Why Do People Develop Chronic Pain?
Injuries, posture, nutrition and body mechanics have a big impact on chronic pain, especially if they are not treated or corrected early. An injury, especially in the spine, can cause an alignment problem. In many cases, the misalignment can be relatively subtle, but it changes the way the patient stands, sits, and moves. Soft tissue injuries can also result in chronic pain and some diseases, like diabetes, can cause nerve damage.
How Does Pain Affect the Musculoskeletal System?
When people hurt, they develop habits to reduce the pain. For example, joint pain may cause the patient to avoid full extension or flexion (straightening and bending) the affected joint. Eventually, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments become tight and begin to shorten, which decreases flexibility in the joint and makes the problem worse. Muscles may also become unbalanced (muscles work in pairs), which contributes to gait or functional problems. Nerves may also become hyper-reactive, so even a light touch is painful.
Does Chronic Pain Cause Other Health Problems?
Since most people with chronic pain reduce their activity levels, strength, stamina, and heart fitness all suffer. Pain can also cause sleep disturbances and generalized fatigue. Mood changes – which can be made worse by sleep deprivation – can result in anxiety, irritability, and depression. Appetite changes (both over eating and under eating) occur in many patients. Lower activity levels and the use of some medications may result in constipation.
How Can Chiropractic Help?
In most cases, chronic pain has a musculoskeletal component. Even if a patient has an abdominal problem, changes in posture to guard the abdominal area may result in alignment problems or muscle tension. The spine and skeletal system affects the Nervous System. Chiropractic helps by addressing the alignment problem and improving nervous system function, which allows normal body movement. Other chiropractic therapies, like nutritional counseling, can also improve overall health and promote wellness.
Acute care is the treatment that your chiropractor will perform when you are experiencing musculoskeletal pain, whether from a specific injury, or even if the pain is idiopathic (of unknown origin) in nature. The goal of acute care is to relieve your pain, reduce any inflammation that is contributing to your pain, and restore normal range of motion to the affected joint. Depending upon the severity of your injury / condition, this stage of care can be as little as one or two treatments, or can involve as many as several treatments per week for several weeks, along with instructions for home care that will aid in speeding the healing process along, thus reducing the overall time frame required to restore you to health.
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