Saturday, March 7, 2009

Getting Beyond the Pain

No doctor ever cured anyone of anything. The most we can hope for is to put your body into the best possible position to heal itself.
Having said that, health care in general and chiropractic specifically are replete with stories of “miracle cures” but the most remarkable miracle cures are those that result from long, patient work. Most chiropractic patients arrive with complaints that have been present, in varying intensities, for many years. Typically, they have tried a bewildering number of treatment approaches and enjoyed some success in reducing symptoms. But the symptoms, pain, numbness, tingling, weak muscles, etc., never completely resolve. Many decide to try chiropractic as a last resort.

This puts the chiropractic approach at a disadvantage because of having to address abnormal chronic changes that have established over time. For example,
“With soft tissue injuries there is frequently tearing and stretching of the involved soft-tissues as well as damage produced from local micro-hemorrhage and inflammation. The reaction is the usual bodily response to such trauma and its inevitable sequelae commonly known as “scar tissue”. Scar tissue forms not only on the skin, but on all internal lesions as well; such as muscle tears, sprains, strains, or where internal surgery has been performed. As damaged tissues heal, local areas of inflammation remain chronic sources of irritation because the body repairs a wound, ulcer, or other lesions by increasing its production of the tough, fibrous protein, collagen, at the site of damage. The collagen helps form new connective tissue that covers the area to the lesion. Adhesions are areas of scar tissue that form between internal organs and are a potential complication of not only internal surgeries, such as intestinal operations, but also of sprains, strains, and other soft tissue lesions. This results in area tissues that retain fluid from the inflamed state. This further creates a weakening of the fibers, as well as creating a rigid and fibrotic state due to “healed” but damaged tissue.” (Reference: The American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine, Random House, New York, 1989).

The first step in working with your chronic complaints is to “back out” some of the results and sequelae of previous treatments and the chronic changes inherent in longer-term injuries. This requires commitment, compliance and patience on your part and that of the doctor. Recognizing that the fibrotic tissue of a scar tends to develop in a disorganized ball rather than along organized planes the body needs, the first task is to re-organize that tissue so it works with you rather than presenting an obstacle to normal function.

This is not to say that you will not see benefits fairly quickly because you probably will. But you should keep in mind that to achieve as close to 100% as possible will take time. You do not notice pain until your body reaches a pain threshold. Your chiropractor can often help you back across that pain threshold fairly quickly but that is nowhere near 100%. You are just on the other side of that threshold and the least stress can send you back into pain. The goal is to move you as far from pain as possible and this takes time and treatment. Much of your chiropractic treatment will occur while you are not suffering from acute pain.

Remember, your body didn’t get this way overnight and is not going to achieve repair quickly. However, the goal of achieving and exceeding a pain-free life is well worth the commitment.

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