Pain and The Trojan Horse it Rode in on

Hello Folks,

Today I’d like to talk about the less obvious side of pain. It’s the kind of pain that does not seem to be getting better, or for one reason or another does not seem to be getting diagnosed correctly or efficiently.

As chiropractors (whether we like to admit it or not) we are in the business of pain.

Sure, we can talk about wellness and performance, but nothing gets a patient to my office faster than pain.

We are not the only ones in this group. Pain specialists, massage therapists, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons all serve on the “Board of Pain” now and then.

And pain is a difficult business.

Question: What is pain? Pain is a concept that conveys a certain state of being vs. being a “thing”. It might be argued that biochemically it can be measured, but for the most part it can be very hard to test and diagnose.

Example: You say you have a headache. I say, “OK prove it to me”. How would you do that?

Maybe there is an expensive test that could prove you have a very serious illness causing your headache, but most of the time you “just have a headache” and there are no real tests for that.

My office partner Marc Heller, D.C. sometimes likes to say, “pain is a liar!”.

Oh, how this can be true…

I recently got back from the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. They are getting ready for Winter Olympics 2018 so things are quite busy. In the midst of this a female Olympic boxer presents with groin pain that has been getting worse over the last few days of boxing.

I initially assume it must be a groin pull. Wrong…

Further testing shows she has a hernia and probably needs surgery.

I ALWAYS think if a person is not getting better (under reasonable time and expectations), then I need to change my diagnosis, refer out for more testing or refer to another specialist.

Here are a few other pain masqueraders: Right shoulder pain can be gall bladder trouble. Mid back pain can be congestive heart failure. Low back pain can be cancer, ectopic pregnancy, kidney infection or the simple flu. Groin pain can be arthritis in the hip socket. There is also pain from the brain and spinal cord writing “bad software” – think phantom limb pain.

So, what’s the point? The point is we all experience pain now and then, and most of the time we get over it rather quickly with or without an expert’s help. But if the pain continues and no answers are forthcoming keep looking, because occasionally pain rides in on the Trojan Horse.

Matt Terreri, DC, CCSP is a sports chiropractor at Southern Oregon Sports & Spine. He is also the official chiropractor for the SOU Raiders and is a regular volunteer medical provider for the US Olympic Teams