A patient developed lower back and shoulder pain over the pandemic and believed it was due to working at home with less-than-perfect ergonomic conditions.
Her lower back pain evolved into shoulder pain which took months of therapy to improve. More recently the pain developed into the right shoulder and she endured months of therapy again which did little to resolve her pain. She was told numerous things by the orthopedic who had ordered MRI scans of the shoulders, and lower back and was told she had conditions that did not make sense while I performed her history.
As many of us are finding out, getting doctors appointments, getting proper diagnosis of our problems, and getting the proper care to resolve our problems often takes time, research, and making the right decisions on our own behalf. In my experience, people have more of these experiences where the diagnosis is wrong and a relatively benign problem is being medicalized with high costs, poor results, and a patient experiencing more chronic pain when it should quickly resolve.
I always explain to patients that you are not a protocol and that we cannot treat everyone the same way as we are all different. Some of us are shorter, taller, thinner, female with wider hips. We are all shaped differently with different histories. It is therefore the doctor’s job to be thorough, especially when problems do not involve trauma as in this woman’s case. We must understand the person in front of us and act accordingly. The factory conveyor belt approach may improve some people, but most will find that over months or years, their problems become more chronic as the medical system continues to fail them. There is a better and more logical way to get better care.
After questioning everything about her back, knees, and finally her currently painful shoulder which was guarded when I moved it to evaluate it, I performed a thorough chiropractic holistic evaluation.
She was never told that she had flat feet, was knock-kneed, and that the body asymmetry she had was the basis for why she was hurting in her shoulder. She was aware of her hips being uneven and her neck was painful a the end of the day, something she attributed to sitting for hours.
Diagnostically, the problems in her shoulder began in the feet, affected her hips, distorted her body, and resulted in shoulder pain. Taping her feet in neutral leveled her hips, reduced her back pain, improved her ability to squat, and reduced her shoulder pain. The orthopedic mistakenly evaluated where she hurt but ignored why. The therapist simply did what her prescription told them to do even though they were doctors of physical therapy.
Chiropractors are holistically trained physicians specializing in primary care for the musculoskeletal system. We are trained to look at people first, and then do a thorough history, and in many cases, the doctor also does the therapy or treatments and keeps things simple. Rather than viewing the patient as a protocol to a painful area, the chiropractor understands that underlying musculoskeletal pain is impaired mobility. The better we move, the better we feel and function.
What you should expect during your chiropractic visit.
The best chiropractors will take a thorough history, do a functional evaluation, and use treat-test-treat protocols. They will question everything and evaluate your progress on each visit. Their goals are your goals.
Treatment usually includes manipulation of the spine and extremities, myofascial release to the tight and dysfunctional fascial system altering how you move often causing pain, and the use of exercises to retrain a problem region.
X-rays are sometimes used in chronic problems, older patients, and with trauma to rule out pathology.
Foot orthotics are often recommended to restore symmetry to the pelvis and improve how you move.
Our office usually orders fewer than 10 MRI exams a year. When doctors don’t know, they test, Medical providers know very little about the musculoskeletal system and order more tests as a result.
Chiropractors who do a thorough exam often can avoid these tests as they will often not help you recover in any way and current research shows that in the USA, we order too many tests.
Resolving musculoskeletal pain is often simple until the problems become chronic. Often, problems become chronic when we ignore them and more importantly, when your doctors don’t understand your problem and refer you to others repeatedly. The result is more tests, more drugs, more costs, and chronicity resulting in painful damaged joints that can require painful risky surgeries. The good news is that starting with the right practitioner first will make a huge difference.
Often, patients mistakenly follow the path of what is covered under insurance. While our offices do participate with some insurers, we have many patients who will gladly pay for care outside their network. Years later, the joint damage from the wrong care can be irreversible. It’s your body and your responsibility; take good care of it.
Seeing a chiropractor for primary care of the musculoskeletal system should be your first choice for back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee, and even hip and foot pain. This woman’s experience was due to providers treating the pain while failing to understand the problem. Keeping it simpler minimizes the mistakes. Being holistic in our care is important because of how the body works.
Why treat the pain medically when it needs the care of a body mechanic? Chiropractors are the most effective body mechanics in the healthcare system however, we are also trained to recognize other healthcare problems and will refer them when necessary.
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