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Dr. Arnan Sisson, PT/ July 25, 2022
Are you struggling with nagging pain or an injury that just won’t seem to heal? Have you been told that pain and injuries are just a part of being getting older?
Have you tried multiple solutions, like massage, traditional PT, chiropractic, medication, or injections and aren’t seeing the results that you want?
Although this is common, it is NOT normal. We hear things like this all of the time from new patients walking through our door. I am here to tell you today that it doesn’t have to be like that.
You can, and you should, feel confident, strong, and amazing in your body. You should feel like you can work out as hard as you want, and as often as you want without feeling like your body is holding you back or fear of injury.
So, why does this happen in the first place? Why do many solutions end up being a band-aid, and don’t last?
We find that the biggest reason is because people treat the symptoms of their problem, not the cause! If you treat the symptoms, you will feel good for a bit, but your symptoms will come back. It’s not your fault though, our medical system is set up this way.
You see, most folks who are in pain will give it one or two weeks to see if it goes away on its own, and when it doesn’t, you go see your primary care physician or an orthopedic specialist. Depending on who you see, one of the following will happen:
The problem with the imaging route is that even normal signs of aging show up, things like disk bulges, “arthritis”, minor tears, and more.
These all sound like big, scary problems, but they are actually NORMAL findings, even on people who are professional athletes WITHOUT pain. Research shows that imaging findings have a poor correlation to pain. So, when your provider uses the findings of your imaging to treat your problem, they start treating something normal, instead of the cause of your pain, so you don’t see the progress that you want.
The problem with the anti-inflammatory route is that, first, inflammation is a part of the healing process, and can be good.
Secondly, pain does not mean that there is inflammation present, or that inflammation is the cause of your pain. You see, pain is like the check engine light of your body. When your check engine light comes on, it doesn’t mean that you need a new engine! A sensor might just be off, or some other minor problem.
The same thing is true about pain. Pain doesn’t mean that you have inflammation, or that you tore anything, or that you are damaged. Pain is just a signal from your body telling you that it doesn’t feel safe. This could be because you are moving poorly, or that one body part is taking on too much stress. But, anti-inflammatories will not fix a movement or a stress problem, so you still won’t see the results that you want.
The problem with the generic stretches and exercise sheet is that they only focus on the body part that hurts, and they are not customized to you.
One example of this is a patient I had who loved long walks with their spouse at Westmoreland State Park, but had knee pain the whole time. Her primary care physician gave her a sheet of knee exercises to do, but she never got better. Why? Because it wasn’t her knee that was the problem!
Her ankle didn’t move well, and her hips had trouble stabilizing her, which led to her knee taking on a lot more stress than it was used to. She stopped doing the knee exercises, and started working on her ankle and hip. She is now back to doing those long walks again, and has even improved her distances she’s doing with her husband.
The problem with the practitioner telling you to stop doing what hurts, is sometimes that isn’t possible, or isn’t what YOU want.
I had a patient who came in, who was told to never lift more than 35 pounds or else she was at risk of damaging her back. This person owns a farm, has a 70 pound dog that she has to get into a bathtub a couple times a week. She also has to lift like 50 pound hay bales. So, she’s lifting because she has to.
Maybe you keep doing the activity that flares you up because you have to, or maybe to keep doing it because you love to workout for your mental health. Either way, a provider should listen to your needs and wants, and come up with a plan to help you get what you want!
Turns out her hip was the problem, not her back. Her back moved great. She felt pain in her back because her hips didn’t move well. It’s kind of like if your car develops a shimmy and you feel it in a steering wheel. The steering wheel isn’t the problem, the alignment is the problem. It might be one of the tires is out of balance, or one of the weights on the wheels fell off, or it could be a bushing somewhere else. That’s how the body works too, sometimes you feel the symptom in one place, but the problem is somewhere else. That’s what we specialize in, looking at the whole body.
Looking at the whole body, and the whole picture (sleep habits, stress levels, diet, exercise routine, etc.), is how to find the true cause of the issue, and get long lasting results. We do this in our 30 minute Free Discovery visit, where we discuss your problems, goals, and perform a movement test on you. During that visit, we will tell you the cause of your problem, and develop a plan with you to help you reach your goals and get you long lasting results.