Why Do So Many People Choose Chiropractic?
It's always nice to start the week busy, it keeps me motivated, it keeps me learning new things and more importantly I get to help more and more people every year.
People often come to me as a last resort, they have tried the GP, medication, stretching, often seen orthopaedic specialists and had various imaging techniques like X-ray, MRI and ultrasound. They all have one thing in common and that is seeking pain relief.
Pain is a complex topic, it affects pretty much everyone at some point in their life time. It's not straight forward and can affect people in many different ways. Back pain is probably the most common ailment I see and sometimes the toughest to treat. Low back pain is often called non-specific back pain because often we can find little as to what is causing it. The difference is that we can help this pain in many wonderful ways.
I often start by asking how people feel about their pain, how it affects their ADL (active daily living), their thoughts towards their pain and what types of activities they avoid so not to increase pain levels or make the issue worse. This is often where the great work is done. Many feel they are broken, fragile, damaged, have crumbly spines or disabled, because of preconceived ideas many people make the pain worse because of fear. This then creates a cycle of fearing the worst and avoiding things that could actually benefit them.
The spine is one of the toughest parts of our body and is pretty hard to break, yes issues more serious can arise but it is pretty rare. Less than 1% of back pain is because of cancer and even people with other issues like thinning bones (osteoporosis) can still lead a normal life. Chronic pain is pain that has lasted more than three months, and this is where the pain gets more complicated. Some people can get a muscle strain that clears up after 6 weeks and some people end up with longer term pain. We are not too sure why but we do know that the soft tissues can become hyper-sensitive. This hypersensitivity is what we think is the brain protecting us from perceived danger. The muscles then become tight, tender and triggers pain receptors in the muscle that the brain perceives as pain. When this happens it becomes an issue, often at rest the person can fixate on the pain and hey presto pain levels increase. What is the likelihood that if an earthquake struck in Cardiff that the pain levels would be the same. Or a plate crashed in the kitchen? So how we think about our pain and out attitudes has a real measurable affect on pain levels.
So why do people come to chiropractors for their pain?
For me I want to help people reach their potential, I want to show them what their body can actually do. Get them to touch their toes again, play the sport they miss, play with their children, go out on a night out, sit without being in pain and help them over come the fears they have about their own pain.
Much of what I do is hands on with things like acupuncture, soft tissue work, spinal manipulation, rehab and exercises. But talking about the pain and putting the patients mind at rest has a powerful effect also. I have even had times where no hands on therapy has improved the patients pain levels because the fear has subsided creating relaxation, a drop in the stress hormone cortisol which does wonders for dropping pain levels.
People come to my practice because it is natural, safe and friendly. Having a welcoming environment where you can voice your concerns is a therapy in itself. This is why so many people choose chiropractic!
1. Waddell, G. (2004) The back pain revolution. 2nd edn. London: Churchill Livingstone.