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Is it better to feel good or bad?

This question came from doing the Doctor’s Report on Monday.  I have given this talk, or some version of it I should say, over 800 times.  And as I was talking about the changes that a Phase II patient would go through to insure improvement of their spine, I mentioned how if you were take pressure off of the portion of your spinal cord that controls organ function, by displacing the cord into the back of the spinal canal, you would in turn increase pressure on the component that controls muscle function.

By doing so, you would inevitably cause an increase in negative sensations eventually, through reduced muscle control, and irritation to the motor nerves, leading to possible increase in injury.  So who would opt for a longer life, with less risk of cancer and greater overall healing and function in your organs, over a decrease in overall function of the motor system.

This cervical spine doesn’t hurt horribly, though it seems like it should given its position. It does however hurt to wear headweights, and the headweights provide an instantaneous curve change of 30%. This pain is worth enduring.

The Answer….

Everyone who could see the value of it, and nobody who could not.  I have a patient who just recently chose to stop care, and I have another on contemplating it right now, because of not liking how they are feeling as we go through the process of change.  I can understand this, it is so easy to lose site of what we are trying to accomplish… health.

Remember the University of Tokyo medical doctors who determined that reversal of cervical curve, anywhere within the cervical spine, causes demyleniation and atrophy of the anterior funuculus… AKA – degeneration of the part of the spinal cord that controls organs… AKA the beginning of Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS.  Shown to be more true than anyone might have originally thought, as the volumes of evidence piles up showing damage to the spinal cord following areas of compression/tension.  Posture is life.

So back to the question.  Why are we so quick to assess by how we feel?  Because we want to feel good.  I know I do.   Fortunately, I have experienced so much pain in the past, that I believe I have achieved a pretty good level of tolerance for pain.  The eye was bad, but trying to play hockey (this was the collegiate national championship game for the ACHA – not NCAA), on a completely torn AC Joint was really painful.  I had to stop after several attempts as I was a useless liability on the ice, but the pain was real.  My point is simply that I think I have enough of an appreciation for past pain, that I would be willing to endure low levels if I knew they were a better choice.

It is hard, because of course we assume health involves feeling good, and admittedly, in 95% of cases, when you achieve greater health, you should feel better too.  BUT FEELING BETTER IS NOT HEALTH.  Let me re-state it, feeling better is a product of good health, but good health is not a product of feeling better.  How many times have I had a patient going in for their first re-x-ray tell me “I know this is going to look great!”  I might ask why they think so, “because I have been feeling awesome, I know my spine has changed”.  And needless to say, their results speak differently.

My explanation is this – feeling good comes first as feeling bad came last.  You might think your problem started when you could feel it, but the reality is that it showed up way before.  Even in traumatic situations, you likely had some disposition going on before that time… or you had a trauma that you thought “was no big deal” or “didn’t hurt me” when in reality, that trauma was the predisposing incident.  No immediate pain, but damage to soft tissue resulted in slow degeneration of your nervous system.

Let me close up this discussion, and make sure you get why we started it in the first place.  IF an adjustment hurt ever time you received one, but it was a corrective adjustment, the reality would be that if it hurt 100 times more, and took 1,000 times more adjustments to get you to corrected, it would be worth it.  Now that being said, we should be able to identify reasons for pain, and work around it in most cases.  But not all.

So why did I write this?  To recap this theme, and I’ll be happy to do it again if we need to review… judging your health by how you feel is an immature way to assess.  Thinking, “I don’t need to rush in for my adjustment, I feel great”, is a fantastic way to keep yourself in a declining state of health.  Assuming that you can keep eating processed garbage, because you feel ok, is a lie you are telling yourself.  In the end, the goal is more important than the assessment of how you feel along the way.  Ask any elite athlete, and they will tell you a story of pain to get where they are.

With much hope for your health and blessings!  – Dr. E

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