Chiropractic and Persistent Pain
Pain is an useful catastrophe messaging system for the body. It is a message that something isn’t right, at a volume that cannot be easily discounted. It exists to protect the body, supporting protective action to prevent further injury. The network that carries these messages is the nervous system, to the brain, and then from the peripheral nerves to the spine. While pain is an useful tool to keep us healthy and to minimize injuries, it can also get out of control and continue after its purpose was served. Chiropractic treatment is useful in reducing or eliminating many sorts of pain, and may be effective with continual pain. It’s important to delve a bit deeper into the subject of pain, before we analyze how pain is treated by chiropractors.
Chronic vs. Acute Pain
Severe pain occurs suddenly, in response to an injury or unhealthy change in physical function. Chronic pain is pain which will have started suddenly, but remains long after. Many accidents and disease processes, for example, result in pain that lingers long after case triggered it. Chronic pain is a complex entity, as the longer we feel a special pain, the more brains and our bodies alter to suit it. It is as if persistent pain creates grooves in brain function that complicate efforts to reduce or stop it. Continual pain, sometimes, can become a custom, one that is very hard to break.
Sources of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can arise from many sources. Common sources include injuries that don’t completely heal, long term disease procedures and harms to the nervous system. Additionally, there are types of continual pain that is psychogenic, such as phantom leg syndrome, that work through a different mechanism than classic continual pain but are troublesome and even debilitating for many individuals.
Theories of Pain Perception
Pain is a somewhat mysterious encounter, not well understood by science. Pain can be overpowering and intense, and yet it may also be modified by opiates, hypnosis, sugar pills (placebo effect) and meditation. It may also be altered by physical therapies for example massage, acupuncture and chiropractic.
While we may inquire why pain is crucial, there are documented instances of people dying of organ failure, a burst appendix and enormous internal diseases, all because they didn’t feel pain and thus didn’t seek treatment in time. Though disagreeable, pain is not fairly useless, most of the time.
There are several competing theories to describe just how pain is perceived by the brain, but most concur on the same fundamentals. There are three basic elements to the perception of pain: the sensory effect, which includes the electro-chemical perception of pain by the brain; the emotional effect, which is our immediate response to pain; and the sensory-emotional effects of continual pain. Each one of these elements relates to an alternate part of the brain, and this gives some clues into the mechanics of various pain mediation techniques. Meditation, hypnosis and placebo effects, for example, work primarily on the mental component. That is, those using these therapies will sometimes report the pain is “still there,” but appears less disagreeable or uncomfortable. Manual techniques, including massage, acupuncture and chiropractic, work on the sensory component, interrupting or mediating the pain signals before they get to the mind.
Traditional (Palmer) Chiropractic theory brings an unique outlook to both the perception and cause of pain. While physical harm or organ dysfunction may be the first source of pain, nothing in the body occurs without involvement of the spinal column. Any impact to the body sufficient to cause more than a slight harm the back particularly, and will affect the skeletal structure in general. Similarly, organic ailment or failure causes muscle responses. These muscles, anchored in the skeleton’s bones affect the spinal column too. Nerve impulses blocked or impeded at the spinal roots due to subluxation will lead along the nerve pathways to continual pain and dysfunction.
Chiropractic’s Function in Chronic Pain Management
Chiropractic is especially effective in the treatment of long-term pain that results from nervous system irritation, harm or damage due to its action on the nerve roots. Also, chiropractic is effective in reestablishing normal function of joints, muscles and the vascular system, helping to remove the root causes of persistent pain.
Doctors of chiropractic are also trained in numerous other therapies that are useful in the treatment of chronic pain. These include massage and trigger point treatment. Chiropractors are also trained in the usage of nutritional supplements, and may prescribe a regimen of vitamins, minerals and other supplements to strengthen the overall treatment.
Trigger point therapy, in particular, is frequently quite helpful in mediating pain. Many chiropractors use trigger point treatment in their own practices.
Taken collectively, associated therapies and chiropractic are one of the best treatments for pain. Chiropractic offers the added advantage of a low risk profile, with no drug side effects. Chronic pain sufferers, regardless of the source, may find chiropractic merely the appropriate treatment for pain management that is long term, and maybe even the removal of pain.