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The difference between healthcare and sickcare

Over half a century ago, the World Health Organisation defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”  But Western cultures have largely ignored this broader, encompassing view of health and instead focus on the ‘not being sick’ bit.

Indeed, in a large study in the UK, Cox and colleagues (1987) investigated lay people’s views of health and ill health (1). They found that 30 per cent of respondents defined health as ‘not ill’ or ‘disease-free’.

What is the main difference between healthcare (or wellness care) and ‘sickcare’?  Simply put, sickcare is the focus on using surgery or drugs to treat a symptom:  true healthcare seeks to remove or relieve anything that is causing interference on the body’s own ability to heal itself.

Most conventional healthcare in the UK focuses on treating problems once they have arisen or, in the worst cases, only masking the symptoms and never tackling the underlying cause. For example, the conventional sickcare approach to chronic headaches will be to prescribe painkillers but these drugs only block the pain signals in your brain – signals that are telling you that something needs addressing.  In fact, excessive and persistent use of painkillers can actually cause headaches (2). Over-the-counter painkillers have side effects which can include stomach pain, internal bleeding and ulcers (3).

A true healthcare approach to headaches would include looking for the cause of the headaches, be that stress, dietary or hydration factors or interference on the nerves supplying the head, and then to address the cause of the problem. As a consequence of this action the pain and frequency of the headaches would be naturally relieved rather than temporarily masked with drugs.

Chiropractic is part of this true healthcare approach. Whilst chiropractors work along side conventional care and will liaise with other members of your healthcare team, they do not use drugs or surgery as part of their treatment methods. Instead chiropractors aim to help the body use its natural resources, via the nervous system, to heal itself. The ultimate goal is more than simply relieving pain and restoring motion; it is to put you on the path to better life-long health and vitality, the optimal expression of your health.

Health, or wellness, is so much more than just not being sick. Achieving your peak wellness levels is about going past ‘neutral’ or feeling okay to feeling full of energy, operating at your peak and enjoying harmony between your mind and body.

Healthcare vs Sickcare

And of course, your spine is the communications highway between your body (your whole body including your organs, immune system, limbs, muscles, skin, etc) and the seat of your mind: your brain.

This connection has been researched since Hippocrates wrote in the fourth century BC, “look well to the spine for the cause of disease.” Our bodies have evolved to be self-regulating and self-healing.  Messages instructing various cells to get on with the job of monitoring and healing, or alerting the brain to problems, flow through our nervous system which in turn flows up through the spine and directly into the brain. By working with the nervous system and spine and allowing these messages to flow unimpeded, chiropractic can help your body be its own healer.

With a nervous system free from interference from misaligned joints within the spine and limbs, with the provision of optimal nutrition for fuel and the right environment, imagine your potential health and wellbeing. Imagine the impact this would have on your quality of life…for the rest of your life.

Achieving health and remaining healthy is an active process. As part of your care at The Windsor Clinic, you will learn how to make adjustments to your lifestyle choices (diet, levels of effective exercise, daily habits, sleeping patterns and nutritional profile) so that you can be an active partner in the process of creating a vibrant, healthier you, from day one!


  1. Cox, B. D. et al. (1987) The Health and Lifestyle Survey. London: The Health Promotion Trust.
  2. (2005).Headache. Prodigy Guidance.
  3. (2005) American Gastroenterological Association. Study Shows Long-Term Use of NSAIDs Causes Severe Intestinal Damage. Click Here


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