What to do with Patients Who Just Want a Few Visits to Get Out of Pain

By Dr. Russ Rosen | Chiropractic issues

Oct 17

I had a great conversation yesterday with a doctor in New Zealand and his three associates. One of the associates asked me this question that Angie and I hear all the time. She said, “I had a patient come in earlier this morning who said that they just want to get cracked a couple of times to get their neck feeling better.”

She asked me how I recommended handling these types of patients.

Has that ever happened to you?

In essence have you ever had patients tell you they just want to get out of pain as soon as possible and spend the least amount of money?

Of course the answer is yes.

I want you to realize that that is exactly what you want too! In all things we want to spend the least amount of money and get the biggest bang for our buck.

The question is how do we help people recognize the difference between getting “cracked” a few times and feeling better and truly resolving the underlying subluxations and keeping their nervous system functioning at its optimum for a lifetime?

This is the huge gap that we need to close.

Unfortunately we have shot ourselves in the foot and most people out there believe they chiropractors crack necks and backs to get rid of neck pain, back pain and headaches.

So it is our job as Optimal Health Chiropractors to find out what they REALLY want, in relationship to what we can REALLY do for them, and then simply show them how to have it.

Let me dive into that just a bit.

I have heard other management companies tell us to just find out what our patients want and give it to them. Just give them the one or two cracks, and they will become “crack addicts” and they will come back when they feel they need it.

Personally I could not disagree with that more.

I believe we need to find out what they really want in RELATIONSHIP to what we can REALLY do for them. I do not believe it is okay to just say to such a person, “Great lay down a crack your neck.”

Let me ask you this, if you went to a dentist and they found a cavity and you did not have pain in that tooth yet, would it be the doctor’s responsibility to let you know the truth about what’s going on with your tooth and the truth about what will happen over time with your tooth if you don’t get it taken care of?

Would the dentist use “patient scare tactics” with you? No! They would simply inform you about the truth and consequences of your condition and the choices that you have. They would not have a charge on what you chose to do, they would simply inform you but they would NOT just let it go and not tell you about what was going on with your tooth.

From my perspective we absolutely owe it to these people to help them understand the difference between what just “cracking your neck once or twice” will do for them versus helping resolved the underlying subluxations allowing their nervous system to function at its optimum for a lifetime. That is our job!

So how do we do it?

Okay I truly will get to that in just a moment but I need to ask you another question.

What is your philosophy around what you will do with these people once they understand the difference between feeling better and functioning at their optimum?

Assuming you got someone to understand that they could resolve their problems, get their nervous system functioning at its optimum, and have a better life. Or they could just choose to feel better now knowing that they haven’t resolved the underlying problems. And they fully understood this and said to you,

“Thank you. I fully understand the difference between the two. And I want you to just crack my neck a few times and get me feeling better.”

What would you do?

What is your philosophy?

Would you say to them that this is not what you do and refer them to someone else? Would you say fantastic I’m so happy that you understand the difference between the two and I’m happy to help you get feeling better now? This is a very important question for you to clarify how you want to practice. Personally I have done it both ways. And Angie and I coach chiropractors on doing it either way. The only important thing is that it is congruent with your philosophy.

Okay so how do we get somebody to this point? How do we get a patient who walks in and says “I just want my neck cracked a couple of times” to understand the difference between feeling better and functioning at their optimum?

Step one is to make it about them and not about you!

Don’t make them wrong. Don’t tell them that this is not what you do here. Do not tell them about DD Palmer and his dog fluffy. Simply meet them exactly where they are at and bring them to where you are.

I would follow our normal consultation examination process exactly as we lay it out in our communications modules link to website and just follow their lead. So if they just said that they wanted you to crack their neck so that their neck could feel better I would immediately start talking about their neck what’s going on with their neck and how it is affecting them in their life.

At this point they are absolutely happy to speak with you because you are not telling them what you will or will not do you are asking them about their problem. You’re asking them about their story which of course is the most interesting thing in the world to them.

Now that I know what is going on with them and what their greatest concerns are I’m going to get my hands on them. I would say something like, “Great let me get my hands on you and see what’s going on and see if this is something I can help you with. Sound fair?”

Again are they happy for you to touch their neck at this time? Of course they are! How could you possibly adjust them without getting your hands on them?

I would then start my touch tell ask and teach.

And as I was feeling for subluxations I would connect the dots between the subluxations that I found, their pain, their history, and of course their motor, sensory, and autonomic system exactly like I show you how to do in this video. 

If as I am palpating I find that there is more going on than meets the eye I will tell them so.

“Joe I have to tell you I believe that there is more than meets the eye. Not only do you have a subluxation right here that is most likely causing this neck pain, but odds are it is related to your dizziness and sinus problems. Not only do you have one here but it appears that you have one here to that very well could be connected to that elbow pain and sugar handling problems you’re having. Odds are if we were to do these tests with you (scans, x-rays etc.) we would most likely see these types of things going on. If that is what’s going on there really is a more serious underlying issue going on and it would be really good to know if that’s what’s going on with you are not. If it is odds are we want to get that taken care of and really get this functioning at its optimum so it doesn’t cause you problems in the future. If not one or two cracks will most likely get this thing not just feeling better but truly resolved the underlying issue. Do you mind if we go ahead and do these tests?”

If you have been through our communications program you understand that this is a normal process that we take everybody through.

The only difference is in this case we meet them with the concept that were happy to just “crack” their neck and get them feeling better. But during our consultation and examination if it is true that we find that there is more going on than we report that to them as any ethical doctor would do. Once we have done that we then give them the option of what they want to do from here.

At this point we would follow through with the rest of our examination and of course as per your protocol you would adjust them on the first visit or you would bring them back to the report of findings etc.

For the purposes of this blog I just wanted to help you get a better understanding of how to address these people and help them to recognize the truth about what was going on versus what they thought was going on when they came in. Remember it is all about closing that gap between what they think when they come in and what you know to be true.

Once you close that gap it becomes a simple process. Find out what they REALLY want in relationship to what you can REALLY do for them and then simply show them how to have it.

Hope that helps. Feel free to leave comments and questions.

About the Author

A dynamic and passionate chiropractor, author, international coach, educator and speaker, Russ ran one of the most successful wellness practices in Maui Hawaii for 14 years. Dr. Rosen is best known for his “Patient Care” vs. “Patient Scare” Wellness Communication systems. He served as Lead Author and Director of Dr. Patrick Gentempo’s Creating Wellness Management System. Dr. Rosen is the proud recipient of CLA/CWA’s 2007 “Lifetime Achievement” award. Since 2001 Russ has helped hundreds of doctors thrive in a True Optimal Health model and is CEO of The Optimal Health Chiropractic System.

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