This is a common question, “Doctor, why do I need care for such a long period of time?”
Well, the answer to this question has to do with what happens when a problem isn’t solved in a timely way. Your body is both functional and mechanical and the functional is based on the mechanical…in healthcare we would say “function follows structure”.
When joints are moved ever so slightly out of their best position, all we experience usually is a little soreness for a few days and we then think the problem has gone away, often that’s true but occasionally it is not and when it is not, all the body has done is accommodate it…a little change here and a little change there…no big deal, right? Seems true until the fateful day you bend over in the shower to pick up the soap and, as my wife says, “Katie, bar the door”…PAIN, excruciating, right? Unable to stand up straight, but all you did was bend over.
Well, there is a saying about the “straw that broke the camels back“. The tiny little piece of straw was the FINAL thing that crossed the threshold and pushed the limits of physiology of the camel’s back beyond its ability to carry the load. This is what causes such long treatment plans. You see, the bending over is not the problem…nor is it the straw. The problem was the hundreds, perhaps thousands of little accommodations your body has made over the years trying to keep you up and going, while you ignored them, took a few more pain killers and/or muscle relaxers and went and got a massage (I’m not trashing massages but they are not targeted at moving bones).
Oh, the signs were there…fatigue, soreness still present in the morning, waking up with actual pain, lethargy, stiffness, etc. You just didn’t know how to read the signs and thought you were “just getting old”…well, you were…but that’s not what those signs were telling you.
If you failed to maintain your car for ten years, only doing an oil change every ten or twenty thousand miles, would you find it strange if your mechanic said it was going to cost thousands of dollars and a week in the shop to get the thing running again?…heck, at least with the car you leave it and come back later. We have to try to fix you while you’re out there doing the same stuff that got you in the condition in the first place. I often tell my patients “Fixing you is like trying to change a tire on a car that’s moving.”
Fact is, under such circumstances, it’s a wonder we do as well as we do with the treatments plans we recommend. So, next time you’re told how long you have to be seen realize it is a result of all the little unresolved accommodations your body had been forced to endure due to your lack of attention and proper resolution…sorry, truth hurts.
Technically speaking, when these things persist for years, the spine begins to degenerate. There are four stages of Spinal Degeneration…the bones and joints actually begin to break down and fail in their ability to perform their jobs. By the fourth stage, we can only hope to help you with your pain and even then we are not certain we can help.