How To Keep Pain From Coming Back
When we go to the doctor, we are typically going for a reason. Nobody has time for pain so when it gets to a certain point, it is time to get it knocked out. That is about the time we go to the doctor. For spinal pain and headaches, I’m biased but I hope that you are going to a patient-centered, evidence-based chiropractor. There are few practitioners better-positioned to get patients better faster and safer than a well-educated chiropractor.
The first thing to say on the topic is that current guides say that our primary initiative should be to teach the patient to control; pain or flare-ups at home without depending on lifelong care in a clinic. If we are not moving our patients in that direction with their treatment, we are putting them at a long-term disadvantage. Our patients should not be taught to depend on us all year long, every year, throughout their lives.
Now, let us assume to went to the chiropractor, you have made the investment, you attended your appointments for 2-3 weeks, and you are feeling better than you have felt in a while. At that point, how do you keep the pain away?
This is going to be a multi-part answer because everyone is different, every complaint is different, and everyone heals at a different speed. For example, young people are still basically made of rubber and super healing powers so it makes sense they will heal faster than an elderly patient. They will also have a better chance of healing completely and having no lingering issues.
For acute pain that has been going for just a week or two, the process is fairly straight forward when coming to our chiropractic office in Amarillo, TX. We have a high rate of success for these patients. Their pain resolves fairly quickly and, when utilizing some exercises at home, the pain typically resolves quickly never to return.
For subacute pain, which is pain that’s been around more than a few weeks but LESS than 2-3 months, the process of pain relief is probably going to be extended compared to regular, short-lived acute pain. Still, it should be fairly straightforward and resolve with some attention. For some, it’s going to take a couple of weeks while for others it may take a couple of months. All the while, the chiropractor should be teaching the patient to control their pain and mitigate it through at-home exercises. This is a vital part of providing a successful recovery and a successful elimination of ongoing, lingering complaints.
The more concerning scenario is when patients come into our Amarillo chiropractic office with truly chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as having pain at least every other day for a time period of six months. There are a couple of different types of chronic pain. One being termed ‘high impact chronic pain’. These patients are likely to never be pain-free but they do well with periodic visits.
It is vital to understand that the longer pain lasts, the more and more of that pain begins to live and exist in the brain itself. The best way to demonstrate this concept is speaking about phantom limb pain. It is common for a person to have an amputation where a leg or an arm is completely removed. Some of these patients will still have pain in the limb that was removed. Even though the limb is gone. How can that be?
It is because part of the pain exists in the brain. Your brain will store information from painful experiences, what you have been told, and your beliefs about your own abilities. It will use that information to make future decisions that ensure your safety. Your brain uses pain as a protection mechanism and so this information is used to decide how much you will hurt, what your brain thinks it’s OK to do, and what it thinks it is not OK to do and it uses pain to control it all.
So, some chronic pain patients will never be fully pain-free but making chronic pain more tolerable through chiropractic care is VERY realistic and VERY reasonable. This will include at-home control exercises, building movement habits, understanding the difference between ‘hurt’ and ‘harm’, and gaining more confidence about re-engaging with life as it is meant to be lived.
Regardless of what type of pain a patient has, there is newer research that has emerged in just the last couple of years that shows patients that treat on a preventative care schedule or a maintenance schedule do better through the course of the year than those that only go when they hurt.
On average, people going periodically to prevent pain rather than only going when they hurt spent about 2+ weeks in no pain when compared to the group that only went when they hurt. Not only did the preventative group get to spend two weeks less in pain, but they also only attended one visit more than the other group over the course of the year.
The key to getting out of pain is to find yourself a smart, well-trained, patient-centered, evidence-based chiropractor. Everything else will typically fall into line when you find the right one.
Pain does not have to control your life. You can control it and the best chiropractors show you how and teach you how. We have seen it for decades; pain can change people. But, fortunately for our patients, chiropractors can change pain.
Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM is a Fellowship-trained Neuromusculoskeletal specialist and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast. Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected]
Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at https://www.amarillochiropractor.com. Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Care at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109