Stages of Care
Most patients who visit a chiropractor are experiencing an ache or pain. The discomfort may have come on suddenly or as the result of an accident; it may have started as a minor discomfort that has gotten worse over time. Whether addressing new pain or chronic pain, chiropractic care follows a very clear path of stages. Each stage includes important and specific elements. Our doctors follows these stages of care:
Dr. Merrion will talk with you about any pain or discomfort you are experiencing. Next, we will take X-rays and complete a thorough examination. The x-ray is absolutely critical to accurately diagnose your condition and provide the most efficient and accurate treatment.
We will carefully apply any necessary therapies to provide you with immediate pain relief. The doctor needs time to process and review your x-rays, so he will schedule you for a follow-up appointment either later that same day or the following day, during which he will go over your x-rays with you.
The doctor will read your x-rays, report his findings, and share his diagnosis. He will offer a strategy for healing, providing a complete and clear explanation and carefully answering any questions you may have.
As we begin to work together we focus on rapidly eliminating or reducing your immediate pain or discomfort and on stabilizing the condition. During this phase visits are relatively frequent as we correct your initial problem. While making these corrections naturally and effectively can take some time, this healing progress is actually quite rapid.
We know you want prompt relief from pain or discomfort! This phase of care is designed to provide that relief, and to do so as quickly as possible.
We fine-tune your care to best suit you, your chiropractic care needs, your schedule, and your level of motivation. This is why the timeframe for this phase must differ for each individual. In general, this phase will include 2-3 treatments a week for 3-6 weeks.
On your second appointment, the doctor will review your X-rays with you and will clearly point out the areas of your body that may be causing you pain or discomfort, such as spinal misalignment, degenerating joints or disks, bone spurs, etc. You will clearly understand exactly what he is seeing on the X-rays, his diagnosis, and the reasons for his prescribed care.
During this phase we focus on the following:
- reducing swelling,
- alleviating pressure,
- loosening stiff joints, and
- reducing your overall symptoms.
We’ll also work with you to address additional aspects of your well-being. Together we will determine nutritional care and exercises that you can do at home to help fortify each of these important building-blocks:
- physical stability,
- mobility and range of motion,
- rehabilitation, and
Our clinic employs the latest chiropractic technologies. We will determine the therapies that are best for you from among the following. These techniques help reduce inflammation and tenderness and complement your chiropractic adjustments. (Each is described more in-depth elsewhere in this website.)
- electronic muscle stimulation: electronic waveforms relieve chronic muscle pain
- cold or hot application: reduce inflammation and tenderness
- spinal decompression: reduce pressure on spinal discs
- ultrasound: relieve pain and injury to soft tissues
- low-level laser and/or light therapy: stimulates the body’s natural repair process
These therapies are typically applied pre-adjustment to prepare your body for the chiropractic treatment that follows.
After completing the groundwork described above, the doctor will apply manual adjustments that are just right for you. Your comfort during treatment is paramount, and every adjustment is made gently yet effectively. We take into account your specific level of pain and tenderness and will continually double-check to make sure you are comfortable during the adjustments.
Dr. Merrion has adjusted patients from 9 days to 99 years old, from body builders to pregnant women – he’ll be sure to use the adjustment technique that works best for you.
During this phase we work to maintain the corrections that we have made and to proactively discourage the symptoms from returning. By making additional corrections to your underlying injuries and weaknesses we help you further strengthen your body and promote further healing of damaged tissues and nervous system. Exercise, nutrition, and modification of daily habits are incorporated into your learning and healing process, as appropriate.
Sometimes during this phase patients abandon their efforts, most often because their symptoms have lessened. However, discontinuing care before the spine, muscles, and soft tissues are fully healed can result in relapse and can significantly delay full recovery. It is our goal to help you maintain the efforts you have put in so you can live your life to the fullest.
When you assign your chiropractor a ‘maintenance’ role—just as you do your dentist or your car mechanic—you keep yourself tuned-up and running smoothly. With regular chiropractic maintenance your body can be stronger and more resilient, and you’ll be making sure your healthy back is helping you feel younger well into the future! By preventing disease and bodily erosion you can avoid future pain, you can avoid spending time in repeat recovery, and you can avoid additional healthcare expenses.
In this phase we strive together to maintain and proactively care for your body. Just as wise car owners ascribe to regular and ongoing maintenance to ensure their cars will run better and longer, the wellness phase of chiropractic care helps ensure you are able to do the following:
- maintain a healthy body,
- prevent further degeneration, and
- stop small problems from becoming big problems.
Once your immediate pain relief has been taken care of we want to focus on helping you remain pain free and enhance your body so you can be sure to reach your full potential. Eliminating your initial pain is just the beginning, ensuring ongoing spinal care and education, muscle care, posture correction, and nutritional education, are all critical to helping you live a full, pain-free life.
Dr. Merrion will work with you to create a customized wellness plan that is fine-tuned just for you, one that is based on your specific situation.
Techniques & Equipment
Muscle Stimulation Therapy
Hot & Cold Therapy
Light & Laser Therapy
Disc Decompression & Flexion-Distraction Therapy
Leg Length X-Ray
Intersegmental Traction (IST)
Muscle Stimulation Therapy
Gentle, non-invasive electronic muscle stimulation provides symptomatic relief of chronic, intractable pain. This type of stimulation also helps manage pain associated with post-traumatic or post-operative conditions.
Electronic waveforms gently stimulate the soft tissue to do the following:
- relax muscle spasms,
- increase local blood circulation,
- re-educate muscles that have atrophied from disuse or injury, and
- maintain or improve joint range of motion.
The electronic muscle stimulation that Dr. Stein provides is a relatively painless, topically-applied therapy that provides profound effects on soft-tissue related conditions. Dr. Stein customizes this therapy to your needs and to a level that is comfortable for you.BACK TO TOP ^
Hot & Cold Therapy
New Health offers a variety of professional, long-lasting hot and cold packs that are used to reduce pain and swelling. These packs help relieve muscle pain and swelling. They are far more effective than other hot or cold solutions, and are convenient to use at any time.
These packs have their own fabric covering, so they can be placed directly on the skin from either the freezer or microwave. They also only retain cold or heat for the recommended period of time, so you reduce the risk of over-cooling or over-heating your tissues by using ice bags or heat from other sources.
The doctor will explain when to use cold therapy and when to use heat; each therapy is used for different types of aches and pains, and during different times in the healing process.
Cold or hot therapies manipulate the body into healing more rapidly. Both are very popular because they are easy to self-administer at home.
Many people prefer warm over cold therapy. If used incorrectly or applied during the wrong part of your treatment, you may stall, halt, or even reverse the healing process.
These therapies vary greatly in purpose, result, and application. Dr. Stein will coach you on their use.
Finally, any patient who has questions about using hot or cold therapy at home should feel free to contact our office.
Cold therapy (sometimes referred to as cryotherapy) is the application of cold compresses to reduce the temperature of soft tissues directly below the surface of the skin. We’ve all seen athletes applying ice or cold compresses immediately following an injury. Because this topical cooling slows blood flow to the area, pain and swelling are immediately reduced.
When applied correctly, cold therapy does not harm your tissues, but instead has many positive effects:
- Slows blood flow to the area, because the cold causes blood vessels below the surface to contract, actually pushing blood away from the area.
- Toxins caused by the injury are carried away in the blood.
- Relieves pain.
- Reduces inflammation.
- Reduces muscle spasms.
- Relaxes muscles.
When you remove the cold, new blood rushes into the area, bringing with it fresh oxygen and nutrients that speed healing.
It’s called cold therapy because cold is applied repeatedly, but only briefly each time. Instead of a single lengthy application, you apply cold to the area for 20 minutes, then remove it for 20 minutes, then apply it again and so on. Dr. Stein will work with you to determine a schedule that’s just right for you, one that will match your individual needs and achieve the desired effect. He will coach you so you can easily apply the therapy yourself.
Need gel packs? Our facility sells professional gel packs that include a permanent cover; this important safety feature protects your skin. Besides cooling quickly in your freezer, these gel packs retain the appropriate level of cold for the appropriate length of time. Conversely, real ice can cause over-cooling and actual skin injury. As a precaution, when using actual ice, besides using a plastic bag be sure to buffer the cold with a fabric cover such as a handkerchief or worn-out t-shirt.
Just as it sounds, heat therapy is the application of heat—specifically moist heat—to raise the temperature of soft tissues directly below the surface of the skin. When you apply moist heat to the surface of the skin, you can expect many positive effects: 1. Enhances blood flow to the area, because the heat causes blood vessels below the surface to expand. 2. Boosts oxygen and nutrient levels and removes cell waste. 3. Relieves pain temporarily. 4. Reduces joint stiffness. 5. Relaxes muscle tension and spasms. 6. Relaxes tissues. 7. Increases range of motion. 8. Increases flexibility. 9. Promotes increased circulation to speed healing. 10. Prepares tissues for rehabilitation.
In addition, using heat therapy to increase blood circulation and relax muscles is often helpful immediately before or after exercising, chiropractic treatments, and other treatments.
In general, before reaching for the heating pad try reaching for the cold pack. Never use heat therapy during the first 48-72 hours after an injury. It is imperative to reduce any inflammation and swelling in the area before applying heat, as heat will aggravate any already occurring inflammation. Heat therapy is appropriate only after the inflammation has subsided.
Hot & Cold Therapy Packs
New Health offers a variety of professional and durable hot and cold packs. These reusable packs are used to reduce and relieve muscle pain and swelling. They are far more effective than other hot or cold solutions, and are convenient to use at any time. These packs have their own fabric covering, so they can be placed directly on the skin from either the freezer or microwave. They are carefully designed to retain cold or heat for the recommended period of time and no longer. This design reduces the risk of over-cooling or over-heating your tissues, two unfortunate results that are all too common with ice bags or heat from other sources.BACK TO TOP ^
Ultrasound therapy is a painless, topically-applied therapy used to relieve pain and injuries to soft tissue.
Ultrasound is a form of energy that consists of high frequency vibrations. Using an applicator, these vibrations are delivered to the body by means of an ultrasound beam. These vibrations pass through the tissues of the body and are gradually absorbed and transformed into heat.
This temperature increase triggers biological changes to occur in soft tissues resulting in the following:
- relief of pain,
- relaxation of muscle spasms, and
- reduction of join contractures.
The ultrasound frequency and level of intensity are both adjusted to produce the desired therapeutic effect based on your specific needs.
Using ultrasound therapy in conjunction with Muscle Stimulation and manual adjustments can greatly reduce recovery time.BACK TO TOP ^
Light & Laser Therapy
Also known as Phototherapy, this therapy uses a specific type of light to penetrate the skin’s surface and underlying tissues to stimulate the body’s natural repair processes. The result is faster healing and reduced pain, swelling and inflammation.
In this procedure we apply light produced by low level laser and superluminous diodes to trigger cellular activity. The results: faster wound healing, pain relief, and accelerated recovery.
Phototherapy has been used successfully to treat athletic injuries, acute and chronic conditions, repetitive strain disorders, tissue healing and much more. By providing the extra energy required for healing, the tissue is able to heal itself naturally. This innovative therapeutic alternative may also eliminate the need for painful, debilitating surgeries and drug therapies so often accompanied by harmful side effects.
Research demonstrates that phototherapy can be used to effectively treat many conditions. Using the healing nature of light to simulate the body’s natural repair processes has proven particularly effective for treating various conditions, including the following:
- Tendonitis, tennis and golfer’s elbow,
- Repetitive Stress Injuries (i.e. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome),
- Neck and lower back pain,
- Soft tissue injuries, strains and sprains, and
- Migraine headaches.
Some of the unique healing effects of phototherapy include the following:
- Increased cell metabolism,
- Improved localized blood circulation,
- Accelerated development of collagen and muscle tissue,
- Relief from acute and chronic pain,
- Reduced localized inflammation and edema,
- Stimulation for wound healing and tissue repair,
- Stimulation of the immune system, and
- Stimulation of nerve function.
Low Level Laser Therapy
There are two types of medical lasers: high power and low power. High power lasers are used to cut through tissue, as in surgical procedures. Low-level lasers, on the other hand, are used to stimulate tissue repair and relieve acute and chronic pain.
Through a process of bio-stimulation, infrared light is applied over injuries or wounds. This cold ) laser light energy directs bio-stimulative light energy to the body’s cells without injuring or damaging them in any way. The therapy is precise and accurate, offering safe and effective treatment for a wide variety of conditions.
The Application of Laser and Phototherapy Treatments
In both procedures devices are positioned directly on the skin. Gentle pressure is applied. Generally there is no discomfort or sensation associated with treatment. Various areas may be treated including the following:
- Directly over the lesion or site of injury,
- Muscle insertion,
- Relevant trigger points or tender points,
- Nerve roots or superficial nerve trucks, and
- Acupuncture points.
Disc Decompression & Flexion-Distraction Therapy
Disc compression therapy and flexion-distraction use special therapeutic tables and traction techniques to help reposition spinal discs, allowing for relief of pressure. These noninvasive and nonsurgical therapies help alleviate the back, leg, and arm pain associated with the following:
- Herniated discs (damaged spinal discs).
- Degenerative discs that have broken down or eroded.
- Posterior facet syndrome, which is inflammation of the lining of the joints of the vertebrae.
In addition to the diagnoses described above, disc decompression therapy also helps relieve pain related to sciatica, surgery and spinal stenosis. Besides reducing pain, the therapy greatly reduces pressure and improves mobility.
New Health is one of an exclusive group of providers in the entire state of Wisconsin offering the highly specialized Cox® Table; the premium decompression/flexion-distraction table on the market today. Cox® Technic flexion-distraction makes decompression an integral part of the chiropractic adjustment delivered to the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, lumbosacral, or sacro-iliac spine joints. The comfort, flexibility, and smooth action of this table make it the platinum standard in chiropractic equipment.
We also provide vertebral decompression with the use of the DOC Decompression table. The unique design of the DOC table utilizes a state-of-the-art digital command center for specific vertebral targeting, separate lumbar and cervical decompression programming and continuous readout and graphing of treatment protocols.BACK TO TOP ^
Leg Length X-Ray
Diagnoses to the exact millimeter any difference in length between your right and left legs. You can then be fitted with a lift for the shorter leg in order to make your pelvis level.
This reduces pressure to your lower back which decreases pain and scoliosis and returns your spine to its correct biomechanical shape.
People with chronic low back pain have excellent short- and long-term results.
Not everyone’s legs are the same length. And differences in leg length can present serious challenges, especially if not properly diagnosed and left untreated for years. Resulting symptoms like chronic low back pain or hip pain may be precursors to scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease and dysfunction, arthritis, and more.
Of course, when differering leg lengths are obvious they are more easily diagnosed and treated. More often, however, are variations in leg length of only a few millimeters. While seemingly invisible, these deviations are still significant enough to cause pain, stiffness, or other discomfort in the short-run, as well as additional major health challenges in the long-run.
Thankfully, our doctors are proactive about issues associated with leg length, and he can easily diagnose and treat the problem.
In order to determine an accurate diagnosis, each comprehensive exam includes x-rays. If the Leg Length X-Ray leads to a diagnosis of leg length discrepancy, additional x-rays may be employed to pinpoint whether actual leg length differentiation is the cause of your discrepancy.
Besides actual leg length differentiation, sometimes a leg length discrepancy is caused by hip displacement, or by joint displacement occurring somewhere else in your body. Chiropractic adjustments can relieve most of this discomfort! By applying chiropractic adjustments to the various parts of the body to more properly align the body—especially the hip/pelvic area—we help ensure that both of your legs are starting out from the same point.
Some patients with leg length differentiation are fitted with an orthotic to provide additional leg length correction. We work with Foot Levelers Orthotics, and can measure you for and order the appropriate orthotic to address your specific discrepancy.BACK TO TOP ^
Intersegmental Traction (IST)
Intersegmental traction (IST), more fondly known as the “roller table,” is used to induce motion into the spine, and passively stretches each and every joint that is connected to your spinal cord. All 110 of them, to be exact! IST helps to loosen tight joints and increases and restores elasticity, flexibility, and mobility.
Receiving IST therapy is simple. The patient lies face-up on a comfortable table that is configured with roller cams beneath the surface. The rollers move slowly up and down the spine, gently stretching the spinal joints and providing a relaxing “massage” at the same time. Most patients find this therapy very relaxing and helpful.
The IST massage is intended to induce a healthy and rehabilitative relaxation. He often uses IST before chiropractic adjustments to prepare the spine, or after adjustments to calm muscle tension.BACK TO TOP ^
The doctor’s treatment is only the start. After he treats the injured area you are considered “stabilized” and no longer in the “acute” stage.
The next step is important to your full recovery: strengthening your spine. At this point we will introduce you to our personal trainers and other practitioners; they are available to teach you stretching postures and simple exercises for the appropriate area.
Your follow through will be vital, and we will expect you to incorporate these stretches and exercises in your daily life. They will be easy to do on your own at home, and we will work with you to help ensure your success. This follow-up is a vital part of your overall treatment and will help ensure that the problem does not return.BACK TO TOP ^