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Pain is not the problem

Dr Alex Ritza Pain Is Not the Problem Title Page

At a recent networking event, a stranger asked me, “Why should someone see a chiropractor if they are not in pain?” The answer I gave, which I have expanded upon here, is no different for any other health professional: pain, a symptom, comes very late in the process of most diseases!

Did you know that:

  • Angina (chest pain) and heart attack-like symptoms do not appear until there is about 90% occlusion of the coronary arteries of the heart
  • Parkinson’s disease symptoms are not evident and a diagnosis is not rendered until there is about 70-80%  loss of dopamine-containing neurons
  • Infectious diseases like the measles, mumps, mono(nucleosus), and HIV have incubation periods from days to years until symptoms can present even though the body has already been invaded
  • Low back pain and disc herniations in particular have been found to occur due to tissue breakdown over a long and slow process, where one last movement is the “straw to break the camel’s back”

The point is: The problem exists long before you know about it. On one hand, this is an incredible evolutionary adaption, whereby the body has reduced its sensitivity to pain. It has so many redundancy systems that allow it to get through daily life without being in agony or slowed down by imperfect physiology.

On the other hand, it poses a serious issue to you and your healthcare providers trying to care for you. The problem that has led to your symptoms has existed for some time whether you are suffering from repetitive strains, nagging sports injuries, a sore neck or back, or untreated pain. By the time I see most people, for example the patient who injured his hip 25 years ago, the body part in question hasn’t moved properly in a long time. Now his arthritis has become so bad that it will be difficult (not impossible) to manage.

Consider the majority of women and men that I see for knee pain, which is known as patellofemoral syndrome (common in runners). They come in with pain in the front of their knee and say that is just happened on the weekend on a normal run. This is not true: It has been happening over weeks to years of the hip and ankle not moving properly, with poor strength and poor nerve supply coming from the spine and its peripheral nerves.

The misguided manual therapist will focus on the knee because that is where the pain is. I know from staying on top of the research that the knee is not the problem. After I loosen up the muscles that are tight, acupuncture and stimulate the gluteal muscles to turn them back on, adjust the spine to ensure its proper movement, correct the foot movement through proper shoes, orthotics, exercises, or footwear, the knee will get better. The knee pain is the consequence of the other areas not working properly, just as the heart attack is the consequence a multitude of factors such as poor diet and lack of exercise. Correct the dysfunction at the root cause and there will not be a problem in the future.

So, why should you see a chiropractor if you are not in pain? We can determine, using movement screens and a thorough physical examination, which joints move poorly, which muscles are weak, and which nerves need to be turned back on, in order to fix the problem before it progresses. You do not wait for your car to be on fire on the 401 to get your car to the mechanic, and you most certainly shouldn’t wait to make sure your body and spine are moving great. A Honda can be replaced; your body can’t.

Don’t let yourself end up in my waiting room putting X’s on a symptom diagram. Prevent the issues before they arise and continue to grow stronger, faster, and happier.

But if you do have pain, I can get rid of that too.


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