Holistic Healthcare: Caring for the Whole You
Recently, a patient of mine mentioned that she had seen her medical doctor a couple of months prior for right elbow pain. The pain had developed in June when cleaning out her preschool classroom and preparing it for the new school year. Her doctor had diagnosed tennis elbow and recommended a cortisone injection which the patient declined. Instead she opted for a medicated gel and rest. Her elbow was improving but was still bothersome and she found it difficult to avoid using her dominant hand and arm.
She had hesitation about mentioning her elbow pain because, to her knowledge, chiropractors treat the spine. But in her words, “My mother made me ask. Do you treat tennis elbow?”
The answer, of course, is “Yes!” Chiropractors treat much more than back and neck pain. But this conversation made me realize that perhaps this patient was not alone in thinking that chiropractors only treat conditions of the spine.
Chiropractors are holistic healthcare practitioners. This means that we look at how the whole body is connected, structurally and functionally, and we create treatment plans designed to address all of the factors that are contributing to your pain, whether in your neck, your elbow or any of your other parts. This not only ensure more effective treatment of your pain, but also provides results that last and are less likely to recur.
So, if you come to me with elbow pain, I am likely going to examine your elbow and your wrist, shoulder and neck. I’m going to evaluate how well your nerves, muscles and joints are working. Because, while your elbow pain may have started recently, that 2 month old shoulder injury may be causing you to move differently, protecting your shoulder but overstressing your forearm muscles.
In the case of tennis elbow, I might recommend adjusting the elbow, shoulder and neck. I might work on the injured muscles and apply kinesiotape to relieve pain, promote blood flow and correct movement patterns. I would support that with specific exercise training that is safe and effective for this condition and provide you with home care instructions for ice, exercise and what specific activities to avoid.
Remember that children’s song…”the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone…”? I sing that song in my head often. Your body is an engineering miracle. If one part is injured or not working well, another part can help out. The bones are indeed connected, by ligaments, tendons and muscles, and by nerves that deliver 2-way communication, providing sensory input to the spinal cord and brain and delivering feedback messages to tell your body how to respond.
Think of chiropractors as neuro-musculo-skeletal doctors. We can help to ensure that all your body’s parts and systems are functioning as best they can. Yes, chiropractors treat tennis elbow, and a whole lot more!