“Well I have this sore spot but that’s been bothering me for years so don’t waste your time looking at that. Nothing can be done about it.” I cock my head and cup a hand to my ear as if I am listening for something no one else can hear. The client gives me a curious look. I grin and say “I think I just heard the gauntlet fall somewhere over there.”
You Can’t Fix That – No One Can
This happens quite often in my practice. Someone comes in for a problem in one area of their body, and when I ask them questions about previous injuries and pain in other areas they mention some old injury that still bothers them. This injury in some cases happened literally decades ago. They have often made several attempts to do something about it, but have only ever achieved temporary relief so they assume that it’s hopeless.
Here’s the thing – it’s not hopeless. Well, it is if treatment is aimed only at the spot that hurts. It’s not if you look at the big picture first. Pain is a very important protective mechanism for the body. Without it we would never know that our appendix was about to burst or how long to stay off that broken leg. Pain draws attention to the fact that something is wrong.
Don’t Shoot the Messenger
When one area of the body hurts then we assume that the actual problem lies there. However, in my experience that is almost never the case (excepting things like broken bones of course). When stress is put upon a system, the system will give at its weakest link. Think about that pedestrian bridge that collapsed recently in Miami. Yes there were cracks that were noticed before it collapsed, but those small cracks didn’t cause the bridge to collapse. They were just a warning sign that something was wrong with the design and that the system was unable to support the stress put upon it as a whole.
Our bodies are much the same. When we do things like walk, reach up into the cupboard for something, or sit at a computer, we are actually using our whole body to do it. When things are out of alignment (in effect the bridge design is off) then we place undue stress on the system as a whole. What “gives” is the most vulnerable part and that’s where the pain surfaces. The painful area is no more the cause of the problem than those small cracks in the bridge were. It is a symptom of a bigger issue. It tells us that our architecture is off and so we are not spreading the load evenly the way a good bridge should.
Fixing It Requires Looking at the Big Picture
In order to address long-standing issues, we must look at the whole body first and see where the architectural flaws lie. It is only through addressing alignment and postural control issues that there will be any potential for improving that injury that’s been nagging at you for however many years.
If you have a long-standing injury you’ve given up hope on, don’t despair. We have had much success resolving these issues and helping people get on with their lives. We would love to help you too.