I’m In Pain—Where Do I Start?!

Let’s face it—our healthcare system is straight up overwhelming sometimes. And confusing. There are so many options, everything is so specialized, and as a patient, it can be nearly impossible to know where to start. What do you do if you’re dealing with a nagging pain or injury? Visit your family doctor? Try to get in with a specialist? Take leftover pain killers from an old injury and hope for the best?

As someone who is part of the healthcare system, I will take ownership in this—we do a POOR job of educating people on where to start and getting people in the right hands. But that needs to change.

I see this so often in my office. People have gone through the healthcare wringer trying to figure out the right place for them. Oftentimes they’ve seen multiple providers and heard different opinions or advice from all of them. Maybe one provider referred them for an x-ray. Maybe one told them to never see a chiropractor. Another gave them muscle relaxers and sent them home. And it all just leaves the patient more confused than when they started.

Or sometimes I get people confused about how to even access services like mine. “Do I need to see my PCP first?”, “Should I get an x-ray?”, “Do I need a referral to see you?”

My goal is to provide tools, education, and resources for people in pain to make the healthcare system easier to navigate and streamline people’s experiences—ultimately allowing for more cost-effective care and better outcomes. That’s a win for everyone.

So let’s chat a little bit about where to start when you’re in pain. I want to start by defining what I do as a rehab-based chiropractor.

As a chiropractor, I am trained in diagnosis and conservative treatment of neuro-musculoskeletal pain and injuries. In simpler terms, this means that if you have pain related to a nerve, muscle, or joint, I can probably help. Conservative treatment means we focus on non-invasive modalities like joint manipulation, soft tissue/muscle release, dry needling, and rehab exercises. Physical therapists fall under this category as well! In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find many differences between a good chiropractor and a good physical therapist. It is not within my scope of practice, however, to do injections, prescribe medication, or do any type of surgical procedure. But thankfully, if any of those are needed, I have a wonderful network of providers I’m happy to refer you to.

As a chiropractor, I am also considered a primary care physician. This means my services are direct access, and you never need a referral to seek treatment in my office. You can pick up the phone or go online to schedule an appointment and usually be seen either same day or at least within a couple days.

During your appointment, it is my job to take your full health history, assess your complaint, and determine a plan of action. In most cases, this looks like a combination of hands-on treatment as well as a rehab plan and things for you to be doing at home.

Did you know that conservative care is the BEST first place to start with nerve/muscle/joint pain and injuries? Even BEFORE imaging, prescription meds, or seeing a specialist. Research supports this as the best and most cost-effective option for the majority of cases. For those of you skeptical about chiropractic or new to this whole things, check out this blog for a beginner’s guide to navigating the world of chiropractic and answers to all your burning questions.

Here’s a non-extensive list of conditions I commonly treat in my office:

Headaches
Neck/back pain
Tennis elbow
Shin splints
Plantar fasciitis
Hip pain
Knee pain
TMJ pain
Shoulder pain
Rotator cuff injuries
Sciatica
Numbness/tingling
Prenatal/postpartum care
For any of these conditions (and many more not listed), outcomes with conservative care are usually excellent. I am also a firm believer in co-managing with other providers when needed and utilizing a hybrid model of care. A few examples of other providers I might refer you to include a registered dietitian, hormone specialist, nurse practitioner, massage therapist, mental health provider, personal trainer, or PCP—just to name a few. Treatment will always be focused around your specific needs with the goal of returning you to your desired activities/lifestyle as soon as possible.

Now let’s chat a little about what I don’t treat.

Remember how I said I can treat pain related to muscles, joints, and nerves? This usually excludes any type of traumatic or emergency injury. For example, if you fall from a tree or get hit by a car, the ER should probably be your first stop. If you suspect anything is broken, ruptured, or dislocated, please don’t come to my office first. I also do not directly treat any internal issues such as GI/reproductive/heart/lung/vascular issues. These are best handled by your medical doctor or specialist.

I know it can be overwhelming. I understand the frustration. But my hope is that this has given you at least a slightly clearer idea of where to start if you are dealing with pain or an injury. If you still have questions or confusion, I want to be a resource for you and encourage you to reach out. And if you’re someone who’s dealing with a neuro-musculoskeletal injury and haven’t known where to start, I’d love to have you in my office.

Thanks for reading, friends. I’m right alongside you and rooting for you in your health and wellness journeys, and it’s my promise to you to continue moving the needle forward toward better, more accessible, and more cost-effective healthcare.

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