If you have pain and are not addressing it, what is the cost?
When I was going through my training, I had a patient teach me that there are two categories of health concerns. One category are considered "Problems", the other category are considered "Issues". He was telling me at the ripe age of 84 that he has lived well by not downplaying his "problems". Meaning his aches and pains were as important to him as addressing his slowly developing heart failure. He even kept a list of issues and problems that he brought to each visit with me. After we spoke about his hypertension, we would move onto other things like his hip pain and his dry skin. This had a profound effect on me and shaped how I view health. Of course sometimes the problem is screamingly unmanaged and that needs to be addressed wholeheartedly and the issues need to be put on the backburner. However if the problem is more or less managed, then the issue list becomes highly relevant to move forward in overall health. For example, if you are Diabetic and your HbA1C is 9.0% or more , then we pretty much should be focusing on your blood sugar management rather then moving onto a nagging joint pain.But as you can see they may be connected or related.
Flash forward , I was recently speaking to a mother of 4 who was coming to speak with me about weight gain, depressed moods, and fatigue. She wanted to be put on a diet and also to take some supplements for energy. Fair requests for her problems that she presented However, in digging deeper it was revealed that her shoulder pain was waking her all throughout the night. A nagging shoulder impingement that was disrupting her sleep 4 or 5 times a night, was been put in her mind in the "issue" category and something she just to live with. We changed the focus. We put addressing the pain a priority while making the other nutrition and lifestyle changes. Disrupted sleep is like a boulder and obstacle to health restoration. Without addressing this we likely would not of gotten any where. She was surprised that I took this so seriously, and I am glad she listened to my advice to see one of my favorite Eastside physical therapists. Within a few weeks her sleep was improving and that set forward progress in her problem areas.
There is all sorts of pain including nocioceptive, neuropathic, and then a broad category of other types of pain that are hard to categorize like myalgias. There are unique causes to each type that must be addressed specifically. With nocioceptive and mechanical type pain, some people do well via home exercise and corrective exercise programs that we see in the McKenzie Mechanical Diagnostic Therapy books or my favorite of all time Core Performance by Mark Verstegen. Those books are perfect for mechanically oriented pain secondary to sports injuries, lifestyle injuries, and degenerative conditions. In these situations I also refer to medical massage therapists, acupuncture, chiropractic, or physical therapy. Also we usually employ quality inflammation and cartilage supportive nutrients . In other pain scenarios like rheumatologic conditions, multiple dimensions of treatments are often required such as dietary changes, lifestyle changes, gut balancing, nutrient supplementation, and possibly hormone balancing. Neuropathic pain is one of the most complex that requires usually all of the above .
The cost of not addressing the pain is like a slow leaking faucet. It pulls from the quality of life insidiously. First you stop participating in physical events and then the cost grows. It eventually takes its toll. In the right context, issues are highly relevant and important. Keep a list of your issues and address them while also working on your problems.