Can you think of something that’s healthy in small doses, but harmful when exposed to too much?
For me, sunshine comes to mind. A few minutes of sun each day can be healthy for us because it helps our bodies produce Vitamin-D. In large doses, however, sunburn will damage the skin, and prolonged exposure leads to premature aging and the development of skin cancer.
There’s actually a term for this “low dose versus high dose” dilemma. It’s known as hormesis, and there’s a great book called Antifragile that discusses it in detail.
Hormesis can be described as a biological phenomenon whereby beneficial effects like improved health and longevity result from exposure to low doses of something that’s otherwise harmful when given in higher doses.
It’s an interesting topic that made me contemplate the “dosage” of spinal adjustments in chiropractic care. Is there such a thing as a low/high dose? I believe there is, but there doesn’t seem to be any consistency between chiropractors regarding how much or how little a person needs.
Different Types of Chiropractic Recommendations
Some chiropractic offices treat patients as-needed based on a specific set of symptoms at the time. One adjustment and out they go. Bing, bang, boom; see ya next time.
Some chiropractic offices treat patients over a 6-12 week time period, and then it’s over. If you’re in an accident or aren’t sure whether your problem can benefit from chiropractic methods, this conservative approach gives the body enough time to respond naturally before turning to medical interventions like drugs or surgery.
Others offices don’t “treat” patients at all. And their patients aren’t even referred to as patients — they’re “practice members.” What you’ll find here is an environment that encourages people to believe that the more adjustments you receive, the healthier you’ll be… They essentially offer one type of care plan, and it usually includes 1-2 years worth of treatment, dozens (if not hundreds) of visits, and is designed to convince people that chiropractic care is a lifestyle, not a treatment. You might find images like this posted throughout the doctor’s social media:
A newer model in the chiropractic business is the monthly membership practice. Like a tanning salon, customers are encouraged to come as often as they’d like for a monthly fee. It’s basically a toned down version of the “it’s a lifestyle” contract plans described above. It’s better suited for patients who choose to get adjusted frequently.
My Personal Opinion
It is my belief that chiropractic care is like sunshine. It’s healthiest in small doses.
I wouldn’t say that getting adjusted a lot is “harmful” but it has impacted the chiropractic profession’s reputation. There’s a reason people assume that “once you start going, you have to keep going forever.” This isn’t said with fondness.
And then there’s the issue of hyper-mobility. When I was in chiropractic school, I actually got “adjusted” every day. Never in my life prior to that time, and never since, has my spine popped, cracked, and squeaked like it did during that very specific 3.5-year time period. (To be fair, we weren’t supposed to adjust one another outside of class, but c’mon, how could you not?)
The fact that I couldn’t reach for a book without my spine popping on its own was rather embarrassing. While this isn’t the actual definition of hyper mobility syndrome, I use the term to describe what my spine felt like during that period…
Today, I can hold adjustments for months at time, and my spine quietly does its job without sounding like bubble wrap.
So in my opinion, one could argue that chiropractic care has its own hormetic effects, and is most beneficial in low doses. The fewer adjustments a person needs, the better off they are…
Disclaimer: This is my opinion alone based on observation. I advise you to maintain some skepticism. But watch how often you start seeing the pattern now that I’ve described it.
Thanks for the great post Dr. Adam.
I really enjoyed. Keep posting.
Also, there are many benefits when you have chiropractic care.