To say this has been a strange week would be a massive understatement.
Anytime that something comes up in the practice, I’ll turn to my Dad for guidance. But he, like all of us, have never really been through anything like this before. This is relatively uncharted territory and there isn’t really a playbook for how to operate during this time.
In my conversations with my chiropractic colleagues across the country, there have been a lot of them who have decided to shut down their practices temporarily in order to assist the quarantine efforts. These decisions always come with a “heavy heart” and “lots of soul searching”. I am not denying their difficulty in making these decisions, and I don’t fault them for shutting down. It’s just not what we’re doing.
We’ve gotten questions from patients this week as to why we are still open, so I wanted to take a moment to explain in detail our rationale for continuing to operate and see patients.
Reason 1: Reduce Strain on the Medical Community:
o During this time, people are still going to have spine issues. That is a fact. It may not be the priority at the moment, but if someone is suffering, even at home, they are going to need help. If there are no chiropractors during this time, these patients are going to go to their primary care doctors, to the walk-in clinics, and potentially even to the Emergency Department. Not only does this potentially increase their chances of being exposed to patients with COVID infections, but it also places an additional burden on the already strained medical institutions. As a chiropractor, I cannot, nor do I have any desire, to treat a patient who is suffering from a viral infection. I can however treat spine pain patients, and I intend to do so for as long as I can.
Reason 2: Reduce Reliance on Pain Medication
o To repeat my first point, people are still going to have spine issues. To limit the strain on medical facilities, most of these patients will potentially be turned away from clinics, or pushed towards a telemedicine option. I don’t doubt the efficacy of telemedicine for a number of conditions; however, for spine pain, I believe that it is going to increase the usage of potentially dangerous pain medications, both opiate and otherwise. Without a conservative option like chiropractic or physical therapy to turn to, patients will be increasing their medication usage like never before because it’s all they have. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see reductions in the strictness and standards regarding opiate prescriptions due to the ‘emergency nature’ of the current climate. Those of you who know me know that opiates have taken the life of my friend and as a chiropractor it’s my duty to provide an alternative to patients for as long as I possibly can.
Reason 3: Keep my patients as healthy as possible.
o Who’s feeling more stressed lately? If you’re a human being living on planet earth, chances are that your stress levels have increased recently. Maybe all of your children are at home and you’re now responsible for teaching them. Maybe your job has laid you off and you don’t know where your next paycheck is coming from. Or maybe your job has you working overtime in the grocery store to help deal with increased demand. Whatever the case, that stress is going to take a toll on your body, your spine, and then your immune system. Chiropractic isn’t going to cure a COVID infection, but it will help your body stay stronger, healthier, and functioning better. The healthier you are the better your chances of staying safe, and keeping those around you safe.
Look, I’m a chiropractor. I know that what I do is not the answer to fixing this situation we’re in right now. But if I think that we can help, even in a small way, we are going to continue to do that for as long as possible.
We are here, we are open, and we are ready to help in whatever way we are able.
Dr. Travis McKay