Nearly daily I encounter patients who have been taking ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen on a daily or near-daily basis for ongoing pain. These patients finally come to our office in a search for answers. They are tired of taking drugs that help temporarily but do nothing to solve the underlying problem causing the pain.
In some cases, they have been to a clinic and received a prescription for a “stronger” pain medication, a muscle relaxer or some other drug. These drugs work temporarily just like the over-the-counter versions, but the pain comes back. In some cases, they have been told by their doctor to “learn to live with the pain and take the pain drugs to sleep.”
These are the cases I am especially motivated to try to help.
I really dislike hearing that a patient has been told, “There’s nothing else to do, just take the pain drugs.” In so many cases I have seen over the past three decades there most certainly is something else to do. In many cases we are able to find solutions to the underlying problem that is causing the pain.
We have a few successful pain-treatment solutions that are not widely available. I find that in many cases, nothing has been tried other than the drugs. In some cases, a patient has tried one other provider and that didn’t work so they give up.
That’s like imagining that all car mechanics have the same level of skills and the same diagnostic equipment and expertise. That is just not true. Some mechanics are satisfied to go to work every day and be average, working with average level of training and using run-of-the-mill diagnostic and repair equipment.
Others work diligently each week to learn more about their craft, save up to buy the best diagnostic tools and equipment they can find and seek to add to their knowledge and experience every day. They thrive on finding the solutions to difficult or challenging mechanical problems that vex the average (or below average) other mechanics. Their excitement and pride in their work is just as vital after 30 years as it was when they began.
Isn’t it obvious in the above illustration that some mechanics will be more successful at solving problems than others? There are differences among various types of healthcare professionals as well. An attorney friend reminded me recently that exactly 50 percent of doctors (and attorneys) graduated in the bottom half of their class.
In recent years the insurance companies have managed to become much more powerful in leading the way for the healthcare industry. These companies are focused on controlling their expenses and increasing their income. Unfortunately, one way they do this is to push statistically “average” healthcare standards.
Of the more than 10,000 patients I have seen I have found that every patient is a unique individual. There is no such thing as an average patient. So much of medicine is now provided based on averages and statistics. It is just more economical to do it that way.
Yet patients are all so very unique. Our body is individual just as our fingerprints are one-of-a-kind, no other body was formed just like our own. The past history of illnesses, surgeries, treatments, drug history and other factors make each of us even more unique. By the time a patient presents with chronic pain, there can be a great amount of differences between one patient and the last one that seemed to have the same symptoms. This is especially true for spine and joint pain patients. This is why masking pain is often of little help overall.
For patients that have pain that is persistent, it is smart to find a provider that will look for the underlying issue to find a long-term solution.
For optimal outcomes, it is important to seek the underlying reason a patient presents with ongoing pain. Simply covering the pain by masking it with a pain drug only serves to allow the cause to become worse over time.
Dr. Mark Kestner is a licensed chiropractic physician in Murfreesboro. His office is at 1435 NW Broad St. Contact him at mkestner@DrKestner.com.