Chiropractic and Chronic Pain
Everyone feels pain from time to time and it’s a normal part of the injury process since pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. In a normal healing process, however, once the injury heals, you stop hurting.
This is where chronic pain is different. Even after the healing process is completed, your body keeps hurting for weeks, months, or even years after the injury. Pain is considered chronic when it lasts for three months or more.
Living with pain can have serious negative effects on your daily life and your mental health. Fortunately, there are ways to treat it.
How Does Pain Become Chronic?
Pain is a signal that travels from the injured part of your body to your brain through your nervous system. Your brain processes the signal and sends out the message that you hurt. Usually, that signal stops when the cause of the pain is resolved — your body heals and moves on. However, with chronic pain, the nerve signals keep firing even after the painful stimulus is gone and you’ve healed.
Chronic pain is multi-faceted and it is sometimes challenging to identify the culprit.
Chronic Low back pain
About 20 percent of people affected by acute low back pain develop chronic low back pain with persistent symptoms after one year. Chiropractors focus on mechanical issues of the spine and pelvis which can affect surrounding nerves or muscles causing pain. Chronicity can also be made worse by underlying conditions such as osteoarthritis, stenosis or inflammatory issues related to the spine.
Chiropractors work with their patients to develop a plan focusing on musculoskeletal complaints as well as retraining the body to move more optimally and therefore preventing pain. This may include chiropractic adjustments, lifestyle advice, stretching and strengthening exercises or other therapies. Conservative care, such as chiropractic care, is often beneficial in reducing the pain associated with both acute and chronic pain.
Low back pain has reached epidemic proportions in Canada. 85% of working Canadians will experience low back pain in their lifetimes. The estimated cost of our healthcare system is 6-12 billion dollars annually. With the opioid crisis, there has been a shift from pharmacology treatment to non-invasive care such as chiropractic care. The specialized care provided by chiropractors has been shown effective in pain reduction, improving activities of daily living, and reducing the chances of low back pain becoming a chronic condition.
Headaches can be another source of chronic pain for many people. While headaches are common, they are not normal. There are numerous factors which can lead to the development of headaches; chiropractors focus their treatment on pain referral from the cervical spine, surrounding nerves and joints. With more people working from home, which often means increased time sitting in less-than-ideal ergonomic positions, tension headaches seem to be becoming more prevalent in the general population.
The good news is that there is help available for many. In 2012, Annals of Internal Medicine published “Spinal Manipulation, Medication, or Home Exercise With Advice for Acute and Subacute Neck Pain” which showed that patients receiving chiropractic care in conjunction with at-home exercises were twice as likely to become pain-free than those receiving medication alone. This shows that working on the cause of the headaches is important and more beneficial than treating the symptoms alone.
Working on the cause
So what can you do? Be proactive with your health. Do not wait. Listen to your body and take care of issues as they arise, don’t let them become a chronic and lifelong battle. Playing an active role in your health by exercising regularly, eating well, managing stress and being consistent with your self-care can go a long way in living a healthier life.
A major treatment for chronic pain is retraining your brain to better process signals. We can help you relearn how to move in a healthy and pain-free way.
Book an appointment for an initial assessment with one of our Chiropractors by contacting our CURAVITA Byward Clinic at 613-860-8600 or the CURAVITA Glebe Clinic at 613-237-9000 to find out how a musculoskeletal health specialist can help you.