Do you struggle with ordinary daily activities due to pain, muscle or joint stiffness, or lack of flexibility? You’re not alone. We understand how even localized pain can make it difficult to get through your day and sometimes make it impossible to perform even the simplest of tasks. The team at Advanced Spine and Sports Care is here to help.
The Compounding Affects of Pain
It’s not fun when a part of your body hurts. But when that pain keeps you from doing simple things like walking, exercising, being able to sit at your desk at work, being able to play with your kids or grandkids, or to do other things you used to enjoy, that pain transcends the specific area that is hurting.
When a part of our body hurts, we tend to “favor” that area until it heals. For instance, if a tooth on the right side of your jaw hurts, you may chew more on the left side. If your right knee is in pain, you may use only your left leg to lift your weight as you go up the stairs. This is a natural response: favoring an injured area theoretically allows the injured area to heal. The problem is that the body part that is taking up the extra work is then more likely to experience an injury.
Take the example of favoring your right knee as you go up the stairs. That means your left knee is doing almost twice the work. It wouldn’t be surprising if soon that left knee began to hurt, too. In other cases, the process of “favoring” may not be as obvious. If our back hurts, we may change our walking stride to try to accommodate the pain. But, that change may make our hips or back twist unnaturally and soon that slight change in our stride has become a muscle strain in addition to the original pain we were experiencing.
If your back, hips, legs, or feet are in pain, it can keep you from moving around like you normally do. This can potentially lead to weight gain. Weight gain, in turn, can cause further problems, from general deterioration in your health, to increased pressure on your joints. For every pound you gain, your knees have to support four more pounds of pressure. So a ten-pound weight gain means your knees are suddenly taking on 40 extra pounds of pressure. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Sleep is an important biological functions. It gives our bodies time to restore themselves, gives our brains a chance to rest (or at least function differently than they do during the day), and is key is helping our immune system and hormone levels functioning properly. If you have pain – anything from a headache to foot pain – it can keep you awake or keeping you from getting completely restful sleep. And we all know how not getting enough sleep can affect our waking lives: you might be grumpy, not perform as well at work, not have the energy to work out or make healthy meals, and, in the worst case scenario, slip into dangerous behaviors like dozing off at the wheel. Lack of sufficient sleep can lead to depression and other health problems.
In extreme cases, your pain may keep you from working. This is true of people whose careers require that they walk or use their bodies, but it’s also true of people who spend most of the day sitting at a desk. Certain physical ailments can make it incredibly painful to sit or stand or even type or use a computer mouse. If pain is keeping you from working, you may end up experiencing financial problems, on top of everything else. And for many people, financial problems can lead to…
A commercial for a popular anti-depression medication tells us that “depression hurts” – some people who suffer from depression sometimes experience the depression as physical pain. But the reverse can be true, too: constantly being in pain can make us depressed. Feeling pain puts stress on your body, both mentally and physically, both of which can lead to depression over time. But if your pain is limiting your ability to do normal daily activities, you may also experience depression simply because you can’t live your life like you want to.
Maybe you have to stay home when you used to go to a weekly biking group. Maybe you can’t stay with your grandchildren alone anymore because you can’t physically pick them up or care for them properly because of your pain. Maybe you have to work from home because you can’t manage the pain at work. All of these are isolating events and isolation can lead to depression.
In all of these cases, pain, depression, and low self-esteem can become a vicious downward spiral.
Common Types of Pain that Keep People From Performing Daily Activities
While there are plenty of ailments that might fall into this category, here are the ones that we see the most frequently:
• Lower back pain
• Knee joint pain
• Hip joint pain
• Ankle joint pain
• Neck and shoulder stiffness
• Carpal tunnel syndrome, lack of feeling or tingling in hands and fingers
But we have good news for you. These are all symptoms that chiropractic care can treat.
Why Choose Chiropractic Care?
When people are in pain, they often first visit their physician. While many physicians are getting better about counseling their patients to undertake exercise and healthy eating programs to solve many ailments, physicians are still under massive pressure from the pharmaceutical industry to write prescriptions for patients’ pain complaints. In some cases, you may need medication to just get by, if the pain is extreme enough. But the problem is that pain medication doesn’t fix the problem: it simply masks it. Oftentimes, when you stop taking the pain medication, the pain returns.
One of our chiropractic friends likes to say some version of this quippy remark when a patient comes to him with pain: “your pain is not caused by a lack of pain killing medication; it’s being caused by…” some malfunction of your body. For instance, the tingling and pain of carpal tunnel isn’t caused by a lack of pain medication; it is caused by a compression of the nerves that lead to your hand and fingers. So, let’s treat the cause, not the symptom. Let’s try to make sure your nerves aren’t compressed.
If you visit a physician with complaints of pain that returns whenever you stop taking pain medication, the next step may be that your physician suggests surgery. Take for instance our example of carpal tunnel pain: your physician prescribed an anti-inflammatory pain medication like ibuprofen (such as brand name Advil) or naproxen sodium (such as brand name Aleve). It helped while you were taking the medication but soon after you stopped, the pain returned.
You and your doctor both know that part of the problem is that you spend hours sitting at a computer and typing – and you can’t really change that; it’s part of your career. Your physician will likely next suggest surgery. Your carpal tunnel is a hole in your wrist through which nerves and ligaments travel. Sometimes, the ligament becomes too tight and presses on the nerves, causing pain and tingling in your fingers, your hand, and sometimes your arm. Do, a surgeon will cut the ligament to release this pressure. This surgery is minimally invasive, as far as surgery goes, but it’s still surgery.
But in addition to creating a new problem (that ligament in there for a reason!), the fact is that many patients who undergo carpal tunnel surgery find that after they heal, the tingling and pain returns. What gives?
It turns out that carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by the nerves be compressed anywhere along their travels from your spine – not just in your wrist. So the real problem may be that the nerve is being compressed in your neck and shoulder area. This is especially true for people who spend a lot of time sitting and looking at a computer screen. Those tight shoulders aren’t the only problem: they are actually causing your carpal tunnel syndrome.
This is a great example of why we love chiropractic care. Before you take a medication which may have side affects and before you “go under the knife,” wouldn’t it be better to try non-invasive and natural techniques to treat your pain? Granted, in some cases, chiropractic care can’t fix the underlying problem and in those situations you may need to seek out medication and, in the worst case, surgery.
But oftentimes, chiropractic care can offer enough relief that you can get back to regular daily activities and slowly increase your healing work. In other cases, chiropractic care can boost the effectiveness of physician-prescribed pain medications. The pain medication can make it possible for you to begin operating normally and, meanwhile, your chiropractor and you can work on treating the underlying condition.
Our basic message is this: if you are suffering from any level of pain that is impacting the way you live your life and your ability to carry out your normal daily activities, we would love to opportunity to help you guide your body to heal itself. Call us today at 773-451-9739 to schedule an appointment with one of our chiropractors and start your journey back to health.