Maintenance care -vs- symptom care
Low back pain is often chronic and recurrent. For those who have recurrent low back pain (LBP) they often have the choice of coming in for treatment when the pain hits or doing maintenance care – which means once you pain is cleared up, pop in for treatment once every 2, 4, or 6 weeks even if you feel go with the goal of keeping it that way.
The old “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” adige.
Which is the better way to go?
Here is a study titled:
The Nordic Maintenance Care program: Effectiveness of chiropractic maintenance care versus symptom-guided treatment for recurrent and persistent low back pain – A pragmatic randomized controlled trial
Let’s sum this one up…..
In this study they looked at 319 people with a history of recurrent low back pain that responds quickly with Chiropractic care (start feeling better at the 4th treatment).
Over the course of 1 year – one group had regular “maintenance” care and the other group had treatment when they were in pain. So what happened?
The maintenance group had 85 days where their back bothered them and the come as needed group had 98 day where their backs bothered them. Both groups responded well to treatment, but the maintenance group had less pain days.
On average the maintenance group had 2 more treatments through the year which is likely worth it considering they had almost 2 weeks less pain days.
For most manual therapists, be it massage, physiotherapist or chiropractor – the idea of a little preventive maintenance is commonplace. For myself – I like to get adjusted once a week to stay feeling good, but in world where Chiropractic care is not free, this may not be realistic for most people.
Think of your body as a piece of machinery. The more wear and tear on it – the more maintenance it requires to keep operating well.
It’s about being proactive and not reactive.
Ultimately maintenance care( or not) is best decided between the doctor and patient and what works best for the patient.