Imagine you are driving down the street and the “check engine” light comes on in your car. You stop your car, get a piece of masking tape, and cover up the “check engine” light. Now that you cannot see the light, you continue on your way. This is the equivalent to taking anti-inflammatory medications to mask the problem when feeling aches and pains. The ache or pain is your body communicating that something is not right. Taking the anti-inflammatory or getting the anti-inflammatory injection may block the pain but does not address the underlying issue.

What if anatomical reasons were considered for pain?

What if anatomical reasons were considered for pain?

Without trying to figure out why there may be an inflammatory process taking place, one is simply masking the problem and continuing on as if it did not happen. The medication may help alleviate the pain, but how does it actually fix anything? The answer is… most of the time, it does not. The reason for inflammation is not addressed, only the inflammation. That may be why many aches and pains continue to nag or bother people on a regular basis.  When I grew up, this was the recommended solution for many aches and pains. The problem was that my pains were not from being deficient in ibuprofen or naproxen. My problem was that my structural issues often went ignored.

More often than not, pain is trying to convey a message to us that something is wrong with the health of the body. Mild pains, such as small back or neck aches, may indicate a problem that is not as severe as something that is extremely painful, like a broken bone or infected appendix. Over time, however, little problems left unattended can turn into bigger problems. Gross movements on examination fall within the normal ranges and imaging studies often come back negative. As a result, practitioners feel that structurally everything is fine. Many doctors do not believe that slight anatomical dysfunctions and little aches and pains are worth worrying about. It is not until a little problem, such as a chronically mildly dysfunctional joint, becomes irritated and inflamed breaking down into something more severe like osteoarthritis that it gets attention. Even then, the answer is anti-inflammatories.

Look around you, if anything broke down like a car, sink, television, you would strongly consider that something has gone wrong with the structure. We do that with everything around us, except living beings. For some reason, there is a strong belief that structural problems play very little roles in health. It is only when something is so grossly obvious that the medical profession feels structure can influence health. I do not believe the medical profession will make much progress with pain unless it stops looking at the body as a series of biochemicals that just need the right medication and consider that perhaps structural dysfunctions, no matter how slight, may play a role in pain and health. This is not to say that this is the cause and answer for everything, but I find it plays a much bigger role than we currently give it credit for.

What I find by evaluating and resolving subtle structural abnormalities is that the dysfunctional anatomy may create the environment where pain, disease or infections can take hold. My role is to influence the anatomy and position tissues to the where the body suddenly responds and can resolve an issue. This helps create the environment where healing can occur and then the body takes it from there. For example, restoring normal flow to an area of congestion and stagnation is like restoring flowing water to a stagnant, diseased pond. Suddenly, it can then become cleaner and less diseased. The human body is very complex and we should stop assuming that it operates in a different way than everything around us. Along with other factors, your overall health depends on proper structure of not just one part, but the whole.

Daniel Lopez, D.O.

Author Daniel Lopez, D.O.

Daniel Lopez, D.O. grew up with a lot of pain trying many things that did not help. Realizing that if he could not help himself, he would be unable to help others effectively, he dedicated himself to finding real answers. Since that time, Dr. Lopez has found a unique but powerful style where he has patients from around the country and the world that travel to see him for headaches, TMJ issues, eye issues, neck pain, back pain, and more. Daniel Lopez, D.O. is an osteopathic physician with Osteopathic Integrative Medicine. Prior to that he had a private practice in NYC for 6 years. He is the author of the Amazon best seller "Unwinding the Body and Decoding the Messages of Pain: An In-Depth Look into the World of Osteopathic Physicians and How They 'Magically' Use Their Hands for Healing." He lives in Aurora, CO with his wife and daughters.

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