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It's rarely "just one thing"

My back hurts but it’s just muscle so I don’t think a chiropractor can help me.

So many times I have the discussion with a patient that their injury is “not just one thing”.

First, it is important to know that chiropractors do not just “crack backs”.  We are primary care physicians and musculoskeletal experts.  We do manual therapy on muscles and joints and other types of tissue (nerves, ligaments, fascia to name a few) so, actually, yes I can help you.

Second, it’s rarely “just any one thing”.  Muscles attach to bones and influence joints.  Joint damage, inflammation, and injury can potentially interfere with proper nerve flow, which in turn affects all tissue: muscle, joints, skin, organs, etc.

Sometimes the problem is relatively simple.

For example, a patient plays a sport and “pulls” a hamstring.  This is a great example when it probably is as close to “just being one thing” as it will ever get. And, yet, the bigger question is “why” did the hamstring strain?  Is there a restricted pelvic joint that didn’t allow the hamstring to properly function?  Is the ankle restricted placing extra stress on the thigh and hip?  These are the clinical questions I ask myself even when “just one thing” walks into the office.  In this case, the relatively simple solution is to treat the hamstring muscle problem with soft tissue techniques, cold laser therapy, and stretch & strengthen techniques to rehabilitate the injury.

Getting the Full Story is Important

When the problem is more complex as evidenced by failure to respond to treatment, is becoming chronic, or recurs over and over, it becomes extremely important to be accurate with the diagnosis and to understand the biomechanical nature of the injury, including its origin story – or as close as we can get to an origin story.  Often it takes a few visits for the picture to become clear.  And, it definitely requires an investigation that looks beyond “just one thing”.

As always, my pledge is to do my very best at arriving as close to the origin story of an injury/ache/pain as I possibly can, and then designing a treatment strategy that aims to correct ‘all the things’ that need correction.

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