Patients typically seek chiropractic care for pain or injury, but health and wellbeing are strongly correlated and lifestyle changes can have an impact
Stress is a constant for many, but in the past year, patients have experienced more stress than ever and are seeking changes and advice to their primary and secondary (and even tertiary) health care providers.
As a chiropractor, you can counsel and help your patients about their stress levels by suggesting lifestyle changes.
Neil Boecking, DC, is President of Pro-Care Medical Centers in Texas, which provide patient care including chiropractic, primary and specialty care, nutritional counseling, and weight management. He gave us information and guidance on advising patients on lifestyle changes to reduce stress.
Why should DCs talk to patients about lifestyle changes and stress?
Pro-Care is about “joining together to heal”. This means that I can treat patients based on my diagnoses, but it also requires an investment by the patient to get better too.
Most of the patients who seek chiropractic care with us come in because of acute or chronic pain or injury. Often times, health and wellbeing have a strong correlation with what might be causing the pain or hindering your recovery process.
For example, an inactive lifestyle, obesity, type 2 diabetes, or a staple diet can have a profound impact on health. For example, treating back pain requires active rehab, mobility exercises, reducing inflammation, and more. Diet and the transition from a stagnant to an active lifestyle play key roles in recovery.
Should you begin lifestyle change discussions the same way with all patients?
Like all people, each patient is unique and requires an understanding of where they are from, what needs they have, and what medical history they have. A chronic back pain patient who is overweight, on cholesterol control medication, and has a family history of heart disease competes against a young athlete who was injured while doing CrossFit. My starting point will be very different.
Ideally, however, I would like diet to be a central part of the conversation with all patients, whether they are introverted or extroverted. Health is health and no personality types are selected.
How do you start with a patient and perhaps bring up difficult topics?
I always start where you are today. Which lifestyle do you lead, which lifestyle do you want to lead and what are your goals?
If stress is a major factor, what are the barriers to getting rid of it? What is the root cause? This year was especially challenging for people with stress and anxiety, and we had to look for creative ways to get people moving and to keep them moving.
For example, we’ve created a series of over 75 YouTube videos titled Pro-Care Protocols, which are some of our most common active rehab mobility exercises and movements that focus on specific areas of the body.
Exercise and mobility are an important part of diet!
Can you give an example of how you started these types of conversations with patients?
The conversation starts as soon as you shake the person’s hand, or in this year’s case, an elbow bulge!
You need to build rapport and trust. Every conversation is fluent. When we identify some of the stressors, we pull back the layers of onion to understand triggers, causes, etc. Again, no patient is the same, but this generally leads to conversations about reducing triggers and the correlation with lifestyle changes.
For example, stress can cause inflammation, which can then lead to pain. Looking naturally for ways to reduce inflammation, such as: B. Eliminate or reduce sugar consumption (easier said than done) and reduce alcohol consumption.
Certainly, more allopathic strategies like turmeric or green tea are great. And over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen are options. We recommend you if the pain or injury affects our ability to actively rehab.
What are the biggest mistakes DCs can make when advising patients on how to reduce stress?
The biggest mistake I see is that DCs can be too tightly focused at times. They often focus on treating the problem at hand … sciatica, neck pain, etc. Treating the patient as a whole rather than looking at the patient under a microscope will tend to give better health outcomes.
Therefore, I always recommend starting the health assessment from a physical, chemical and emotional point of view. Sometimes you can help your patients understand the stress that can be causing some of their ongoing problems and put them on a path to change their lifestyle and feel good.