Q&A: Why Preventative Healthcare Matters, with BCA Member, Marc Sanders
Preventative healthcare is a key pillar in both chiropractic care, and the British Chiropractic Association’s (BCA) person-centred approach to treatment. It is vital for managing a patient’s health and identifying conditions in their early stages. To unpack this further and understand what preventative healthcare really means, we sat down with Chiropractor and BCA Member, Marc Sanders, to discuss the topic in more depth and how chiropractic is playing a fundamental role in putting this into practice.
Thanks for sitting down with us Marc. First of all, can you explain what is preventative healthcare?
Preventative healthcare involves identifying diseases in their early stages, and by adding healthcare measures to address these concerns into a patient’s treatment plan. To better understand its meaning, preventative healthcare can be categorised into three types of prevention, which include the following:
- Primary: This initial stage allows us to intervene before any health effects manifest and develop. The focus here is to identify those at risk of developing pain and take steps to reduce the chance of them developing it.
- Secondary: This stage is crucial for prevention and is where we conduct screenings for spinal conditions like scoliosis at an early stage. This is also the stage where we can make a positive impact in terms of working collaboratively with other healthcare professionals. Chiropractors can play a significant role in public health, by identifying potential future diseases in the early stages, positioning us to provide effective assistance.
- Tertiary: Tertiary prevention involves managing a disease once it’s diagnosed, with the aim of preventing its progression or slowing it down. This stage focuses on treating the identified issues and managing them with the patient. We continue to monitor progress throughout the course of their care, especially if the patient opts for maintenance care, which is more long-term.
Why is preventative healthcare important?
Preventative healthcare can have a significant positive impact for people with persistent and reoccurring musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions. Many individuals managing these conditions are limited in their long-term treatment and management options. Unfortunately, some interventions, such as certain medicated and surgical approaches, can often be invasive and/or harmful as a long-term approach to management of these conditions. In this context, chiropractic care emerges as a non-invasive, evidence-informed alternative for managing these conditions, offering patients a pathway beyond and reducing the need for medication and surgery. This is particularly relevant because many patients find themselves on long-term pain medications, such as opioids, which come with a high potential for harm and provide only small to modest benefits.
What are the different examples of preventive healthcare?
Chiropractic Care: Chiropractors use manual therapy to reduce pain, enhance joint mobility, and promote overall function. They also guide patients in making positive lifestyle changes, such as improving sleep, nutrition, managing stress, and exercising. Chiropractors provide tailored exercise programmes and align with the World Health Organisation’s call for sustained lifestyle changes.
Health Improvement: Chiropractors also help patients to become stronger and more resilient, addressing pain triggers, balance issues, and conditions like osteoporosis and sarcopenia. They offer specific exercise programmes, share health knowledge, and act as health coaches for long-term health improvement.
Personalised Approach: Chiropractic care is highly personalised, with individuals actively involved in their care plans. After an initial course of treatment, the individual then decides when and how often they’d like treatment – this is all about putting their needs first. Maintenance care is based on being person-centred, with continuous feedback and goal-setting to ensure evolving care alignment. This approach prevents passive treatment reliance and supports an individual’s changing needs and goals.
Finally, what are the benefits of preventative healthcare?
Whilst the research behind preventative care is still in the early stages, it’s growing rapidly and the benefits are numerous. Preventive healthcare empowers people to manage chronic musculoskeletal conditions, offering various benefits. It complements and reinforces exercises and promotes healthier lifestyles, aiding those with high-stress jobs for example. It reduces the number of days per year that people suffer from chronic back pain, positively changing the trajectory of their condition. It also looks ahead, preventing conditions like osteoporosis and reducing the risk of falls. This proactive approach preserves quality of life and minimises pain, enhancing overall wellbeing.
Preventative healthcare is an empowering way for people to take control of their health and mitigate any future discomforts. For us as chiropractors, it is an opportunity to catch conditions in their early stages and encourage our patients to incorporate a more sustainable and healthier lifestyle, which is at the root of everything we do.
Caveats and links to further resources:
- Maintenance care (MC) is currently being investigated and not included in clinical practice guidelines as a recommended evidence-informed treatment strategy for prevention.
- Most studies on clinical indications and efficacy of MC have been performed in patients with low back pain.
- Not everybody needs maintenance care, however there is a growing body of evidence for maintenance care
- Clinical indicators for recommending continued care to patients with neck pain in chiropractic practice: a cohort study: https://rcc-uk.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=74bc029fbb860d713b48c4577&id=f319253d15&e=a6e228f3a4
- Current preventative and health promotional care offered to patients by chiropractors in the United Kingdom: a survey – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10416359/
- First Provider Seen for an Acute Episode of Low Back Pain Influences Subsequent Health Care Utilisation – https://academic.oup.com/ptj/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ptj/pzad067/7209577?redirectedFrom=fulltext&login=false