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The Life You Want to Live

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Chiropractic Care and Chronic Pain

Regular chiropractic care can provide substantial benefit for people with chronic pain. By focusing on the spine and nerve system, chiropractic care gets to the source of many chronic musculoskeletal problems including headache, neck pain, and back pain.

Chiropractic care helps restore more normal spinal mobility, which in turn helps restore more normal function in the nerve system. By removing sources of irritation to spinal nerve roots, chiropractic care helps reduce the impact of incoming pain signals. The result is often a reduction in the amount of pain a person is experiencing, and a lessening of the intensity of chronic pain patterns. As pain diminishes, muscles relax, improved circulation is reestablished, and oxygen and other vital nutrients are delivered to cells and tissues that need them the most. In this way, chiropractic care helps improve overall health.

We all want to get the most we can out of life. Whether we want to find a loving partner, work at a meaningful career, gather an abundance of financial resources, or have enough leisure time to pursue favored interests, the usual bottom line is that we want to be happy. Throughout thousands of years of history, the great philosophers have pointed to happiness as the worthwhile goal of all human activities. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle (384 B.C. - 322 B.C.) suggested that eudaimonia - happiness - is our best good.

Most of us would agree that the life we want to live involves achieving the greatest degree of happiness. Even if we haven't spent much time studying the works of Aristotle, we intuitively seek our greatest happiness. But such joy often escapes us, even at times when we think to ourselves that we ought to be happy. Various obstacles stand in our way, not the least of which is physical pain.

Physical pain can overshadow our various paths to personal happiness. We can tolerate acute pain for a while in the hope that it will go away soon, within a week or two at the most. But chronic pain is another matter. Often, extraordinary resources need to be utilized to maintain a positive attitude in the face of ongoing pain.

Many people experiencing chronic pain may find it difficult to imagine really living the life they want to live. Pain seems to influence everything. But there are many tools and techniques for diminishing the impact of chronic pain. The practice of yoga1,2 has consistently been shown to provide benefits, as has developing the habit of doing regular exercise3, such as walking or swimming. Engaging in enriching activities such as learning a new language, studying a musical instrument, and learning how to draw or paint with watercolors can shift one's focus away from pain and toward personal growth and development.

Also, chronic pain, at least that involving the musculoskeletal system, may benefit from chiropractic care. For example, chiropractic care can often help with chronic headaches, chronic neck pain, and chronic low back pain. For many people the benefit may be substantial. Your chiropractor is experienced in the care of many chronic conditions and will let you know whether chiropractic care is right for you.

1Michalson A, et al: Yoga for chronic neck pain: a pilot randomized controlled clinical trial. J Pain 13(11):1122-1130, 2012
2Tilbrook HE, et al: Yoga for chronic low back pain: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med 155(9):569-578, 2011 
3Sullivan AB, et al: The role of exercise and types of exercise in the rehabilitation of chronic pain: specific or nonspecific benefits. Curr Pain Headache Rep 16(2):153-161, 2012