Have you tried chiropractic, osteopathy, physiotherapy or other therapies for back pain or chronic pain without success?
Perhaps you’ve achieved short-term pain relief or temporary improvements but the pain keeps coming back?
This doesn’t necessarily mean that your practitioner isn’t skilled or knowledgeable. But when it comes to chronic pain conditions, the evidence shows that a multi-disciplinary approach is best.
So why is that?
1. If you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail
Abraham Maslow (he of ‘hierachy of needs’ fame) wisely observed that “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” To apply this to chronic pain and back pain, it’s templing for a practitioner who is trained to use a certain tool (or range of tools) to see your problems in relation to the tools they are familiar with using.
A massage therapist understands the benefits of massage. A physiotherapy understands the benefits of physiotherapy. A chiropractor…well, you get the idea.
Healthcare practitioners very often work in silos, in single-disciplinary clinics or perhaps with colleagues from one or two other healthcare disciplines. This tends to mean that they are not highly knowledgeable about the benefits of other treatments and tools outside their own professional expertise.
Those who do have a better knowledge of when to refer you to another healthcare professional will still, often, have to refer you to another clinic in another location; and you’ll probably then have to go through a whole new new patient process (or on to a new waiting list).
How much better would it be if you had a team of healthcare professionals with a complete set of tools who were working together to identify the best combination of treatments (tools) to meet your needs.
You wouldn’t ask your electrician or your plumber to build your whole house, or expect your joiner to do bricklaying with his hammer. So why would you expect any one clinician or therapist (however good they are) to resolve your chronic health problem?
2. Chronic health conditions have multiple underlying causes – so your treatment needs to address them
Most of the epidemic health problems we have today don’t have a single cause or a simple cure. If they did they wouldn’t be so widespread or difficult to resolve.
‘Simple’ back pain is very commonplace and usually self-limiting (meaning it gets better by itself or with basic self-care). But chronic pain and back pain is another story.
By the time you’ve had back pain or another chronic pain condition for a while, it’s likely that a lot of things within your body and your lifestyle will have changed. They may change as a result of your pain (for example you might stop a hobby you used to love or start feeling depressed). Or they may change because you’re trying to deal with your pain (for instance you might be taking opioids or going for a regular massage).
Frustratingly, some of the things you do to try to deal with chronic pain can actually make it worse. For instance:
- If you stop exercising (because you’re worried you’ll make it worse)
- If you take opioid painkillers on a long term basis (because you worry you can’t cope without them)
- If you have treatments that temporarily take the edge off the pain but don’t get to the bottom of why you’re in pain and why you can’t get out of pain
Well, all of these things are likely to keep you in pain for longer.
Related to this, people often look for purely PHYSICAL symptoms and treatments for chronic pain. However there is increasing evidence that chronic pain often doesn’t have much root in anything physical (like damaged tissue) and that things like our thoughts, central nervous system health, nutrition and hormonal status can have a huge impact on our experience of pain.
Individual practitioners tend not to have the knowledge, expertise, or treatment options to unpick and address the specific underlying causes for your pain. For this reason evidence and clinical practice increasingly support multi-disciplinary treatment approaches for chronic pain conditions.
At Core Clinics our team is multi-disciplinary and highly integrated
For each new patient we identify the best clinician to carry out their initial assessment and consultation, based on the main concerns they are seeking help for. Our ‘Case Managers’ are highly-trained practitioners in their individuals fields (including chiropractic, osteopathy, psychology) and as members of our team they also work very closely with colleagues in related fields.
This means that all our practitioners have a really good understanding of when a colleague is best place to help you or when a combination of treatments is best. We have a team of 30 at our clinic near Warwick including manual therapists, exercise therapists, talking therapists, nutritionist and GP. We also have strong relationships with local healthcare providers including hospitals and imaging centres and can arrange referrals for you and follow up for you.
If you’d like to find out more about how to choose the right clinic for your needs, please get in touch and keep an eye out for our second blog post on the topic, coming soon.