In chronic pain? Are you being widgeted by our healthcare system?

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Are we not men, we are Devo was taken from a song by a popular band named Devo in the 1970s.  The concept was the devolution (de-evolution) of our society.   Basically, the idea of a failure to evolve or worse, go backward. For those who are somewhat familiar with the term widget, it talks about a product that is produced, usually in quantities of 100 or more. An  iPhone and an Amazon Echo are popular widgets. The American healthcare system has devolved into treating us like widgets or products by convincing us that most of our symptoms are a result of diseases. Diseases are basically symptoms that have been grouped together usually named after someone or someplace.  In order to recommend a drug for a health problem, it needs to be classified as a disease. The disease was derived from two syllables, dis, and ease meaning that you do not feel good.  Other than that, the term is rather meaningless, even though it has been adopted to mean something more sinister and life-threatening has entered or attacked our bodies and is making us ill, requiring medicine, or a medical approach to the symptom or series of symptoms. The media and the internet have amplified this idea of disease making us ill, while the true reasons for illness can be more complex than a symptom and a pill to cure it. Chronic diffuse body pain was classified as a disease called Fibromyalgia in 1990 by Rheumatologist's who had similar cases but were unable to classify them in a meaningful way.  The classification resulted in many prescriptions of Lyrica as well as other medications to treat the manifestations of the disease which included tender points, disturbed sleep patterns, and chronic pain that was beyond what was found clinically. The product of this disease has been hundreds of thousands of people taking products made by big pharma that may improve the symptoms of the disease. Doctors who described and developed the Fibromyalgia classification knew little about the musculoskeletal system and how or why their patients were in pain, nor did they understand how to properly evaluate a chronic pain patient.  Most patients do not realize that when they are diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, they are placed in a widget category and many will be placed on the same medications, with little regard for why they are in pain.  Females make up the majority of Fibromyalgia patients.  Since women have a wider based pelvis, body asymmetry is likely to be exacerbated after puberty and maybe a reason why more women are diagnosed with the disease. The book, Cheating Mother Nature , what you need to know to beat chronic pain, speaks of enlightened practitioners who understand the mechanisms of movement and see body mechanics as a holistic response to how we react to the ground while walking.  Some of us are built to hurt, while others, not so much.   Healthcare practitioners who are doing a thorough proper evaluation are most likely to help us understand why we hurt.  They are also likely to understand that we come from family lines and carry genetic traits that affect the way we look, walk, and move. Modern Medicines reductionist ideas that we need so many specialists and we are not the sums of our parts perhaps is why so many people are in pain. Years ago, there was value in how primary care required a doctor who took the time to ask us questions and look into our problems.  These relationships often went quite deep, as the doctor often was a family friend as well and took a personal interest in our welfare, unlike today's model of 10-minute office visits and specialist driven model. We are not Devo, we are not widgets, and we need to be evaluated and treated as individuals for care of any sort to be effective. This requires a holistic approach to care, that has the emphasis of prevention, rather than intervention and medication. This is especially true with chronic pain. The current opioid mess was created by doctors who didn't understand what pain was but understood the need to control it.   Big pharma and their distribution channels were a large part of the problem. They made sure these highly addictive Opium based pain medications were delivered to the public in mass by healthcare providers who had little to no understanding of the problems their widespread use would cause.  Worse, as discussed recently on 60 minutes, big pharma manipulated the DEA by hiring the same attorneys that were employed by the government to investigate them for their abuses with opioids.  The epidemic was a reflection of the widget, fragmented one size fits all approach medicine uses with chronic pain, while they could have referred most of these patients to practitioners such as chiropractors who are better trained to perform primary care for most musculoskeletal problems. The truth is, we are all built differently, and some of us will be in chronic pain because of it.  The widget approach wants to treat pain; the holistic approach uses a patient-centered approach that tailors the care to the patient's unique biomechanical problems, solving the pain problem without medication or surgery in most cases.

Three things you can do now to prevent being the next opioid statistic and avoid the widget approach of one size fits all medicine.

Our current healthcare system has a horrible record with the management of most chronic conditions, especially chronic pain.  Calling our problem a disease, sending us to a stream of specialists who do not understand why we hurt but give us medications is the problem.  Fragmented care is counterproductive and results in chronic pain later in life, and unnecessary expensive testing that offers little value to the system or the patient. The long term result is damaged joints that need to be replaced, which is a growing business model. More doctors are referring to doctors of chiropractic and some have been using them for their own problems, however, many still are not referring most of their chronic pain patients to chiropractors first.   Patients must insist on a referral or seek out a doctor of chiropractic through their own referral sources. One insurer in California realized that all of their Medical insured patient areas in California had Opioid problems in 2014, and decided to change the way they operated. They restricted the use of Opioids and used the money they saved to place chiropractors in their networks.  The result was that Opioid use dropped markedly, and patient satisfaction rose as well. This is a great example of why the widget approach to pain is harmful and ineffective. A holistic mechanical approach to pain is more appropriate since we are mechanical beings.  The musculoskeletal systems integrate with the organ systems so when we look at chronic pain, it can be musculoskeletal or even a gut problem that is causing inflammation.   When managed properly, most chronic pain can be resolved or markedly improved without the use of medication to mask the problem.  Actually working on the mechanism of pain may in fact be the true solution to helping people get out of pain. Drug companies are realizing that many diseases in the body are caused by inflammation and are now trying to cash in, using their clout with the medical community. Here are three things you can do get out of pain safely, effectively, and naturally.
  1. Find a good chiropractor, a great massage therapist, and a great holistic provider who looks at you, rather than just your symptoms.
  2. Eat better and healthier foods.   Avoid many of the whites such as sugar, bleached flour, white rice that have little nutritional value. Eat dark leafy vegetables and lots of colorful ones as well and make them fresh.
  3. Exercise regularly for good physical fitness and overall cardiovascular health.
Your body is a machine that requires care and maintenance.   Managing health by the numbers does not mean you are healthy if it is managed through medication, especially if the medication is being used to treat a mechanical problem.  Staying healthy and having a healthier lifestyle will help reduce pain, improve your energy levels and overall, reduce your need to visit the doctor.