A patient came in (limping) this morning after a month of moderate to severe lower back and leg/hip pain. She told a story about seeing her medical doctor who gave her medication, then referred her to a physical therapist. The patient saw the physical therapist who recommended and supervised a series of exercises. Her pain is about the same after a couple of weeks of that. (The medication knocks her out at night, so she sleeps, but she is groggy all morning after, doesn’t feel rested, and can’t fully function… so she stopped that.)
The answer is simple. First off, health care providers look for what they can “treat”. And they treat with whatever they treat with. (Put another way, we sell what we sell and when we decide we can help, we do it by doing what we do.)
Medical doctors prescribe medications for back pain, they may also recommend physical therapy (and some now recommend chiropractic care). They expect that to do it AS IT RELATES TO “BACK PAIN”. The PAIN is the patient’s problem (in the patient’s mind and in the medical doctor’s mind). If the pain doesn’t go away, the medical doctor will (1) increase the strength of the medication, and/or (2) combine medications, and or refer to a “spine specialist” who will examine and recommend, usually (first) and injection, and then, eventually, surgery. That’s just what you get when you go that route, ask anybody who knows anything about it.
But why didn’t that work?
(In this case, “work” means relieve the pain.)
In this patient’s case, as in most every other case where the usual medical approach fails and chiropractic care works, it didn’t work because the patient was subluxated (it’s “alternative” remember?). Spinal subluxations are characterized by 5 things: 1) joints not moving right (they are usually not moving enough – i.e., restricted), 2) abnormal reflexes from those same joints, 3) altered muscle function in the muscles served by the abnormal reflexes coming from those same joints , 4) altered motion/alignment involving nearby and related joints, and 5) inflammatory reactions in the abnormal stressed tissues surrounding and related to those same joints.
Let’s keep this really simple: When joints are not moving, they have to be freed up to move normally or whatever dysfunction caused will persist. Medication isn’t targeting joint restrictions – it’s targeting an effect: inflammation and pain. Exercises don’t usually target joint restrictions (well our first 6 do, but that’s a different story), and if the exercising doesn’t somehow result in the restricted joints becoming unrestricted, the inflammation (and pain) will be increased (a common occurrence).
It didn’t work because the cause was (and often is) miss-diagnosed
When a patient tells a medical doctor that they have low back pain, and the doctor says it back to them in Latin, that doesn’t help much. Not really. (In the world of back pain diagnosis is universally understood to be meaningless as it relates to effective treatment – but don’t take my word for that, talk to a bunch of researchers. The doctor is hoping that the medication takes away the pain. If it does, the patient is happy and so is the doctor; both think that they have done their job.)
The patient was subluxated; the medical doctor doesn’t know how to look for that, isn’t used to thinking such a thing exists, and doesn’t have a cure for it anyway: so, in their mind, it doesn’t exist.
It didn’t work because exercise and medication doesn’t (always, sometimes it does) remove joint restrictions.
I adjusted a half a dozen joints that were subluxated. She got up feeling better, and left without limping. (She will use ice now instead of heat – think inflammation.) I will see her again on Friday. Chiropractic doctors are trained to look for and correct spinal subluxations which are very often the cause of back pain, neck pain, headaches, and other conditions. See a Chiropractic doctor to find out if you need chiropractic care. They are the only one who would know that! (And if you don’t think that you can trust them, then go somewhere else and see someone who you can trust.)