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When Should I Get Treatment?

The dilemma of when to seek out treatment for an injury, pain or limitation in function is much debated subject.  To shed some light on the matter, I’ll first share some common practice and then lay out my ideal scenario.

Seeking Treatment for Pain

Commonly, people seek out treatment when they’re in pain.  Knowing you have an injury prior to having pain is uncommon.  Pain is the body’s alarm system that something ain’t right.  But, the more in tune you are with your body, the more you can pick up on dysfunction and injury prior to the development of pain.  Pain and the development of an injury can occur at the same time, but it is more common to have dysfunction first that eventually leads to pain.  So, often, the moment you feel pain is well after the body has already become injured.  The objective with treatment is typically to first reduce pain and then to proceed to improving function.

More commonly, people seek out treatment after being in pain for certain period of time.  They may have hoped the pain would go away on its own or that the pain itself was not indicative of anything to be concerned about.  Ideally, I don’t recommend following this protocol.  The longer you’re in pain, the longer you’re suffering and the more the body is compensating for the tissue dysfunction that is causing the pain.  The pain may, in fact, go away without treatment.  You may even feel vindicated that you got through your problem without needing treatment.  However, pain comes and goes.  It’s only an alarm system; it is not the actual problem.  So, when pain goes away on it’s own, you’re likely still left with some tissue dysfunction.  This is why problems tend to become chronic or recurrent if untreated properly.

Ideally you would seek out treatment whenever the body is not performing at the levels you require or want, regardless of pain.  I explain to my patients (from time to time) that I don’t care about “pain” when I’m treating the body; I focus more on improving the function of the tissue that I’m working with.

Maintenance care VS Life Care

The idea of treating the body whenever it is sub-par (regardless of pain) brings up the concept of “maintenance” treatment.  Sometimes patients in pain with various types of tissue dysfunction tell me that they need “maintenance”.  Kindly, I will point out that they are not at the “maintenance” stage yet.  First comes pain relief.  Then comes tissue function improvement – a combination of treatment and training (think rehab exercises). After that comes “maintenance”.  But, maintenance is not what you may think.  Maintenance does not imply that without treatment you will regress back into dysfunction and/or pain. Maintenance, in my books, means you become in tune with your body so you know when dysfunction is creeping back in; When it does, come nip it in the bud before it becomes worse.  Those who think this way like to refer to maintenance more as “Life Care” rather than some formulaic treatment plan.  Our world causes havoc in our bodies.  When it does, get it treated or suffer the consequences down the road.

Stiff spinal joints, tension in your movement, weak muscles, etc. are all tissue problems that need addressing.  They will all lead to pain eventually somewhere in the body.  I’m here to help.

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