Friday, March 5, 2010

Chiropractic Medicine and the Holistic Approach to Total Health

RI Holistic Medicine Chiropractor Dr. Stephen M. Estner found this article helpful concerning chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, and the holistic approach to healing the human body. The full article follows below.

Battered health care needs holistic approach

This week's column deals with the incredible connection between our minds and bodies.

Our official health care system grew through the 1900s. When penicillin and other drugs were developed, it was easy to test them to see how well they worked. Research reduced everything to the smallest particle, with no concern for the patient as a whole.

This approach to health is what philosophers term 'dualist', meaning that the mind and body are entirely separate and distinct. Most of us are well aware that this isn't reality.

All of the mainstream health problems that suck up the majority of our resources are preventable through lifestyle choices and natural care approaches that use the mind and body's healing powers.

The mind-body connection is one aspect of this.

So what does the research say? A recent issue of Spine Journal (Vol. 32, Jan. 2007) reported that lower back pain was directly linked to psychological factors. High stress at work, lower wages, little job satisfaction and depression all had a significant influence on the prevalence and prognosis on lower back pain.

Lower back pain is not a life threatening disease but is the number one cause of time off work. The economic impact is huge.

If back pain was so simple, then taking the wooden puppet's pills would work every time. It is not simple, as anyone suffering from back pain will tell you.

The second example is to do with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition where the patient reports multiple areas of pain in specific points over the body.

Because it is associated with difficulty in doing activities at home and at work, many fibromyalgia patients are not able to work. There are no drugs or pills that control the pain and the most help is obtained through multiple holistic approaches. Many people report benefit from both manual care and herbal supplements.

An August 2006 report in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Vol. 67) links fibromyalgia with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse, conditions which are mind related.

The third example is from the Journal of Internal Medicine (February 2007) showing that cynical distrust, chronic stress and depression are associated with higher levels of blood inflammation, which is directly related to cardiovascular diseases.

Finally, people suffering from lower back pain respond in a hypersensitive way to stress and emotional stimuli. (Clinical Journal of Pain,October 2006) The results showed that healthy subjects with no pain were better able to cope with and handle stresses, unlike those with back pain.

So what does this mean and why is this of interest to me as a chiropractor and you as a patient?

Our minds and bodies are connected in ways that the best researchers may never completely understand. Those of us who are called on to care for people are acutely aware that the whole person has to be considered for a good outcome.

Treating a patient for lower back pain, for example, without understanding the impact that the back pain is having on work tasks, playing with the kids and other activities of daily living is less than optimal care. It is these non-physical issues that all good caregivers must take into account in facilitating a patient's recovery.

The ounce of prevention - pound of cure analogy applies to most health conditions. We will have a better chance at saving our battered health care system by adopting a more holistic approach to illness, disease and preventing problems before they start.

Dr. Stephen Estner is a Chiropractor in Rhode Island. For more information or to schedule an appointment please visit:

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