One morning, while I was at the office catching up on some notes, a nice elderly gentleman walked into my office. He told me he was in tremendous pain and needed help. I invited him into the back and sat down with him so he could tell me his story.
He told me he had tremendous low back pain as well as radiating pain that went down his right leg all the way to his foot. From his description, it sounded like a classic case of sciatic neuritis (sciatica).
This problem occurs when a disc herniates or bulges out and presses on the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots. It’s one of those problems chiropractors see every day and have great success in treating.
We Need To Take A Closer Look
Using a plastic spinal model, I showed him what “normal” and “abnormal” looked like. Then I explained I would need to do an examination to take a closer look.
The elderly gentleman seemed delighted that finally he found somebody who understood what he was going through. It gave him hope. I had him complete some intake forms. And then I did an examination. Based on the orthopedic and neurological tests I did, confirmed my suspicion that we were indeed dealing with a classic case of sciatica.
The PCP Takes Charge
A couple of days later, the elderly gentleman called me to inform me that he was not coming back to my office. The reason was that he went to see his primary care physician. Apparently, the PCP hates chiropractors and demanded he instead gets a cortisone shot and follows up with a neurologist.
I was disappointed at the idea of losing him as a patient. But I was even sad knowing that he was never going to get the care he needed and he wouldn’t ever get better. I’ve been doing this work for 22 years and have seen literally hundreds of these types of situations.
We Live In A Drug Culture
It’s sad. If you’ve been reading my blog posts, by this point you should be educated enough to understand that cortisone (or any other pharmaceutical) is never going to fix sciatica (or any other musculoskeletal problem). All they do is give a temporary patch rather than a corrective fix.
Second, all of these drugs are toxic and harmful to the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and brain. Cortisone in particular is troublesome. It makes the bones brittle and degenerates the soft tissues making surgery more likely. Yet despite all of this, primary care physicians continuously prescribe these drugs for chronic, ongoing musculoskeletal problems.
This Is What You’ll Be Missing
At no time will they re-align the patient’s spine (something you only get from a chiropractor). Nor will 99% of them have the ambition to diagnose and correct movement problems, motor control issues, cross-body syndromes, soft tissue problems, and other issues which are often the root causes of chronic pain syndromes.
It’s a source of frustration for me because not only do I do all of these things in my office, but I can’t seem to get the PCPs to understand any of this. When I meet with them (and I’ve met with a lot of them), they listen to what I’m saying, nod their head that they understand and some even ask a few questions. And then they’re off to meet with the next patient (and do the same thing they always do).
If you have a musculoskeletal problem (such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, migraines, shoulder problems, hip problems, sciatica, carpal tunnel, etc..) or you’ve been in a car accident or a work comp injury, go to a chiropractor.
Let’s Find Out What’s Wrong
The process starts with gathering some information. We’ll take a look at your past medical history. After that, we have a one-on-one consultation where you’ll tell me your story and how the problem is affecting your life.
After the consultation, we’ll do an examination. I check your posture, range of motion, and balance control. Then I’ll palpate each joint and each muscle and evaluate how well they are functioning. We’ll do some orthopedic tests and neurological tests. And then I’ll determine if we need to do some additional things (like an x-ray or MRI).
After the examination, we’ll do a doctor’s report of findings. In this consultation, I will present back to you what I’ve found and what needs to be done to fix the problem. We do things in a very deliberate, careful, and thoughtful manner. My goal is to arrive at the right diagnosis, and apply the right therapies at the right time in order to get the best possible clinical outcome.
This is a stark contrast to just getting the medical standard of care (round after round of cortisone shots).
If you have a problem, rather than masking the problems with drugs, seek out a doctor who will focus on restoring movement, function, and stability. I recommend seeking chiropractic care for chronic musculoskeletal problems.