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Do We Need To Live With Pain?


"I can live with it." This is a comment heard often by chiropractors regarding their patients’ headaches, stiff necks or back pain. Many people have been led to believe that living with pain is necessary, when it often can be relieved fairly quickly and easily - not temporarily with pain medication - but by addressing the cause and correcting it.

The philosophy that we must live with back and neck problems is common in North America. There are many books and schools which offer to teach us how to cope with and live with back and neck pain.


That this is not usually necessary has been vividly demonstrated by a study at the University of Saskatoon, where an orthopedic surgeon and a chiropractor working together arranged a course of chiropractic treatment for 171 people who had experienced debilitating back pain an average of 8 years. These were patients who had not responded to traditional conservative or surgical treatment. All were totally disabled at the beginning of the study. These patients received chiropractic treatment consisting of daily spinal adjustments for 2 to 3 weeks. Of those diagnosed as having posterior joint syndrome or sacroiliac syndrome, 87% returned to full function with no restrictions for work or other activities. None were made worse. These included patients who had already undergone spinal surgery.

The most alarming aspect of the "stoic" approach that you must live with the pain, from the point of view of the chiropractor, is that spinal joint dysfunction is not a static condition. If you have a dental cavity, you may say "I can live with it", but eventually it will progress to a state that is not tolerable. It is the same with spinal problems. Lack of proper joint movement causes the affected joints to wear abnormally, leading to degeneration and arthritic changes.


This is most distressing in the case of children complaining of headaches, leg pains or back pain who are told they will "grow out of it". In fact, children are highly adaptable and their bodies more easily compensate for abnormal joint movement. They may have serious biomechanical problems for years with no pain. They may indeed "grow out of" the current complaint but the problem remains and leads to other problems in adulthood. These can include disc degeneration and knee and hip problems. Many problems presented to the chiropractor had some of their origin in childhood injuries.

The next time you suffer from a headache or back pain and are tempted to say to yourself, "I can live with it," ask yourself - do you really want to?

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