Living with constant pain can drastically change your quality of life. Many patients undergo surgeries and take various medications to help them find pain relief so they can continue doing everyday tasks. Simple things, when living with pain, can become exhausting or unbearable.
The most common injuries that are treated via pain management include neck and back pain, knee pain, and hip pain. Although medications are very common for pain relief, a more natural option that targets the cause of your pain can be more beneficial and healthier for you.
Chiropractic pain management differs greatly from the use of medications, but how does chiropractic pain management work and how would this be a better alternative to medications? First, we need to find out how medications work and how chiropractic pain management works before diving into what makes chiropractic pain management such a unique alternative.
How do Medications for Pain Management Work?
There are over-the-counter and prescription medications available to help patients living with pain to feel relief; however, medications could lead to many other symptoms. Keep in mind medications exist to help the consumer feel comfortable and do not fix the cause of the pain.
Medications might be needed for quick relief but should not be relied on or taken consistently as the primary option of “fixing” the pain you experience.
The reason why pain medications are not ideal for long term use is because of their side effects and can do more harm than good, including permanent damage. Relying heavily on medication can allow the person to overlook the larger problem causing the symptoms as well. Symptoms are our body’s way of telling us something is wrong within our body and should not be ignored.
NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are some of the most common forms of over-the-counter medications for relieving pain (this includes aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen). The risks that come with using NSAIDs can be serious and possibly life-threatening.
Each year, NSAIDs side effects hospitalize over 100,000 people and kill 16,500 in the United States (this is mostly due to bleeding stomach ulcers). To get a better idea of the percentage of those who are hospitalized or pass from their side effects, it is important to know how many take NSAIDs.
Every day, more than 30 million Americans take NSAIDs for their pain, and while medical professionals exercise the risks of taking NSAIDs, it is said by others that chronic pain is already horrible to live with.
The most common over-the-counter NSAIDs include aspirin (Bayer, Ecotrin, St. Joseph), ibuprofen (Advil, Mortin IB, Nuprin), ketoprofen (Actron, Ordus KT), and naproxen sodium (Aleve). NSAIDs available by prescription include Daypro, Indocin, Lodine, Naprosyn, Relafen, and Voltaren.
These medications work by blocking the effects of chemicals that increase the feeling of pain and can help by reducing inflammation; however, NSAIDs affect more than just the part of the body that is in pain, they can affect your entire body.
These changes your body undergoes while taking NSAIDs will affect the way the body works and could limit its ability to function properly – this can cause you complications down the road.
While medications do work in providing relief, the side effects can be dangerous, and they will only work to help you “ignore” or “mask” your symptoms rather than addressing the cause; this is where chiropractic pain management becomes a great alternative.
How Does Chiropractic Pain Management Work?
Chiropractic pain management targets the cause of your symptoms. Upper cervical chiropractors study the link between your brain stem and the body and understand the consequences to having an upper cervical misalignment.
An upper cervical misalignment occurs when one of your top two bones of the spine, located just under the base of the skull in the neck area, fall out of alignment. Located within these top two bones in your brain stem, the main link of your brain to body communication.
When one or both bones are misaligned, they will shift over and cause pressure on your brain stem, distorting the communication and therefore making errors in signals your body sends and receives.
Earlier, we went over how medications worked: by masking your symptoms and causing a false sense of comfort by manipulating how the body distinguishes pain. The pain is caused by inflammation, which is why anti-inflammatory drugs are usually preferred.
When inflammation occurs, the chemicals from your body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or the affected tissues to protect your body. It is this release of chemicals that will increase your blood flow to the area of injury or infection which can result in redness and warmth. For the body to repair or heal itself from injury or infection, it needs proper communication between the brain and body.
When the brain stem is compressed from misalignment and the communication becomes distorted or misinterpreted, it can cause many issues to occur in the body – including causing damage to itself.
Having a miscommunication can lead to high blood pressure, weakened muscles and tissues, inflammation or irritation of the nerves, and affect automatic functions (breathing, swallowing, digestion, balance, etc.); this is the reason why upper cervical chiropractic pain management is important for the body’s health. Realigning the top two bones will help return your body to function normally due to the proper communication and signals sent between the brain and body.
Patients can see an improvement as soon as their very first adjustment. As soon as the pressure and stress are taken off the brain stem, the body can go back to work quickly and begin the repair and healing process.
Chiropractic pain management uses the body’s natural ability to find and correct the cause of your pain. Depending on the severity of the misalignment, more adjustments are needed to help improve the body’s ability to hold the alignment.
Upper cervical chiropractic pain management can be beneficial to patients who have hip and knee pain as well. Your spine follows your top two upper cervical bones, the Atlas, and the Axis. When you have an upper cervical misalignment, the head will tilt and the rest of the spine will begin to change itself by twisting, turning, shifting, or curving to make the level head again. During this changing process to keep the head level, the spine can cause one hip to become higher than the other and one leg to appear shorter than the other.
These changes will put stress on the parts of your body affected and can cause pain or discomfort. Returning the top two bones to proper alignment will encourage the rest of the spine to change with it and straighten out normally. Because of this, patients who undergo upper cervical chiropractic pain management will often wake up feeling sore and should drink plenty of water while their body heals and repairs.
As time goes on, patients who have upper cervical chiropractic pain management adjustments will need them less, or not at all, due to their muscles and tissues around the upper cervical area strengthening and being repaired causing their alignment to hold for longer periods of time. If you have pain or discomfort and are considering chiropractic pain management, upper cervical provides a unique way for you to find relief and help fix the underlying cause of your pain.