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Pain – Friend or Foe?

An in-depth look at what our bodies are really trying to tell us.

In the United States, pain has a much different connotation than in many other countries around the world. In America, pain is frowned upon and seen as a bad thing, a weakness almost. In fact, did you know that the United States alone is responsible for the consumption of 80% of the entire world’s pain pills? We do everything in our power to cover up and numb the pain without asking the ultimate question, “Why is the pain there to begin with?”

Pain is not a problem it is merely a symptom. When we define the word “symptom” we discover its meaning to be “a physical or mental feature that is regarded as indicating a condition of disease, particularly such a feature that is apparent to the patient.” I would go on to add that a symptom is simply a feedback mechanism in the body. The sole purpose of a symptom is to wake you up to the fact that your actions and your lifestyle are not congruent with those required to express optimal health, and that you may be putting your body at some type of detrimental or even lethal risk. For example: When you get a headache, it is not because your body is deficient in aspirin. The headache is actually the result of some underlying problem. It could be a pinched nerve in the neck which is causing inflammation. It could be the result of poor posture straining your neck muscles and your spinal cord. It could be that you are consuming too many inflammatory causing foods. It could be that you have not gotten adequate rest. It could be that your lungs are not able to expand properly due to rib or mid-back misalignments (i.e. what we as chiropractors call subluxation) which is causing a decrease in oxygen levels in the blood, as well as a number of other reasons.

If the headache is the result of a pinched nerve in the neck (i.e. subluxation), taking a pill will not reposition the vertebra (i.e. spinal bone) that is misaligned. The only way to correct that vertebra would be with the chiropractic adjustment, thereby taking pressure off of the nerves and allowing the body to heal itself —which will allow the headache to resolve itself. The hardest fact for most people to accept or understand is that health does not come in the form of a pill. Rather, it comes from making small, healthy choices on a daily basis that will improve the overall state of your body. Going for a nice walk, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, minimizing the consumption of sugar, stretching, doing yoga, working on flexibility and mobility, limiting the time that we are sitting, and most important of all, optimizing our brain and nervous system health through regular chiropractic adjustments.

So the next time you feel any kind of pain (or symptom) throughout your body, whether it be in the neck, back, in the arms or legs, etc., remember to ask the question “what is my body trying to tell me?” Then, begin the process of figuring out the answer. This could include consulting your local chiropractor or trusted primary care provider, examining the foods you are eating, or performing an evaluation of your daily habits, stress load, and posture. After all, there are no shortcuts when it comes to achieving and maintaining optimal health!

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