Help, the Pain is Killing Me!
Proactive Approach to Pain
Many Americans suffer from chronic pain. In fact, according to the National Centers for Health Statistics, more than one-quarter of Americans (26%) age 20 years and over - an estimated 76.5 million Americans - report that they have had a problem with pain. They awaken in the morning in pain and go to bed at night in pain. And for many, sleep is interrupted due to pain. Such pain limits activities and limits life enjoyment. But what can a person do?
An estimated 20% of American adults (42 million people) report that pain or physical discomfort disrupts their sleep a few nights a week or more.1
The old view solution was to see a medical doctor who would most likely prescribe pain medication. Of course, as time went on, more and more medication would be needed in order to combat the pain. And that was if you were lucky enough to be helped by the pain medication in the first place. If the pain persisted, surgery was often the next avenue of care. The problem with surgery is that the “cure” often leaves chronic pain sufferers in more pain. Perhaps a different pain, but pain nonetheless.
The old medical model is a model of disease. The first line of defense is to mask the symptoms. The second line of defense is to surgically repair. This is very different from the wellness model practiced by chiropractors. Chiropractors do not seek to mask symptoms. Instead, we seek to help the body function at its most optimal level by fixing subluxations in the spine. We seek the cause of the problem.
In order to understand how chiropractic can help chronic pain sufferers, it will be helpful to define pain. Pain is not a bad thing in and of itself. Of course for those experiencing it, it is no fun. However, pain is the body’s way of sending an SOS to the body. The message is that something is wrong and the SOS is loud enough that it can’t be ignored.
Words Defined: Acute Pain
Pain that comes on quickly, can be severe, but lasts a relatively short time.
If a person feels a sufficient amount of pain, they will stop doing the activity that is causing the pain. This is the protective mechanism built into the body to help prevent further injury. Pain is useful as long as it is keeping us healthy. However, pain can get out of control. It can continue long after its usefulness has been achieved.
Words Defined: Chronic Pain
Pain that lasts long after the initial injury has healed. It may be caused by a disease, such as arthritis, or it may be the result of an injury such as back strain.
Pain that stops you from injuring yourself further is called acute pain. It is the body’s response to injury. For instance, if you twist your ankle while hiking along a trail, the pain you feel is acute pain. Chronic pain is that which persists far beyond the twisted ankle. Chronic pain has many sources:
- Injuries that did not heal correctly or completely
- Long-term disease
- Injuries to the
- Nervous system
The annual cost of chronic pain in the United States, including healthcare expenses, lost income, and lost productivity, is estimated to be $100 billion. 2
Of course, there are other potential sources, but no matter what, the source of chronic pain is one that encompasses an unresolved issue with the body. The biggest problem with chronic pain is that it starts a vicious cycle that leads to more pain. The longer we feel pain, the more our body tries to accommodate the pain. This is often through unusual body movements and posture, and through a reduction of activities. The more the body accommodates the pain, the more difficult it is to get rid of it. It can be a very difficult cycle to break. This is where chiropractic care comes in. Chiropractic treatment can help reduce or even eliminate many kinds of pain and has been shown to be especially effective with chronic pain.
Studies Show Chiropractic Better Than Muscle Relaxants for Low Back Pain
A study published in the July 2004 Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics compared the effects of chiropractic adjustments to muscle relaxants in patients’ low back pain that lasted two to 12 weeks. The three groups of patients included those with chiropractic adjustments and a placebo, those receiving muscle relaxants with fake adjustments, and finally a group with placebo medications and fake adjustments. The results showed for pain and severity, the chiropractic group did better than the other two groups. The conclusion: "Statistically, the chiropractic group responded significantly better than the control group with respect to a decrease in pain scores." 4<p>
How can chiropractic help when medication cannot? Chiropractic principles state that although injury or illness may be the original cause of pain, everything that happens to the body involves the nervous system.
. Any impact to the body will involve the skeletal system in general and the spine in particular
. Disease causes muscular issues. Muscles affect the way we move. Movement and posture affects the spine.
. Blocked nerve impulses are due to subluxations in the spine.
Chiropractic’s role is to establish the normal function of muscles, joints and the nervous system, thus eliminating the root causes of chronic pain. Studies have shown that chiropractic treatments are among the most effective pain management plans. Chiropractic is low-risk. It has no side effects like those associated with medication. And best of all, chiropractic may not only manage pain, but can eliminate the cause of pain altogether.
Upon referral to Dr. Rardin I brought my wife to his office. She had been dealing with back pain and a sciatic nerve condition. It involved a great deal of pain and much addictive medication. She would take 2 to 3 baths during the night trying to get some relief. I witnessed her agony and there was nothing I could do for her. Between delivering two babies and a severely broken ankle, this lady can tolerate pain, but not this time. After about a month with Dr.Rardin she noticed she was getting relief. It has been about 10 months now and she is about 90% back to normal. She also has reduced her medication by 95%.
Oh My Aching Back
Four out of five people initially come to a chiropractor because of back pain. Back pain can be caused by:
- Pinched nerves
- Bulging or herniated discs
- Muscle pain
- Vertebral subluxation
Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. More than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20-64 experience frequent back pain. 5
The 1994 Federal Agency for Health Policy and Research (AHCPR) guidelines for low-back pain found that spinal adjustment, a primary chiropractic treatment, is effective based on rigorous research. For years, medical doctors have held the belief that lower back pain will resolve itself within three months with or without some kind of intervention. This is contrary, however, to what doctors of chiropractic have known to be true for years. In fact, a recent study in the British Medical Journal found that only one in four back pain sufferers had recovered 12 months after an initial visit to a medical doctor.
The Consumer Reports Health Rating Center released the results of a survey of over 14,000 patients with back pain on April 6, 2009. Results showed that chiropractic spinal manipulation is the top-rated treatment for people suffering with back pain. In fact, survey respondents were almost twice as likely to be highly satisfied with their chiropractic care than they were with their medical care. Chiropractic spinal manipulation is effective for back pain and musculoskeletal injuries – based on both research and patient satisfaction. Using chiropractic for these problems should definitely be a first choice course of action, especially since we provide a drug-free, non-invasive, personalized treatment plan.
Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. More than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20-64 experience frequent back pain. 5
Chiropractic is Cost-Effective in Treating Chronic Back Pain
A study published in the October 2005 issue of The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) showed that chiropractic patients with both acute and chronic pain had less pain and higher satisfaction than those that sought medical care.
Additionally, chiropractic treatment was 16 percent less expensive than medical care costs. And finally, the satisfaction rate among chiropractic patients was much higher. The conclusion: "With their mission to increase value and respond to patient preferences, health care organizations and policy makers need to reevaluate the appropriateness of chiropractic as a treatment option for low-back pain." 6
Low Back Pain Study by Insurance Company Favorable to Chiropractic
Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS) of Kansas presented a study titled "Lumbago Treatment." The results showed that chiropractic was more cost-effective than anesthesiology; neurosurgery; neurology; registered physical therapy; orthopedic reconstructive surgery; physical medicine and rehabilitation; and rheumatology. Patients had a willingness to return to the chiropractor that was 22% greater than the combined total of medical portals. The conclusion: “Patients suffering from back problems are better off with cost-effective chiropractic care.” 7
Don’t Be a Pain In the Neck
Your neck is also known as the cervical spine. It begins at the base of the skull and has seven tiny vertebrae head, which weighs 12 to 15 pounds. The miracle is that your cervical spine can move your head in every direction. That miracle of flexibility, however, makes your neck very susceptible to injury and pain. The study of how the neck and head move is called biomechanics. One way that biomechanics affects the neck is through postural stress.
Neck pain is very common with approximately 15 percent of women and 10 percent of men affected at any given time. 8
Words Defined: Postural Stress
Strain on the nerves, blood vessels and soft tissues from sitting for long hours or performing repetitive motions. This can lead to tight muscles, chronic soft tissue inflammation and arm symptoms.
In addition to long hours of sitting or performing repetitive motions, poor spinal mechanics, weak or overdeveloped muscles, and poorly designed workspaces are often factors in postural stress.
Other factors that can lead to neck pain include:
- Poor posture
- Weak abdominal muscles
- Stress and emotional tension
- Osteoarthritis - progressive deterioration of cartilage
- Spinal stenosis – narrowing of the nerve passageways
- Degenerative disc disease - reduction in the elasticity and height of intervertebral discs
Single Adjustment Helps Neck Pain
A study published in the September 2006 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics showed that even just one chiropractic adjustment could help neck pain. In fact, within five minutes of an adjustment, patients have less pain and a better range of motion.9
Chiropractic care has been proven to be extremely beneficial to patients suffering from neck pain and it is widely recognized as one of the safest non-invasive therapies available for neck pain complaints. A chiropractor understands that the neck is just one part of the spine and that other symptoms such as shoulder or arm pain are part of the same underlying issue.
Chiropractic Care Beneficial for Chronic Neck Pain
A study published in the February 2006 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) shows that patients with chronic neck pain benefit from chiropractic. Patients were divided into two groups – one with chiropractic care and one without. Those that received chiropractic care showed significantly less pain intensity. Additionally, Head repositioning accuracy (HRA), a test that measures the ability to reposition the head in a neutral posture after active movements, also showed significant improvement. The conclusion: "The results of this study suggest that chiropractic care can be effective in influencing the complex process of proprioceptive sensibility and pain of cervical origin." In layman’s terms, chiropractic can help people with chronic neck pain. 10
Is It My Heart?
Before beginning this section, I want to be sure that you understand that chest pain can be serious. In fact, it is better to assume that you are having a heart attack and go directly to the emergency room.
However, if after visiting the ER or a cardiologist you find that you are not having cardiovascular issues, you may want to consider chiropractic care. Why? Because nearlyone-fourth of chest pain comes from something called costo-sternal chest pain. This pain is due to a subluxation of the costo-chondral cartilage - the joint between the rib and the breastbone. A subluxated rib head - where the rib joins the spine - can also cause chest pain. Three small joints join the rib to the spine and are easily sprained, even by something as simple as an explosive sneeze. You can tell if you have a subluxated rib head if you have pain when you inhale deeply. This pain often feels like a knife between the shoulder blades.
There is also Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). With TOS, a large group of nerves called the brachial plexus is affected, causing pain, tingling, or a dull ache in an arm, as well as over the chest and shoulder area. It is caused from a subluxation of the first rib. As you can see, many people with chest pain actually have a subluxation problem rather than a heart problem. Chiropractic adjustment has proven to be effective for these conditions.
In a study of 250 patients hospitalized for chest pain, 23% of the non-cardiac patients were felt to have a Costo-sternal cause.11
Are You One of the 90 Percent?
Nearly 90% of Americans suffer from headaches. True, not all suffer from debilitating migraines, but any headache is a sign that something is not right. In fact, having no headaches at all is normal for someone that is truly healthy.
Headaches can be caused by many different things and are known as triggers. Triggers can include:
- Muscle tension
- Excessive exercise
- Blood sugar issues
Words Defined: Migraine
A severe, disabling headache, usually affecting only one side of the head, and often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, photophobia and visual disturbances.
Ninety-five percent of headaches are just that – headaches. They do not have any underlying disease and are the primary concern. These headaches include tension, migraine or cluster headaches.
The majority of headaches are caused by muscle tension. Americans spend large amounts of time sitting in one position. This causes joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back, and scalp, causing your neck to ache.
Chiropractors understand how tension in the spine relates to other parts of the body, including those that cause headaches. We can take the necessary steps to relieve headaches for most patients without using drugs
Studies Show Headaches Helped by Chiropractic
In the September 2001 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics was a report on the effectiveness of chiropractic care for patients with chronic headaches. Results showed that the chiropractic group did better than the massage group, and better than the medication group without all the side effects. The conclusion: chiropractic is one of the most effective avenues of health for headache sufferers.12
- Chiropractic adjustment
- Increased range of motion with less pain
- You will move more
- Movement slows or halts the advancement of arthritis
- Chiropractic adjustment
- Increased mobility
- And on and on
Arthritis puts your body into a negative feedback loop.
Chiropractic helps get your body into a positive feedback loop.
Remember, the model for chiropractic is the wellness model and the understanding that the body can heal itself. By correcting subluxations, the chiropractor can increase the range of motion and allow the healing process to begin.
A big benefit of using chiropractic is that you will not have to rely on prescription pain medicines or over-the-counter pain medications with their harmful side effects.
Chiropractic is non-invasive and can help arthritis, not as a series of symptoms to be masked, but in a way that will create freedom of movement.
Chiropractic emphasizes the body’s ability to heal itself, working through the nervous system, the primary coordinator of all body functions. Studies have shown that chiropractors are helpful in dealing with low back pain, sciatica, neck pain and other chronic pain issues. If you or someone you love has chronic pain, seeing a chiropractor may well be the first step towards health.
An estimated 46 million adults in the United States reported being told by a doctor that they have some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalgia. By 2030, an estimated 67 million of Americans aged 18 years or older will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. 13
- Chronic Pain Management, Michael E. Schatman, Alexandra Campbell, John D. Loeser. 2007.
- American Pain Foundation, http://www.painfoundation.org/page.asp?file=Newsroom/P ainFacts.htm.
- K. Beyerman, M. Palmerino, L. Zohn, G. Kane, K. Foster. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. “ Efficacy of Treating Low Back Pain and Dysfunction Secondary to Osteoarthritis: Chiropractic Care Compared With Moist Heat Alone.” January 2005.
- K.Hoiriis, B.Pfleger, F.McDuffie, G.Cotsonis, O.Elsangak, R.Hinson, G.Verzosa. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. “A Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing Chiropractic Adjustments to Muscle Relaxants for Subacute Low Back Pain.” July 2004.
- Literature review, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. March/April 2007.
- Mitchell Haas, Rajiv Sharma, Miron Stano. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics “Cost- Effectiveness of Medical and Chiropractic Care for Acute and Chronic Low Back Pain. October 2005.
- Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS) of Kansas. "Lumbago Treatment." August 1999.
- Sanjeeb Shrestha, Pankaj Jay Pasricha. Digestive Diseases, “Update on Noncardiac Chest Pain.” 2000.
- R. Martínez-Segura, C. Fernández-de-las-Peñas, M. Ruiz-Sáez, C. López-Jiménez, C. Rodríguez-Blanco. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. “Immediate Effects on Neck Pain and Active Range of Motion After a Single Cervical High-Velocity Low-Amplitude Manipulation in Subjects Presenting with Mechanical Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” September 2006.
- P. Palmgren, P. Sandström, F. Lundqvist, H. Heikkilä. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. “Improvement After Chiropractic Care in Cervicocephalic Kinesthetic Sensibility and Subjective Pain Intensity in Patients with Nontraumatic Chronic Neck Pain.” February 2006.
- National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, http://www.cdc.gov/ARTHRITIS/data_statistics/arthritis_rel ated_statistics.htm#1.
- Gert Bronfort, DC, PhDa, Willem J.J. Assendelft, MD, PhDb, Roni Evans, Dca, Mitchell Haas, DCc, Lex Bouter, PhDd. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. “Efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic headache: A systematic review.” September 2001.
- NHIS. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2006.