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Solving a mystery requires observation, experience, input and often expertise.

This week I am trying to solve a mystery in my back yard. I have found numerous small holes about two inches across and only a couple of inches deep. They are definitely not tunnels. They appeared overnight this week.

Friends on Facebook have suggested skunks, groundhogs and armadillos as well as squirrels and moles.  I have been trying to determine the source and then determine the best plan to take to eradicate the problem by observing the signs, using my own experience, getting input from friends. So far, I have not called on the experts.  I have no doubt that if I called a competent pest expert, they would discern within minutes the cause of my holes and recommend options for how to deal with it.

Have you noticed that is how many people deal with a health issue?

Someone will notice a new symptom, they will ask a non-medically trained friend, (or perhaps a friend with some medical training but not an expert in that field) or search Google for answers.  But they stop short of calling an actual expert.

After graduating from an excellent professional school after eight years of post-graduate training, national board examinations, countless seminars, conferences and achieving numerous certifications and reaching the point that I am called on to provide continuing education for other pain professionals, three decades of experience seeing more than 10,000 patients in pain, my expertise is in finding the cause of chronic pain and providing non-surgical, drug-free solutions that work. In our office we focus intently on obtaining excellent results so we are always looking to improve the outcomes.

With that background, it is not uncommon for me to encounter a patient that has sought pain treatment from multiple other healthcare professionals without success and recognize in a short time something that has likely been missed. The expertise I have gained through the years of accumulated education and experience helps to solve mysteries that would be challenging without it.  

As I visit with patients and hear their stories, I’m struck by how often we humans will take the steps I outlined above with regard to the hole in my back yard, and yet never call in the appropriate expert.

Often people really try to call on an expert, but the first expert visit doesn’t solve the problem. They might seek the advice of their primary care provider and be given a prescription. If the problem doesn’t resolve, they may conclude that since the prescription didn’t work the problem can’t be helped.

I often have patients that have been very diligent and have been to numerous healthcare providers, had numerous expensive imaging or tests and tried various treatments for months or years, still without results.  These cases are always more challenging, because if the solution were easy, it would have been found already.

Patients have also told me, “I have already tried (medications, physical therapy, a chiropractor, or even surgery) and I still have pain.”  These are the cases where I have to just take my time and work from the beginning to see if there is something that everyone else overlooked. It is somewhat like the cold case crime shows on television. In some cases, something has been overlooked. In other cases, there is new evidence that has not been considered.  In some cases, a detective will have a certain experience, training or expertise that the previous detectives did not have.

In most patients with chronic pain, there are treatments that may have a chance of helping that have not been tried.  Perhaps chiropractic has been tried before but it was the wrong form of chiropractic.  Perhaps a newer more advanced form of treatment will be helpful. Perhaps a newer technology such as non-surgical spinal disc decompression in indicated. It may be that although acupuncture has been around for millennia, contemporary medical acupuncture will have great results.

In many cases a discussion with a patient will reveal something that they are doing at home that is exacerbating their problem every day and no one has recognized this or told them about it.  

Every patient that comes to see us with a complaint of chronic pain is essentially bringing us a new mystery. Our role is to observe, gather information, then put our experience and expertise into action to see if we can find a solution that works.

Dr. Mark Kestner is a licensed chiropractic physician in Murfreesboro. His office is at 1435 NW Broad St. Contact him at mkestner@DrKestner.com

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