The difference between disease treatment and health maintenance is often misunderstood. Confusion can occur because identical actions can be carried out to satisfy either of these objectives. For instance, one individual might follow a careful dietary plan to treat a disease or condition (e.g., high cholesterol or obesity), whereas someone else might follow the same eating plan in order to maintain or even improve their health. Similarly, an individual might exercise regularly to lose 10 kilograms, while another person does the same activity because they know it is in the best interest of their health. These people are engaging in the same behaviour, that is, healthy eating and exercise. Is it important whether they are engaging in these behaviours with the aim of treating a disease or for maintaining good health?
I believe that the distinction between a disease treatment and a health maintenance objective is an important one because there are risks associated with only having a disease treatment approach. Firstly, if people only act to treat disease and don’t work to maintain their health, then disease is more likely to develop. If we maintain our health, disease becomes less of an issue. The healthier we are, the less sick we get.
The second problem with just treating disease is that it only results in short-term behaviour change. For example, if someone is eating healthily and exercising to treat a disease, they only do it until the disease or condition has gone. In contrast, if someone is eating healthily and exercising for health maintenance, these behaviours are part of their life, for a lifetime. How often have you seen (or even experienced yourself) someone who has worked hard to lose weight, just to put it all back on again? This may be a case of using diet and exercise as a treatment for their weight problem, rather than as an approach to healthy living.
Very often people approach chiropractic with the objective of treating disease, rather than to help them maintain a healthy body. In the same way that if healthy eating and exercise are used temporarily, then the effects won’t be maintained, the same is true of chiropractic. If you use chiropractic just as a treatment of your symptoms, you are missing out on the real benefits that can occur from regular maintenance care, regardless of whether you have symptoms or not.
Ensuring your body has a nervous system functioning free of interference at the spinal level is something that everyone – sick or well – should do consistently as part of their health maintenance program.