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Austin’s Natural Approach to Pain Relief: Chiropractic vs. Medication

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As more people are finding their way to a natural solution for pain relief, they are asking many questions about how chiropractic and medicine differ. In this article, we will discuss some of the key things when determining which natural pain relief solution is the right one for you. Before understanding either option, it is important to consider and recognize where most pain comes from. 

At Lifespring Chiropractic in Austin, Texas, we typically find that most people experience pain in their joints and muscles due to lifestyle habits that we will discuss below. Pain is simply our body’s way of alerting us that there is a problem. One of the key differences in chiropractic vs medicine is how they respond to this alarm system. 

Chiropractic Approach to Pain Relief

Pain is a signal from our body that something is wrong. Chiropractors would call this a smart or an intelligent response, similar to a smoke alarm going off when the fire is burning the house down. Yes, the alarm is annoying, but it’s also necessary if we plan on addressing the fire, or in this case the cause of the pain. The first thing that’s required in order to address the fire (or pain in our body), is an awareness and detection that the problem exists. 

Chiropractors honor the intelligence within us by not trying to treat pain or symptoms, but rather address the root cause of why the pain or symptoms are present in the first place. We do this by doing a series of comprehensive tests to discover why pain is present and where it’s coming from. After testing, we can come up with a clear treatment plan that to resolve the issue for good. Treatment and technique can vary greatly from person to person but typically consists of chiropractic adjustments and home exercises which restore proper motion to the spine. When we do this, we restore the proper connection from the brain to the body, thus amplifying the healing ability of the body to “put this fire out naturally.” 

The benefit in this approach is that long term, it offers a solution that addresses the true cause of the problem, ensuring that it’s not something that keeps coming back. The trade-off is that it takes time for the problem to resolve. Anything health-related that is done naturally, without medical intervention takes time. This can be frustrating, especially when we are in high levels of pain and want the problem gone immediately. 

Medical Approach to Pain Relief

In contrast, medicine sees this fire, or pain, as a problem, and quickly tries to take the batteries out so that annoying alarm goes off, turning our head to the fire completely. The benefit of this is almost immediate comfort, and very little work. The trade off is that the true root of the problem is not addressed. This will end up costing more money and taking longer to correct in the future. The symptoms almost always return, as soon as the medicine wears off, because the cause of the issue was not addressed. 

In fact, this is a big reason that the United States ranks so poorly in overall health despite spending more than twice as much money on health than any other country in the world! It’s a problem in strategy, not in resources. We are focused on the batteries of the alarm, instead of the fire. Here’s an article showing the statistics on how the US continues to rank last in health among industrialized countries of the world. 

What is The Root Cause of Pain?

It depends! There can be many causes and the only real way to find that out is to test for it. As mentioned above, the most common cause that we’ve found when it comes to back pain, muscle tightness, or ongoing issues in our body is lifestyle habits. Even if it felt like we just slept weird the other night, or tweaked something at the gym the other day. Usually, this was the last straw. 

As mentioned, we have discovered through years of clinical experience and seeing thousands of patients, that either a lack of movement or too much movement is one of the main contributing factors. To better understand this, we will use a case study of what a typical new patient in our office looks like. 

Low Back Pain Case Study

Initial Presentation

Recently a 30-year-old female with low back pain came into our office feeling like she “needed to be popped” to get rid of the pressure she was feeling in her lower back. The first thing that was done was an examination to discover where the cause of the pain was actually coming from. This individual was very fit and active, and was seemingly very healthy other than the pain she was experiencing daily that was keeping her from exercising as frequently as she desired. 

Determining the Cause of the Pain

After extensive questioning and testing, it was discovered that the problem was really a slow accumulation of many lifestyle habits that left her spine less mobile in certain areas than it should be. This came from an old lifting injury in high school that was never treated, sitting 6 plus hours a day at a computer, and a lack of doing daily corrective exercises to keep her spine healthy. After tweaking something in the gym, she felt low back pain almost immediately, that stuck around for a few weeks. After it didn’t get better on its own, she decided to come see us.

The root cause of pain in most of our patients looks similar to this. We call this the accumulation effect. Similar to the straw that broke the camel’s back, the small daily things add up, usually for months to years, before they start to have perceived negative effects on us. 

Determining the Right Pain Relief Solution

Since everyone is so different, it really requires extensive testing and questioning in a chiropractic examination to discover where the root cause of somebody’s specific pain is coming from. Once the root cause is discovered, an effective treatment plan can be recommended. In this example, spinal adjustments were made to improve the movement of the two areas in the spine that were not moving correctly. Home corrective exercises, along with lifestyle habits like a proper ergonomic desk setup were also given to help speed up healing and prevent the symptoms from returning. 

What Drug is Used to Reduce Pain?

The most common drugs used to treat pain are over the counter non steroidal anti inflammatories (NSAIDS). While NSAIDS can be a great way to temporarily reduce pain, it is important to mention that they come with many side effects and also do not address the cause of where most pain comes from. 

If we use the example above of a patient with low back pain, we found that a lack of movement was the cause of the pain. If lack of spinal movement is the cause of the pain, then introducing movement to those areas makes sense as a solution. Medicine would attempt to address the symptoms, by altering the brain chemistry so that we do not have the perception of pain, leading us to believe that the problem has been taken care of. As we know, this can be a really great short term solution, but it does not offer us a long term correction of a problem. Not to mention this approach has many common side effects. Some of them are listed below: 

  • Stomach pain, 
  • Diarrhea, 
  • Nausea 
  •  Vomiting
  • Constipation
  •  Heartburn
  •  Gas

What is The Fastest Home Remedy for Pain?

There are many natural safe alternatives to medicine when it comes to pain relief. Even though as holistic chiropractors, we believe the best thing to do is to treat the cause of the pain, we also acknowledge that sometimes there is a time and a place for quick pain relief solutions to supplement the way we feel. It is important to note that all these options will offer temporary relief, not address the root cause.

Some of our favorite temporary natural solutions for pain relief include: 

Arnica Gel

Arnica Montana is a homeopathic solution to help manage pain naturally. It has been used for centuries to help reduce pain, muscle tightness, bruising, and more. The gel can be applied topically and generally has a high level of effectiveness without many of the side effects that medication has.

Ice and Heat

Ice is typically used for new injuries due to its analgesic (pain relieving) properties. Heat is commonly used for more chronic conditions due to its benefits in helping to relax tight muscles temporarily which can lead to less pain and irritation in an area. 

CBD

CBD has become widely popular due to the positive results many people get with pain relief, among other things. It is a natural option for pain relief. It is important to note that quality greatly matters. Our Austin friends at Restart CBD are our go to for this recommendation. 

Addressing the Pain Naturally 

We believe that the best and most effective way to address pain naturally is to first discover what is causing your unique pain and symptoms. To do this, we recommend an in-person evaluation with extensive testing with one of our highly trained Austin chiropractors. Schedule your first appointment with one of our health experts to begin the path of addressing your pain naturally.