When to Choose Alternative or Mainstream Healthcare for Neuro-Muscular-Pain?

It’s a question that many of us ask. I like most people was brought up to believe that the Doctor is always right, and that medicine will have an answer to all of my ills. My experience has taught me otherwise, but I know for many they will always default to their GP.

I’m personally a big fan of mainstream healthcare. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in my early 20’s and without medicine, I would be long under. However with my back problems, wrist injuries and sports injuries I’ve not had the same success, which was a big factor in why I ended up retraining as a chiropractor in my late 20’s.

I’m going to focus on neuro-musculo-skeletal problems, though this process can be applied to many areas of health. Just use common sense, and you’ll usually find a good solution.

So what questions could you ask when deciding where to get help with different types of he?

My first question is always - is this life threatening in the short term. If the answer is yes, then go to A&E. Some conditions need medical intervention and they need it NOW. Fractures need to be diagnosed and x-rays do the job quickly and cheaply. For a bad whiplash, it’s always worth getting checked over in A&E first for example, because an unstable or fracture neck could lead to paralysis or even death. And medics are very good at putting you back together when surgical intervention is the short term need.

So I’m alive, nothing is going to kill me, but I’m in lots of pain. What is best?

I’ve had a few severe pain episodes in my life - I damaged a disc in my low back in my 20’s and I had a frozen shoulder a few years back. Both were crippling painful and neither were life threatening, though both potentially “quality of life” threatening.

My questions when it comes to solutions are mainly around the longer term, because I can handle a bit of short term pain. So whatever the intervention I want to know the following:

  • what are the side effects and the consequences of the side effects?

  • how will that affect my pain levels in the short/long term?

  • how will this affect my overall well-being and ability to function in the longer term

Pain killers are most peoples first choice because then life can pretty much carry on as usual, assuming they work.

Here are my concerns around Pain Killers:

  • they numb a problem, leading to potential of more damage

  • they don’t fix the solution, they’re a bit like taking the oil light out of the dashboard instead of changing the oil

  • many painkillers have side effects ranging from gut problems,liver problems, or even mental health problems. You need to know what they are and look out for them. Recent studies have even shown that every day pain killers such as paracetamol are linked to a reduction in the ability to feel empathy, scary I thought. So do your research. Some people also get addicted and getting off the drugs becomes a huge problem.

So let’s assume you’re looking beyond pain killers for a longer term solution. The mainstream approach is physiotherapy, which on the NHS usually means exercises. Exercises are great as far as I’m concerned, as long as they are taught properly and are done to the frequency advised. This works well for many simple back problems, often movement is at least part of the solution.

Alternative Professions

Then you come to the alternative options - or put another way - the options you’ll have to pay for out of your own pocket. You can chose from so many nowadays from Chiropractic, Osteopathy to Spiritual Healing or Reiki. I could list so many.

Here are the questions I always ask?

What are the short and long term goals of the practitioner?

If their whole focus is on pain relief, that may be great, but sometimes this becomes a patch-up, not a long term solution and symptoms rapidly come back

Will I become more resourceful as a result of this?

Having an injury or pain is rubbish, but it can also be an opportunity. Depending on whether you working with a practitioner or the practitioner is “doing to you” can make a big difference. So find out how the practitioner will empower you to be more healthy, more resourceful and more prepared for the future.

We teach everyone Somato-Respiratory Integration (SRI), which is a bodymind approach that uses breath, movement and energy to become more aware of what is going on in your body. With practice, people learn how to release tight, tense areas and how to be more in their personal power. It returns some control to the healing process. Many report feeling that being involved in their journey is one of the most important things to them. We combine SRI with our chiropractic approach, and together get better results.

What are the side effects?

Side effects is a description coined by the medical industry to describe unwelcome events that can happen from medication. Read up on your meds, it’s your body and your responsibility to understand what might happen.

Time is also a big one - many exercise programs require a big commitment to get results, sometimes x3 per day, and many people struggle to put this in, usually resulting in poor results. So if you don’t have the time available you need to look elsewhere.

I’ve found that there are even many positive side effects associated with some interventions.

So what positive side effects can you expect from Network Chiropractic?

In a big retrospective study of nearly 3000, it was found that over 70% people experienced improvements in ALL of the following areas.

  • physical health

  • emotional/mental health

  • life enjoyment

  • stress handling

  • overall quality of life

People also reported spontaneously adopting healthier life style choices without any effort, such as dietary and exercise choices.

So it appears that working with your spine and nervous system, is so much more than just “fixing” your back pain.

So whatever intervention you choose, it’s good to know what the long and short term outcomes are.

Be safe, do your research and make a choice that suits you. I’ve used both mainstream and alternative approaches with lots of success (and some pretty horrible mess ups) and if I had my time again, I’d ask more questions and do it differently.

If I summarise - if it’s not an emergency, often meds are not the best solution. It’s still your choice though. Do whatever works best for you.