Daily treatment is customary in this stage. Usually the patient is physically incapable of working in an acute stage. Occasionally, a more advanced degenerative condition or a multi-level herniated disc condition may take several weeks of daily treatment before realizing a major decline in symptoms. Most patients experience a significant improvement in symptoms within the first three to six treatments although some patients report improvement after only one or two treatments.
In stage 2, the patient feels better at rest , however, any strenuous or prolonged activity aggravates the pain. It is normal at this stage to feel better one day, worse the next, taking three steps forward one day and two steps back the next. Patients that have sedentary jobs or the availability of “light work” may return to work in the late stages of relief care. Relief usually takes a few weeks, although response varies according to age, chronicity, severity, and general level of fitness.
Stage 3 is focused upon creating stability. As circulation is restored to the damaged disc, and the compression of the pinched nerve is relieved, the healing begins. There are still “good days and bad days” although the “goods” keep getting better and the “bads” aren’t so bad or prolonged. After a few weeks of treatment at a rate of two to three treatments a week most patients are more stable than unstable. All patients, except those with the extremely physically demanding jobs, are and have been back to work. Light stretching exercises are essential to strengthen the spinal musculature to help stabilize the spinal joints.
During stage 4, the patient is to put in more effort at home through strengthening exercises to help ensure that a relapse does not occur. The goal is to feel good better with any strenuous or prolonged activity, not just while resting. Time is a key element of rehabilitative care and although the patient may be monitored from 4 to as many as 8 weeks in this phase the rate of treatment is usually only once weekly or every other week.