Chasing Pain, chasing tails
Beyond Pain Relief: Understanding and Treating the Underlying Causes
Pain is a complex sensation that often brings patients to seek chiropractic care. It's a powerful motivator, demanding immediate attention. However, as a chiropractic practitioner, I've learned that pain is often just the tip of the iceberg. In this post, we'll explore why it's crucial to look beyond just alleviating pain and understand the underlying causes affecting a patient's overall health and movement.
The Limitations of Pain as a Measure
Pain, while a critical indicator of a problem, is subjective. Patients often struggle to accurately describe their pain, and the intensity can vary significantly from one person to another. For instance, what feels like a 9 out of 10 on the pain scale for one person might feel like a 7 out of 10 for another. This subjective nature of pain underscores the need for a comprehensive examination.
The Role of Chiropractic Examination
During an initial consultation, a significant part of the discussion focuses on the patient's pain. However, this is followed by a thorough examination where we observe not only what the patient reports but also what we can see ourselves. This includes assessing how a patient sits or stands, their posture, range of motion, and performing specific orthopedic and neurological tests. These tests are designed to isolate the problem area and understand its impact on the patient's overall functionality.
Understanding Pain and Body Function
As treatment progresses, it's common for patients to continue experiencing pain even when objective findings show improvement. For example, if a patient initially couldn't bend over due to pain and, a week later, can bend with little to no pain, it's an improvement. However, if they're still unable to bend over regardless of pain reduction, it indicates a deeper issue with body functionality. Such scenarios highlight the importance of treating the cause, not just the symptom, as unaddressed issues can lead to the recurrence of pain and potentially affect other bodily functions.
Educating Patients on Pain Measures
Patients need to understand that the three main measures of pain - intensity, frequency, and duration - may not improve simultaneously. Educating them about this can help set realistic expectations and emphasize the importance of addressing the root cause of their discomfort. Temporary pain relief might seem appealing, but without tackling the underlying issue, the condition is likely to recur, possibly in a more severe form.
Chiropractic care is about more than just pain relief; it's about restoring and maintaining overall body function and health. By focusing on the root causes of pain, we can offer more effective and lasting solutions to our patients, preventing future recurrences and improving their quality of life.