Last night, I was in yoga doing “downward-facing dog”, when I felt a sharp pain into my wrist. As someone who works with the human body on a daily basis, I knew I should not do this pose if it causes pain. However, whether it was my ego, stubbornness, or just plain stupidity, for some reason, I pushed right on through the pain.
As I did so, I wondered “How many other people in this class are in pain but pushing through?” My guess is the majority of them. Coincidentally, this week alone, I had four new patients who injured themselves doing yoga.
My fellow Coloradans, we are a state full of athletes trained to ignore our symptoms and play through the pain. Well guess what? The whole “No Pain, No Gain” theory is not only wrong, it’s dangerous. Pain is our bodies’ protective signal that something is wrong and it should not be ignored.
So why do we all ignore the pain? Because we think it is temporary and will go away on its own. And if it doesn’t, we ice or pound ibuprofen. Eventually, we call our medical doctor to get stronger pain meds, muscle relaxers or a referral to a specialist. Then what….surgery? Sound familiar?
As a chiropractor, I hear the same story every day. “I’ve tried everything doc. You are my last resort.” Or, “I’ve had this pain for 10 years. My only option is surgery.” Or, “I didn’t know a chiropractor could treat (fill in the blank).”
In a perfect world, physicians of all kinds would all work seamlessly together to prescribe patients the least invasive, least expensive treatments before leaping to the drugs and surgery. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. It is up to us, as patients, to be our own health care advocates. So what can we do?
We can start by paying attention to our pain and taking our injuries seriously. The long-term effects of untreated pain or injuries are real—think loss of productivity, emotional distress, missed work, lost sleep, not to mention degeneration, disc problems and potential surgery. But if we treat it immediately, chances are it will heal faster, with less intervention and fewer long-term effects.
Most pain can be treated conservatively from well-educated, experienced practitioners who work with the human body. Chiropractic and other body-workers have a common goal: Work with the body to regain symmetry, balance and function. The only side effect of this is decreased pain!
Be proactive, weekend warriors, and maintain the quality of life you desire.
Dr. Nichole Freeman is a Colorado-licensed, board-certified chiropractor. Email her your questions here. Call 720-279-8726 to schedule your consultation.