key learning objectives you will empower patients with the knowledge to live up to their potential.
Let’s vow to make patient education as necessary as the delivery of the adjustment. After all, most of their change has to come from the inside out.
Dr. Angelo Santin, DC, operates a busy family practice in Thunder Bay, Ont., and is president of the Thunder Bay Chiropractic Society. Dr. Santin is also a Carter Universal proficiency-rated chiropractic coach. He can be reached at email@example.com or 807-344-4606.