Chiropractic can be an effective treatment option for many types of musculoskeletal pain. Musculoskeletal pain means pain coming from a muscle, nerve, or joint problem. But not all pain is musculoskeletal and in the cases when it is not chiropractic would not be the best form of treatment. As a chiropractor, when a patient comes into my office this is typically the first question that must be answered: is this patient's problem something that I can help them with or should I be referring them to a different type of provider? In order to answer this question, we rely on our training, knowing what questions to ask and what tests to perform. But let's say you are someone who struggles with pain or problem and you're having trouble deciding what type of treatment you will seek. Are there things to look for that could make you more confident that chiropractic could help with your problem before you schedule your first appointment? Here are 4 such things.
1. Can you touch your pain? A great indicator that your pain is musculoskeletal in nature is whether you can affect it with touch. Muscles that are inflamed or strained can be swollen and sore to the touch.
Massage of the area may temporarily alleviate or reduce the pain that you feel. Alternatively, the area may be very tender and be worse with touch or pressure. In either case, the fact that your pain or problem is effected by touch is a strong indicator that it is musculoskeletal and could be improved with chiropractic. A chiropractic exam relies heavily on palpation (diagnostic touch), for just this reason. Pain that cannot be affected by touch could be originating from deeper in the body, such as within bones or organs.
2. Is your pain changed with movement?
Muscles and joints are made to move, but when they have a problem moving may become painful. Oftentimes musculoskeletal pain is made worse with a particular movement. It may be low back pain that is worse when bending forward, hip pain aggravated with flexion, or neck pain felt when turning. All of these are common examples of musculoskeletal pain and are commonly treated with chiropractic. Chiropractic examinations take note of painful motions and then seek to find the underlying cause that made that motion become painful. These underlying causes could include restricted joints, overworked or underdeveloped muscles, or instability within the body. Pain that is not musculoskeletal in nature is typically less affected by movement and is more likely to be consistent.
3. Does your pain change with activity? Most forms of musculoskeletal pain have activities that will aggravate them. It could be prolonged sitting, like an 8-hour shift at a desk, or shoulder pain that's worse after a round of golf. Different activities will stress different structures in the body, and if these structures are the source of your pain then your pain will likely get worse.
During your first visit with a chiropractor, you will be asked about aggravating actions or activities that aggravate your pain. These questions help narrow down the source of your pain or problem and can help your provider establish any needed recommendations to changes in your daily routine.
4. Do you have good days and bad days? For many types of musculoskeletal pain and especially chronic musculoskeletal pain, it will be worse some days more than others. This is because we use our muscles and joints differently from day to day. You may not realize that your low back pain is being aggravated by your daily drive to work, but you may notice that your back feels pretty good Monday morning after not driving over the weekend. Similarly, someone who unknowingly suffers from plantar fasciitis may not draw the connection between which footwear they choose to wear and how much foot pain they experience in a given day, but they would make the comment that some days their foot pain is worse than others. Pain that is originating from more malignant sources will typically get consistently worse over time.
These are 4 good indicators of whether pain is musculoskeletal, and therefore more likely to respond to conservative care such as chiropractic. As always the best way to know for sure is to have your symptoms examined by a medical professional, but this information should give you a better idea as to where to start in your search for a solution. If in answering these questions about your pain or problem you found yourself saying "yes" then your pain is likely musculoskeletal and could be treated effectively with chiropractic. If the answers were in the negative, you may want to start with a visit to your primary care to see if your problem could benefit from conservative care.
If after reading this you believe your problem is musculoskeletal and you're ready to get rid of it then why not visit our website at cumberlandspine.com. You can learn more about our office and schedule an appointment with one of our providers who will examine your problem and come up with a plan to help you with your problem.