By Leslie Reece, DC, MS, CCSP, Assistant Professor and Health Center Faculty
October is National Chiropractic Health Month, and this year’s theme of “Keep Moving!” perfectly describes the way in which chiropractors best help their patients. A chief priority in delivering high-quality chiropractic care is aiding the patient in returning to their daily activities without pain. One of the first ways in which chiropractors assess their patients is to investigate which movements aggravate the chief complaint. Subjectively, a patient may describe a specific mechanism of injury that instigated their pain. Or perhaps the complaint developed gradually over time as a result of repetitive movements. In either scenario, an understanding of the onset and progression of the complaint is critical to the development of the patient’s diagnosis and treatment.
The provider and patient will then establish their goals for care. These goals may include the desire to return to activities of daily living pain-free, to be able to perform job-specific tasks efficiently and painlessly or to return to sport without pain or limitation. Understanding the patient’s goals for treatment is critical in determining an appropriate care plan.
After achieving an understanding of why a patient is presenting to their office, the chiropractor is especially qualified to evaluate movement. Movement assessment evaluates motion locally at individual joints and globally through the assessment of full-body movement patterns. Chiropractors gauge movement by measuring joint range of motion, performing task- and sport-specific functional movement assessments, observing gait mechanics and palpating joints for motion.
Finally, chiropractic care keeps patients moving through hands-on treatment and careful movement instruction. Range of motion is improved through the delivery of manual muscle therapy and joint manipulation where appropriate. Alternatively, joint stabilization may be achieved by prescribing specific strengthening exercises. By improving joint motion and instructing appropriate functional movement, chiropractic care helps patients return to their daily activities and keep moving.