The importance of treatment frequency and following your doctor's plan: Neuroplasticity

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April 8, 2016

Many of our new patients are seen 3-5x times per week for a duration of time in order to maximize results. Why is it important to follow a treatment plan so rigorous? In simple terms, the nervous system responds to repetition. Much like learning something new requires time and effort to sink in, so does the required changes occurring within our body and brain when we are healing. We must provide the focal and global neurological mechanisms that are connecting our body structures with our brain with the correct information, and this has to be done repeatedly. This is known as Neuroplasticity, or a change in our nervous system structure by making multiple connections that allow for fast, efficient, long-term signaling and pattern that is required to control muscles, joints and posture. This is why we provide a comprehensive treatment to the Joints, Muscle and Nerves as they are all connected and necessary in the control of all soft tissue structures relative to the musculoskeletal system.

The misnomer is that we are putting a bone, or joint back in place when we treat you. This is what's happening in the long run, but not in the short-term. In actuality, we are inducing proper motion relative to the joints and muscles that have become stiff and inflammed, irritating surrounding nerve, joint and muscle tissue as chemicals are released into the extracellular matrix that is within the patient's problem area. You see, it's all about movement, as that movement activates receptors in our joints and mucles that feed the brain spatial information about the location, angle and positioning of our joint structures so that we can coordinate movement, walk, sit and stand upright without dysfunction.

We find that the people who follow a treatment plan of 3-5 times per week often experience the best results. They achieve the quickest and the most long-term, or permanent changes as they create the most Neuroplasticity. Imagine learning a new language, you can study here and there and pick up certain things, but to truely gain momentum, you need to immerse yourself within the language and around others using it. After a while you find yourself able to speak fluently without working very hard at it. That is learning, it doesn't matter whether you are learning a task or your body is learning a new movement, position or posture. Given time and repetition, it always gives in. 

Fortunately, and unfortunately, your body is very efficient. What I mean by that is that you can become very good at doing something the wrong way, which is the position most people are in when they come to see us. We have to re-teach their brain and body how to function properly again, replacing pain pathways with proprioceptive pathways, or information conveying movement, spatial understanding, stretch, load and coordination. Imagine an old-timey scale, the pain side of the scale is currently loaded up, the other side is your proprioception, or healthy nerve, joint and msucle function and it's unweighted. We want to slowly tip the scale in the favor of the proprioception side, eliminating the painful side. Now, we can't do this too quickly, because that doesn't create long-term change. Pharmaceuticals, cortisone shots and other temporary fixes will give you quick, short-term results, but will not last. Slow progression is the only way to go as it is how our brain learns. If I give you a bunch of information and test you on it the next day, chances are you might pass, but most likely not remember any information, much like many of us cram for tests. If I give you information and give you a month to learn, but force you to study it four hours per day and create repetition, than you will more likely appropriate that information to long-term memory and never forget it.