Every one of us is probably experiencing some type of pain or medical condition in our lives, and some are more difficult to treat than others. Some resolve quickly, like a cold or sore muscles after a good work out at the gym. Other issues may continue to fester for years, or even decades, with no resolution in sight.
In the search for answers to unresolved pain or health issues, we may go from doctor to doctor searching for a solution, or we may decide it is something we can handle on our own. Some of us never start the search for a solution because we make excuses (age, work, time, stress, money) and don’t make the time to take care of ourselves. At any rate, we will never get resolution to pain or health issues by looking for just one answer, unless we happen to be very lucky. With over 17 years of practicing chiropractic care, I have observed that three main factors influence unresolved pain and chronic health issues. Each area needs to be explored so that the root cause(s) can be addressed and you can begin to heal.
These three factors have to be looked at to solve your health puzzle:
- Mental and Emotional States
Structure has to do with the state of every tissue in our body: organs, muscles, nerves, bones, etc. Biochemistry involves what chemical reactions are or are not taking place in the body, and the food we put into our body to influence these reactions. Lastly, the mental/emotion piece deals with how we think and react to life. If any one of these factors is out of balance it can have a significant affect on the other two, so having all three in balance constitutes an optimally healthy body and creates healing conditions.
Structure and Pain
Structure can be addressed by chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy and medical doctors using various techniques. Choosing the right form of care to treat your muscles, nerves or organs is very important. It may involve a need for exercise or stretching or it may mean reducing your physical activity. For instance, a tri-athlete who exercises excessively may need to reduce the intensity and length of exercise to give the body time to heal, even though exercise is good for us. The right care may mean treatment by health professionals either individually or integratively. Sometimes one form of care may not work but integrating care could have bigger returns. Chiropractic care and physical therapy done together, as an example, could have a bigger benefit than just chiropractic alone.
Lastly, it is important to be open to new forms of care or trying a form of care that may not have worked in the past. Exercise may have gotten rid of your pain when you were young, but acupuncture may benefit you more as you get older. Maybe meditation will work better now than when you were a 20-something year old because you realize that you are at a point in your life that it seems important. Be open and explore new techniques!
Biochemistry, How Are Things Working Inside?
Biochemistry is the chemical processes that are taking place inside the human body. How are you processing food for energy? How is your body fighting disease? Do you eat well? Are you consuming fruits, vegetables, and proteins? Or sugary foods, bad fats, and energy drinks? The fuel for your body has to be high quality and wholesome, or else your body is running on bad fuel, and just like your car, bad fuel eventually makes it break down. Food, supplements and herbs are external influences. You also need to look inside your body and figure out what may be wrong there. This is where you need a medical professional’s expertise to use blood and saliva tests to determine whether the levels of hormones and chemicals in your body are correct. It is also important for your doctor to think outside the box on chronic diseases. Many times an imbalance in one chemical in your body can greatly influence the balance of other chemicals in your body. Finding the root cause of imbalance may have far reaching affects on everything else. If you have unresolved health issues it may be because your doctor needs to investigate further using different, more specific tests. Do you have hypoadrenia which causes fatigue and sugar craving? Or a hypothyroid condition, which can make it difficult to lose weight and makes your body feel cold? Are you too acidic, which can cause joint pain and arthritis? Many mainstream physicians do not test for these things and you may be told that you just have to “deal with it.” An integrative MD is more likely to test for the root cause of health issues.
Mental & Emotional Health: How’s Your Stress Level?
Lastly, and THE most important, is our mental and emotional state. If we think negatively or have tremendous stress it is exhibited in our body. Many people go through life thinking their tight muscles are because they don’t stretch, or that fatigue is from not getting enough sleep. But, the real answer may be more about hating your job – which can cause low motivation, fatigue, tense muscles, and emotional stress. A happy, joyful and low stress body is a healthy and healing body. Ask yourself these tough questions to get an assessment of your current mental and emotional state:
- Have you decided to commit and address your health issues, or are you willing to just “try it and see” what happens?
- Do you want to follow the recommendations you have been given, or do you want to do it your way?
- Do you work crazy hours and have no time for your personal interests or family?
- Are you conscious of your stress or do you try to hide it?
- If you are on a special diet for treating a medical condition are you giving it 100% or are you only doing it half way?
- Do you have a tendency to create excuses about why you can’t do it?
You can be too overburdened by trying multiple health protocols at once as opposed to taking it one step at a time and integrating each into your life. Whatever you choose to do, it has to resonate with you. Don’t set unreasonable goals, but commit to your goal. Making a commitment is a huge first step! Set good boundaries in personal and work life, make yourself a priority, eliminate stress where you can, and use tools like meditation, yoga, and fun exercise to lower stress.
When you get on a plane and get ready for takeoff they give you instructions on what to do in case of an emergency. The airline staff always instructs you to “put your oxygen mask on first” so that you can then help others. When it comes to your pain or chronic health issues, if you take care of yourself first you will be better able to take care of everything (and everyone) else in life. Make yourself the priority and commit to address the areas of structure, biochemistry and mental and emotional states. You will see unresolved pain and medical conditions improve, and you will have a happier and more fulfilling life.
Coy Roskosky, D.C., is a Doctor of Chiropractic in the Washington D.C. area specializing in treatment of chronic pain, sports injuries and sports performance, carpal tunnel syndrome and TMJ. He uses many techniques including Applied Kinesiology (AK), Sacro Occipital Technique (SOT), Active Release Technigue (ART), and Activator in order to achieve long lasting results for the patient.