The Cost of Waiting

Abraham Lincoln once said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” The same is true for addressing your health concerns. Several times each day I have patients come in who tell me they have been hurting for days, weeks, months, or even years. The story is usually that they just thought it would get better on its own but it never did. Inevitably, they express their remorse at waiting to come in.

The truth is that with any injury, the body starts the healing process immediately. The concern is whether you will heal correctly. The body will compensate in whichever way it can to stabilize. If muscles are tight or ligaments are overstretched, it will alter the proper movement of joints. Such improper movement causes the nervous system to become confused and ultimately desensitized. Consequently, the body will lay down scar tissue that will promote the new and improper movement patterns which leaves the body susceptible to reinjury or to injury of surrounding tissue.

As a chiropractor, if I can help move the joints in a proper manner before inflammation and scar tissue sets in, then the healing process is a much easier ordeal. If you wait until scar tissue repair has set in when you come in to see me, the first step will be for me to tear down most of that process so the healing can start over. As with remodeling kitchens, the demolition can be ugly. The old adage of getting worse before it gets better is often in play and can lead to a few days of discomfort.

Another caveat to waiting is establishing movement patterns that can be difficult to retrain. Old habits are harder to change than simply making new ones in a fresh environment. Chronic conditions can take years to correct for this very reason. Muscles and joints have memory locked in to the nervous system. In my experience, it typically takes around three months of consistent treatment to change that memory.

Finally, with altered movement, the the body will degenerate quicker. At a joint level that means that tissues will dry up and bone spurs will form. Once a bone spur has formed, everything changes. No amount of adjusting, taking supplements, acupuncture, or whatever is going to remove that. Tissues can be rehydrated but they are never as good as they used to be. This is mortality. However, we can help slow down the degenerative process. At the end of the day, if we just improve the function it is worth it.

All conditions will change over time. The body will strive to compensate but that compensation can lead to issues down the road. If you have an injury or if dysfunction has been brewing for too long, get in! Better yet, come consistently and do your best to maintain good health and function.


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“Nothing Helps My Mid Back Pain!”

At least once a week I get a person in here who presents with mid back pain that is dull and achy but can go really sharp. It is a stabbing pain that feels like a knife going right through to the front. Taking a deep breath is difficult and forget about sneezing, coughing or laughing. Often times they feel like they are having a heart attack because of the tightness, the altered breathing and because it can even refer pain into the arm.

That, my friends, is a rib subluxation. The worst part about it, besides the unbearable pain, is that unless you address the concern directly, it can linger for a long time and go chronic. It is also something that doctors, including chiropractors, don’t always look at and don’t always know how to handle.

Luckily for me (insert tongue into cheek), I have a rib that subluxates quite often and have had it since I was 20. It was the cause of of miserable pain and some nasty heart burn (another topic of conversation that we can address later). When I finally found a chiropractor who figured out that it was, in fact, a rib and not my neck or a thoracic vertebra that had subluxated, then adjusted it properly, it was heaven. Since then, I make sure to educate my patients that have a history of rib subluxtions to let me know if it is acting up before I get too far into adjusting the spine. Otherwise, we can keep adjusting and never quite see full improvement.