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Chronic Pain: What to do when your pain just won’t go away

| Dr David Palmer |

Have you ever had chronic pain? Pain that just won’t go away. You thought you had treated it successfully only for it to return?

We actually see this quite a lot in practice. While there are a number of causes for chronic pain, it could be because the goal of treatment was to relieve the pain and not to correct the cause of the pain.

At Align Corrective Chiropractic one of our big goals is to give our patients a long-term solution for their chronic pain. This is why we focus on Corrective Chiropractic Care.

We find that many of our patients’ on-going problems are due to the shape and alignment of their spinal structures. Their spines may have become misaligned due to various traumas. Car accidents, whiplash, sports injuries, slips and falls are very common physical traumas for many of our patients. For others it’s the repetitive day-to-day trauma of sitting at a desk, sleeping in awkward positions or bad postural habits that create the underlying problem. These factors increase strain on the spine, which leads to weakness and eventually dysfunction.  It’s often only at this point that the patient notices a problem – pain. Some people will live with this pain unnecessarily for years before doing something about it.

The difference between Corrective Care and Relief Care for Chronic Pain

Many of our patients initially book a consult with us because of pain. Pain that is preventing them from living the life they want to live. They have had enough of it, and they just want to feel better.

Relief care is focused on relieving this pain, which is very often a short-term approach. We call this the “Quick Fix”.

Imagine you wake up with a headache, so you take a painkiller, or go for treatment, or use an ice pack, and it helps. You feel great afterwards.

If your goal is purely relief from the headache, then you have achieved your goal. But what if you wake up the next morning with another headache, and then the next day and so on? What if you continue to have chronic, debilitating headaches?
How long do you keep taking painkillers for, before you look for the cause of the headaches?

In this example the “Quick Fixes” are not actually fixing the problem but they are offering short term relief. Many people stop at this point of relief and get stuck in a cycle of trying all sorts of different treatments when the pain returns, only to relieve the pain temporarily, but never really addressing the cause.

From a Corrective perspective we want to take it a step further and determine why you are waking up with headaches.

Neck problems are often the underlying cause of headaches, so we would begin with assessing your spine. Through various tests, posture assessments and spinal X-rays we may discover that your upper neck is misaligned and that you have lost the ideal neck curve. This is creating strain and tension at the top of your neck and base of the skull, which is being aggravated by your sleeping posture and flat pillow and causing you to wake up with a headache.

Now that we know what is causing your problem, we can focus on correcting it.

How do we fix it?

Firstly, we would want to reduce the strain and tension in your neck and reduce those headaches. We would also want to address your lifestyle choices and sleeping habits that may be aggravating the problem. However, the real long-term benefits come when we focus on the underlying cause – changing the shape of your neck.

Durban Chiro - Chronic Pain
In the above example, the first X-ray is what the ideal curve of the neck should look like (green curve). The second picture is an X-ray of one of our patients with long-term headaches. Notice how the curve of their neck is reversing. A Corrective program would focus on changing the shape and alignment of this spine, back to the ideal.

Below are two Before and After Neck X-rays of our patients following a short Corrective Chiropractic Program.

Chiropractor Durban - Chronic Pain
Both these patients had a reversal of their ideal neck curve causing significant problems. The BEFORE X-ray was taken at their first visit. The AFTER X-ray was taken after a 12-week Corrective program. You can clearly see the amazing structural changes we were able to make in a short time frame.

We often find that as a patient’s spinal alignment improves, so does their pain, but not only their pain. Many of our patient’s start to feel more energetic, sleep better, move better, their posture improves and they notice an overall improvement in their quality of life.

That is one of our major goals at Align Corrective Chiropractic. To help our patients improve their quality of lives. If you have chronic pain or feel like your quality of life could be better without the current pain you are experiencing, then please give us a call on 031 5629180 or email us at reception@alignchiropractic.co.za