You would think this topic would be simple, but the fact is, most people choose doctors without clearly thinking whether the doctor chosen is the best person to address the problem. If a person experiences tooth pain, they would likely schedule an appointment to see their dentist. This makes sense. If a person experienced productive coughing which produced green colored mucus (indicative of a bacterial infection,) they would likely schedule an appointment to see their primary medical doctor. This makes sense. If a person injured their back, neck or extremity who do you think they would likely call and schedule an appointment with?
In most cases, they would call their primary medical doctor. Is this the best choice of doctor for this type of problem? A primary medical doctor is limited by education and clinical experience in treating musculoskeletal problems. They can diagnose sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures, but are more limited in differentiating subtle conditions related to the spine, joints (spinal and extremity) and muscles. This is not a criticism, but rather an important identifying limitation of a primary physician’s skills.
ALL TYPES OF DOCTORS HAVE LIMITATIONS.
If a musculoskeletal (back, neck or extremity) injury was suffered, the primary physician would have limited treatment options as well. They could offer pain meds, anti-inflammatory meds and or muscle relaxers. The problem is, none of these medicines FIX the ROOT CAUSE of the problem. They simply attempt to reduce the symptoms? If the CAUSE was based on MECHANICAL dysfunction in the neck, back or extremity, the SOLUTION must also be MECHANICAL. Chiropractors, Orthopedic and Neurological Surgeons are better choices in these situations because they offer expertise in diagnosing and correcting musculoskeletal dysfunction. Chiropractors perform spinal or extremity adjustments that are safe and effective for restoring proper biomechanics and function which prevents or slows down the degenerative process AND in doing so relieves the symptoms by FIXING THE PROBLEM. Orthopedic and Neurological Surgeons perform invasive surgical procedures that require recovery and often follow up therapy to restore function. It is an aggressive approach that is costly in physical pain and financial expense.
Now that you have this background information, can you guess the order that many people follow to address their back, neck and extremity pain issues? They will commonly:
1. Seek a primary medical doctor and pursue a course of pharmaceutical drugs to treat the pain. If the pain dissipates, they consider the problem “cured.” This is similar to using anbesol on a tooth problem. If the pain “goes away,” has the tooth problem been “cured?” This approach is a primary reason most people suffer arthritis and degenerative disc disease (often resulting in disc herniations) as they age. By simply addressing the PAIN instead of the PROBLEM over the years, degeneration finally catches up leading to conditions that greatly diminish one’s quality of life.
2. If the primary doctor’s treatment is unsuccessful, Orthopedic or Neurological Surgeons are commonly the next doctors consulted. There are multiple invasive procedures they can use to try to block nerve pain. Ultimately, they can perform various surgical procedures attempting to stabilize the condition. Commonly scar tissue becomes a complication requiring follow up surgery within a few years. Although these types of physicians address the mechanical problem, the methods used are aggressive and commonly have adverse side effects that may require lifetime pain management. There is also a much higher risk for long term disability using these professionals to address the problems.
3. Chiropractors are frequently a “last ditch effort” to correct the original mechanical problem. There is a lack of awareness of the skills that Chiropractic Physicians possess that has “blinded” the general public from using this approach as a viable option early in the process. They may first be seen several months to years after the injury. Yet, even with this delay and limitations imposed on them by procedures other doctors have provided, Chiropractic Physicians continue to help their patients achieve improved quality and improved function far above their medical colleagues when it comes to musculoskeletal health. How do they achieve this? Chiropractic Physicians approach these problems holistically and incorporate the various components the body needs to heal itself rather than repeatedly “taping the leaks.” Good health requires regular maintenance. The object is NOT to get healthy and then return to a lifestyle that caused the original problems. The object is to modify and constantly refine our approach to our life needs in order to keep our bodies healthy and functioning at optimal levels.
This is the chiropractic difference.
Can you now see the problem the consumer faces when choosing a doctor?
To emphasize and clarify this point, if you experienced pain in the lower abdomen on the right side of the body after eating a big meal would you follow these options in the order listed?
Go to a medical doctor for pain medication. If unsuccessful,
Go to a surgeon for exploratory surgery and possible removal of an organ to relieve the pain. If unsuccessful,
Go to Rite Aide and buy some Pepto Bismol to alleviate the gastric discomfort (or even better, buy some peppermint and ginseng to alleviate the pain.)
I think most of us would agree that common sense would rearrange the order for addressing this condition. The least aggressive approach ( in this case, Pepto Bismol, peppermint or ginseng) should ALWAYS be used first unless a life threatening condition exists or permanent disabilities would result from delay of treatment.
Returning to our back, neck and extremity pain situation, Chiropractic Physicians are licensed doctors trained to diagnose, treat and/or refer for conditions best treated by other specialists or health care providers. They provide the most conservative form of treatment with a high reliability rating that (most importantly) addresses the ROOT CAUSE of the problem and limits further spinal and extremity joint decay IF the patient complies with chiropractic care AND the parameters of self care designed by the Chiropractic Physician for the patient to follow at home. This could help large numbers of people in our population AVOID the need for surgery as well as prescriptions for pain, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxers commonly needed as a result of recurring episodes from never having addressed the underlying CAUSE of the original back, neck or extremity problem.
By starting with the Chiropractic Physician, intervention would occur sooner reducing the cost in pain and finances while maximizing recovery. If pharmaceutical intervention could assist the process, the Chiropractic Physician would consult with the patient’s primary Medical Physician to ensure the best possible outcome. If the patient wasn’t satisfied with this outcome, invasive procedures including surgery would always be a final option.
If you have never scheduled a chiropractic office visit, I would encourage you to do so. While healthy, you can establish a baseline (as is done in any doctor’s office) to help determine what steps (if any) are needed to avoid developing spinal and extremity problems (such as arthritis, disc degeneration, disc herniation and other mechanical problems) or treating existing problems to minimize the damage they can lead to.
Creating a sensible order when making health choices is important. It makes most sense choosing conservative options FIRST. Chiropractic Physicians have effectively and conservatively improved the quality of many lives while saving many people from unnecessary surgery.
If 2016 is the year you decide to begin that new lifestyle to improve your quality of life, why not contact a good qualified Chiropractic Physician to help you through the process. I suggest referrals from people you trust as well as a FREE initial consultation to meet the doctor and make certain you’re comfortable with their experience, results and suggestions. Working with a chiropractic physician to restore and or maintain health is a much better approach and experience than focusing on disease and the ongoing cycle of maintaining chronic ill health (high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, obesity, cholesterol, etc…)