The short answer to this question is, “It depends.”
For example, the number of recommended adjustments may depend on why you sought chiropractic care in the first place. Were you concerned with pain, or recovery from an injury, or did you seek care to promote your overall health and wellness? The national average when dealing with pain and injury is 20 to 22 adjustments per patient, per injury. When the initial pain or injury has been relieved and treatment moves more into the area of general wellness care and health maintenance, the number of adjustments is almost always a partnership between the chiropractor and the patients. They work together to determine overall goals and set up an appropriate treatment schedule.
Many patients find relief in their first visit and see considerable progress within a week or two of regular visits, and regular adjustments can become less necessary as your body stabilizes. Of course, this varies from patient to patient, depending on the nature of the injury and the stage of treatment they are in. In the first or acute stage, when the patient has first consulted a chiropractor, the primary goal may be to relieve pain and increase mobility, so several adjustments a week may be required to accomplish this.
However, the scar tissue and postural imbalance that can build up around spinal injuries can take some time to heal completely, so there may be a reconstructive or healing phase of treatment. This stage seeks to improve the strength and flexibility of soft tissue surrounding the area of the original injury. During this phase there are commonly fewer adjustments – from once a week to once a month. At first the patient may find in nearly every visit that their spine has slipped back out of adjustment and requires correction. When the spine starts holding its adjustments, however, treatment can be reduced to a check-up every few months.
The number of recommended adjustments may also vary depending on the nature of the services provided by the individual chiropractor. Some treatment approaches seek to correct problems in a few sessions, while others take a more long-term approach, constantly evaluating the patient’s progress and changing the treatment regimen accordingly to not just heal the immediate injury but develop a more healthy spine and lifestyle. Chiropractic care is to some extent an art form; there are many ways to adjust the spine, and many ways to determine whether the adjustment has been successful. This can depend on the chiropractor’s personal style, where they were educated, their experience, and many other factors.
To some extent the determination of how many adjustments you will need depends on you, your personal goals, and how much you want to benefit from chiropractic care. Some patients seek only resolution of pain or discomfort from an injury, and are not as interested in long-term therapies to improve their spinal and general health. Others choose to pursue treatment because they recognize the importance of maintaining a healthy spine, to prevent future injuries and increase their quality of life.