The Truth About Pain and Healing

Healing process is like climbing a mountain

“Thank you, you fixed me.” 

As chiropractors, this is something we often hear. But it isn’t entirely accurate. Wouldn’t it be great if one adjustment was enough to resolve our pain? Unfortunately, this doesn’t align with the scientific principles of healing. Unless it’s the result of a traumatic joint injury, most pain appears slowly over time and is the result of signals in the nervous system that have accumulated, indicating something is wrong.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t acknowledge these signals. Tightness, soreness, dull aches, headaches, and sharp pain with movement are some of the most common pain messages people ignore. Some resort to Bandaid solutions, such as anti-inflammatories, ice, gels, or braces to subdue and forget the pain. The problem is that the pain, which is a symptom, has simply been suppressed while the cause of the problem remains unaddressed.

Are We Ever Fully Healed?

Let’s be real: As long as you are a living, breathing, walking, talking, and working human, your body is actually in a constant state of healing. All of that activity creates wear and tear on the body. Luckily, the body has the natural ability to address the wear and tear. The truth is that you will never be completely healed as long as you are living (unless you somehow manage to leave your body). 

Our bodies are always receiving, recovering, and adapting to physical and environmental stress. Under stress, our spine and other joints often compensate for these stresses to prevent further injury. This causes muscular, skeletal, and neurological imbalance, dysfunction, and pain if left unaddressed.

A Real-Life Example 

Imagine that your pelvis is tilted out of its proper position and is restricted in its motion. Walking, running, getting in and out of the car, sitting — all of these things create more inflammation and expedite degeneration around the joint and surrounding areas.

Your knee is now working extra hard to remove some of the pressure from the hip. But your knee can only deal with this for a certain amount of time before it too begins to have problems. Sooner or later your body gets angry that you didn’t listen and decides to shut down because it cannot work harder to keep pace with the unrealistic demands you’ve placed on it.

Finally, you got to see a chiropractor because of the pain in your knee. But the pain in your knee isn’t the source of your trouble, is it? You see, it all started at the hip. The problem is more complex. As a result, normal range of motion and moving past pain will take time. The body can’t resolve months or years of repetitive trauma in just a few visits. It takes time and lifestyle modifications.

Healing Requires Time

Chiropractic Principle Number Six says, “There is no process that does not require time.” It took time to get to the point of pain and injury. It will take time for the body to repair damaged tissue, retrain joint motion, and regain global spinal and segmental spinal alignment. This doesn’t account for any ongoing environmental stressors from sitting, exercising, using technology, and work- or home-related gravitational stressors.

We’ve often seen patients who have never experienced chiropractic care have amazing experiences after their first adjustment. We’ve seen pain levels drop significantly after just one visit, and this often enables people to begin fully participating in life again. These are some of the best moments for patients and for chiropractors.

But these moments do not mean that you are healed. As mentioned above, we are never fully healed. As long as we are living and moving, we are placing a strain on our bodies. The goal of chiropractic care is to fully enable the body’s natural healing process by easing the overall stress load on the body to better address the strains of everyday living. With stress diminished, the body can adapt and recover naturally.

Yours in health,

Drs. Irina and Ben