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Getting To The Root Cause of Your Pain: What You Deserve As A Patient




It's become a common occurrence in my conversations with patients that at some point, they feel the healthcare system and/or healthcare providers let them down. The main problem these patients face is that they aren't shown the way back to health in an appropriate and efficient manner. These people that are in pain and injured aren't getting a thorough exam, therefore they aren't getting the correct conservative care or a plan to prevent this issue from happening again in the future. Since we deal mainly with musculoskeletal pain and injuries we're going to spend our time covering mainly these issues in this post.


There are 3 fundamental aspects of care you deserve as the patient

  1. An In-Depth Examination and Assessment

  2. What Your Conservative Treatment Options Are

  3. Training to Prevent Future Episodes of Pain


An In-Depth Examination and Assessment

Patient's will often go to their primary care physician or a specialist, receive a good history and consultation, but then receive a very low-level musculoskeletal exam. Most of the time, the doctor doesn't even examine the muscle tissue, joint function, and/or the patient's movement patterns. They might perform some orthopedic tests or order some imaging, but ultimately come to the conclusion that you should simply "take a break for a few weeks" and prescribe you some medication to help manage some of the symptoms. As a patient, you should know what to expect from an in-depth examination and assessment. Your examination should provide you with a working diagnosis and the possible indirect causes of your pain or injury. This should be clearly communicated to in an easy to understand way. To determine a working diagnosis, an in-depth examination should include the following:


  • A Detailed History & Consultation

  • Movement & Functional Assessment (Assess any weakness, muscle tightness, or dysfunctional movement patterns)

  • Orthopedic Exams, Range of Motion Testing, and Neurological testing if needed

  • Joint and Muscle Testing

When a proper examination and assessment is done, the healthcare provider can determine the most appropriate course of care and game plan for the patient. This information allows for an informed decision on which conservative treatment options are best suited for your individual problem.


What Your Conservative Treatment Options Are

In our opinion, you deserve to have a comprehensive hands-on approach to your pain or injury. Most patients respond best to a specific combination of therapies, and this combination depends on the person. This can include muscle therapy, joint restriction chiropractic adjustments, rehab exercises, and advice on how to train and prevent future episodes of your injury. You might not need muscle therapy and chiropractic adjustments in every case of pain or injuries, but most people benefit from all four approaches below.





Conservative treatment should not be a “one size fits all” approach. With multiple therapies available, each focusing on different tissues, it's important that your care plan is individualized based on your personal findings from your in-depth assessment.


Training to Prevent Future Episodes of Pain

There are few things more frustrating from both the patient and doctor’s perspective than the return of the original pain or injury. There are many factors that can contribute to a re-aggravation of your injury or symptoms. This includes: strain from work, life or sport, not performing the prescribed exercises, and/or the lack of adequate injury prevention training from your healthcare provider. As an informed patient, these are the preventative options you should expect instruction on.

  • Activities of Daily Living Training: Multiple activities we do in our daily life may cause physical strain when performed incorrectly.

  • Return to Work and/or Sport Advice: Time frame for return and possible temporary modifications.

  • Ergonomic changes: Proper lifting, desk setup, bending, posture, etc.

  • Corrective Exercises: Pelvic stability, Core stability, balanced muscle strength, restoring range of motion


In summary, there are many potential shortcomings that may occur when seeing any healthcare provider for musculoskeletal pain or an injury. The first step is to educate yourself and understand what quality care looks like. Below are some key points that to expect from your provider when you seek treatment for any musculoskeletal condition.

  • A comprehensive evaluation that includes, but isn't limited to: a thorough history, functional movement screen, hands on assessment of the joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments.

  • An exam that assesses the body as a whole to determine the root cause, not only focus on the point of pain. For example, many times a patient with low back pain has hip range-of-motion and mid-back mobility issues that have led to the low back being over-worked.

  • A specific working diagnosis based off the in-depth exam.

  • An explanation of all your treatment options, especially the conservative treatment options. You should have the opportunity to discuss these options and have all your questions answered.

  • Advice regarding preventative care for your injury so that once you are out of pain, you can avoid re-injury in the future.


Credit to Chiropractic Success Academy


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