We must end one size fits all healthcare for musculoskeletal back and neck pain. Here’s what you can do about it.
A common conversation I have with new patients is that we tailor the care to your needs. the conversation begins with what is normal and then what is normal for you. Normal is what you have always known and felt such as your neck always being tight, never being able to touch your toes, or knees always cracking when you squat. They are normal to you because this is what you always remember feeling from the time you were young.
Why a personalized approach to care is needed for the care of what makes us hurt.
In my book Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain, I explain that before the age of 5-6, we all are growing out of being toddlers and we then walk more like most adults. Toddlers all have flat feet and have different styles of walking. By the age of 5-6, developing asymmetries can be evaluated with many of these traits being similar to our parents.
We inherit these traits. We then grow taller and experience puberty, with more distinct differences between males and females. Our final height is as unique as our body mechanics. Some of us are broader, or big-boned while others are petite. Some of us are highly asymmetrical in build and we adapt to it while others have naturally better symmetry and are less likely to experience knee or back problems.
As you look around, you will realize that unless you were adopted, you look like your parents and likely walk like them too.
As your doctor, I look at function from the ground up and take a holistic approach to evaluating you with a thorough history the first time we meet. I explain to patients, “You are going to tell me how you feel and I will ask questions. I am sure you will be honest about how you feel. and I will be honest about what I see. This exchange of ideas is the path forward to helping you solve your problem(s).
The majority of our patients who are consistent with their care plans improve or have their problems resolved this way using chiropractic methods including foot orthotics, exercises, myofascial treatment, and manipulation of the joints to improve the way you move.
This is primary care for the musculoskeletal system, an approach that is badly needed to reduce costs, improve patient satisfaction, and most importantly, efficiently help those in need.
A visit to a chiropractor with back or neck pain and your doctor will look at you from the feet up and often be able to explain why you hurt while you begin to feel better with chiropractic techniques and management. Off-the-shelf inserts may be given on the first day and the rationale for why you are treated this way is explained so you can understand the cause of your problem. Since lower back pain can be a foot problem, a sprain from lifting, an upper back problem, or a hip joint problem, understanding the unique reason why you hurt leads to more effective diagnosis and treatment.
A visit to a chiropractor with plantar fasciitis and the care is aimed toward why you are slamming your heels into the ground which often helps the condition resolve quickly, while other chronic problems that feel normal to you resolve as well. The treatment is geared towards solving the reason you hurt which is unique to you. Different people have heel or foot pain for different reasons. This is unique to you.
A visit to a chiropractor with a headache or vertigo, the chiropractor may find that your entire side is tight and when resolved, the neck pain, headache, tightness, and even the vertigo may have already resolved.
Go to your regular doctor with neck or back pain and you are likely to get a brief history of your neck and back and a recommendation for medication for relief of pain or a script for therapy to the back. You may get a diagnosis of a back sprain, lumbago, or facet syndrome, or with certain orthopedic tests, the doctor may order an MRI to rule out something. These are protocols that are used to evaluate everyone. The current data suggests doctors take too many x rays and order too many MRI tests that do not help patients feel better. The opioid crisis actually was caused by the drug-first approach being used inappropriately with a drug doctors later realized was more addictive than advertised. Ask them why you hurt and you are likely to get a generalized one size fits all answer that mirrors their treatment thought process.
Experience plantar fasciitis and the podiatrist may immediately suggest custom orthotics, do an injection to the point of impact of your heel to relieve the pain as you wait weeks for your inserts to arrive. Usually with plantar fasciitis, the plantar fascia is the point of impact, not the cause.
Your headache can be diagnosed as a migraine or cluster or tension and usually, a medication is recommended. If you get vertigo, a referral is usually made to another specialist.
Your knee pain may first be evaluated at primary care sends you to an orthopedic who in the past may have done a meniscus surgery after their MRI had shown a tear. A few years ago, studies had shown this approach failed over 40 years to save most knees and people had multiple procedures over the years. Ironically, they found that all these surgeries often were no better than physical therapy to the leg which is also ineffective as knee pain is often due to malfunctions in how we walk which is an adaptive problem.
Primary care medical providers will refer you to specialists requiring more tests, and costs, using a non-holistic approach to the problem. As more primary doctors work for hospitals or large groups owned by Wall street related companies, they are incentivized to refer more in the system using one-size-only protocols for doing so.
Usually, those approaches include more drugs, and therapies for problems that are likely mechanical in nature. Drugs cannot fix dysfunctional body mechanics. The segmentation of care results in higher costs, poorer results, and more procedures that can cause more problems than treating the problem naturally. Segmented care is a medical construct that works poorly when applied to the mechanics of the human body. Many conditions such as frozen shoulder, meniscus tears, and stiff necks involve mechanical dysfunction within the body. Understanding why using fewer people keeps it simple. reduces costs, improves outcomes, and improves overall satisfaction with care.
Healthcare policy experts agree that who you visit first for a health problem will determine your results, satisfaction and costs of care.
Why visit a chiropractor first for headaches, back pain, neck pain, and knee problems?
Chiropractic primary care of the musculoskeletal system keeps it simple. Rather than segmenting the care, the doctor evaluates, treats, and refers if necessary. Primary care in the USA used to do this years ago and the doctor knew you, rather than the part they were treating.
We are indeed the sum of our parts and recent research shows that pain is a problem of movement. Chiropractors are doctors of movement.
While sometimes a patient in pain may initially use both the medical and chiropractic approach for relief of pain, the chiropractic approach is often enough to help you feel and function better quickly. Do this right and a number of other things you normally live with improve as well. Do this wrong, the problem can become more chronic. Sometimes, physical therapy is recommended to help a patient further train a region of the body that requires help. Most patients get what they need during their chiropractic visits. Think of chiropractic as a one-stop shop for all things musculoskeletal.
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