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This week I have had interaction with a number of other healthcare professionals regarding patients. 

I have recently worked with primary care physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, dental specialists, pain management physicians, nurses, massage therapists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and surgeons to find the best care for patients.

In many cases the patient has been referred to our office for acupuncture or chiropractic care, or other chronic pain treatment. In other cases one of our patients has needed another specialist and we have made a referral to someone we know can help them.

As much as I continue to study and seek training to augment my clinical experience in order to be able to help patients solve their challenging health issues, I will never be able to address every need of all patients. As I meet with patients, I often encounter a situation where they also need the care of a different kind of specialist.

In most cases when we meet a patient, we will be able to provide effective care for their issues.  However, they may have additional health concerns that require professionals in other specialties. Or there may be cases where a patient has recently relocated and needs help in finding new providers for a range of services.

My focus in our office is diagnosing and seeking a true resolution for chronic pain. We look for the underlying cause of joint, muscle and nerve pain. Many of our patients have been taking over-the-counter or prescription pain medications, muscle relaxers, arthritis medications, nerve drugs such as gabapentin, Neurontin, Cymbalta, Lyrica or others, or in some cases opioid narcotics for month or years.

If a patient is taking a medication routinely to mask pain, that means the source of the pain has not been addressed successfully. In a way, it is like taking your car to the shop because the check-engine light is on and the mechanic hands you a piece of black tape to cover the light. Nothing has been fixed, but you can then ignore the warning since you no longer see the light.

Or suppose a fire alarm was blaring and the fire truck pulls up and the firefighter simply muffles the alarm. The cause for the alarm is left to burn.

These examples seem absurd, but masking pain without addressing the cause is a standard medical practice. Billions of dollars are spent each year on medications that help patients ignore pain.

Many medications are simply masking pain. This can be a grave concern because pain is like a check engine light or fire alarm — it is a warning to you that something is wrong. If you simply mask the pain, the underlying problem is not solved and will often continue to get worse over time.

By studying human joint mechanics, muscle function, nerve function, pain physiology, central nervous system pain processing and other topics related to pain causation and experience, I have learned there are many underlying reasons for pain. These underlying problems are often ignored.

When working with patients, we endeavor to improve joint and muscle function and alleviate sources of nerve pain such as spinal joint and disc problems. With our exclusive medical acupuncture, we have been successful in solving many chronic pain problems that have plagued patients for years. No longer is it necessary to take daily pain-masking drugs.

In some cases, however we need to work with other professionals to help a patient. While our treatment can be effective, they may need additional care. We have found great success by developing a network of well trained, experienced providers that provide excellent patient care. When we make a referral, we choose another specialist as if we were referring a family member.

It is a valuable benefit to be able to work with a wide range of excellent providers. We are blessed in our area to have a complete spectrum of healthcare professionals that work together well.

From week to week we may send a patient to a podiatrist for foot care, a dental specialist to co-treat a patient with jaw joint (TMJ) pain, an interventional pain specialist for advanced pain management for a severe case, a primary care physician for medication evaluation or an internal medicine problem, a physical therapist for help rebuilding a patient’s strength or any number of other types of specialties.

Likewise, our office receives several medical referrals each week from a wide range of healthcare professionals. Local physicians have learned that the care we provide is safe and effective and can help their patients reduce their need for pain-masking drugs and lessen the risk of side effects. By working together, we create a more positive outcome for the patient.

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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