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The Time Required for Healing

By: Dr. Erin Denil, Chiropractor

From my last blog post, two healing principles that I would like to address are that healing takes time and that there are a time and a place for all healing modalities.  

Finding the right treatment option or alternative modality at the right time can make a difference.  The number of choices a person has can be overwhelming.  Some people will completely ignore a problem, hoping that it will go away.  Some people will try anything that they have ever heard could work to treat a condition.  Others will pick 1-3 things that they want to pursue at that moment.  More is not always better.  For my own life, I like to focus on changing one thing at a time.  I have been overzealous and have tried to change too many things at once.  I could not determine which of my efforts was making a positive change.  Sometimes my positive changes were masked by the negative effects of a different treatment modality.  Most of the time, with over-doing the changes in my life, I wouldn’t see any changes at all.  

It took time for a person to get to their current state of dis-ease or disease, depending where they are along a health continuum, and it will take time to get out of disease or dis-ease.  The body needs to rebalance itself.  An example is starting a goal to lose weight by changing diet or exercise habits.  The effects are cumulative and it is best to monitor progress along the way weekly and monthly toward the year-long goal.   Assessing daily will not give the most accurate picture of if goals are being achieved.  

The best method of treatment for the long-term will be to address the underlying causes of the disease in the body.  It may be crucial to put out an underlying fire first.  The best treatment modality to choose is based on the physical, chemical, emotional or spiritual cause of the condition.  The mind, body, and spirit may all have to be addressed at the same or different times for maximum results.  

One of the most utilized forms of alternative care is prayer.  Many people use their spiritual practice for guidance.  Lynne McTaggart’s book The Power of Eight is an excellent read for setting intentions on a positive outcome. Meditation is another great alternative treatment for the mind, body, and spirit. 

Chiropractic care, acupuncture, and functional medicine are some of the modalities that people will turn to for balancing their bodies.    Massage, Reiki or other energy work, supplements, yoga, intuitive healers or mediums are other common complementary and alternative healing modalities that a person considers along their journey toward health.  

It is good to have caution in thinking that diet and exercise are the only components needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Some people will over-train or not realize how their fitness regiment may negatively affect their bodies.  Too much exercise is harmful to the body as well.  

Western medicine has not excelled at the prevention of disease. Early detection of a disease process through screening methods is not the same as the prevention of disease.  Unfortunately, the only way to know if a particular treatment method prevents disease would be by taking a person who has a disease and then reverse it with the specific modality.  It is impossible to prove that a person would have gotten a specific disease or condition if they didn’t have the preventative treatment.  This is one of the reasons why preventative medicine or preventative modalities is difficult to assess in the scientific world.  

Western medicine excels at treating patients that are in a state of crisis or emergency.  Imagine the disease like a fire, the detectors (lab tests, etc) are all sounding alarms.  The fire needs to be put out and the alarms need to be shut off.  There will be a period of rebuild and repair that is necessary to get the body back in balance.  Alternative therapies work on restoring the balance to the body.  

If I were to experience a gunshot wound, I would like to be in the United States.  Emergency medical attention would be one of the best in the world. Surgically repairing damage from the injury and saving my life would be the ultimate goal. Preventing blood and other fluid loss would be life-saving. There is a time and a place for Western medicine for things like controlling high fevers, anaphylaxis, heart attacks, sepsis, and broken bones to name a few.  After the wound was healed, the body would need to repair and rebuild, in which I would choose other treatment modalities to assist my body in its efforts to heal.  

Preventing Type II diabetes is fairly simple with a quality diet and exercise.  We know this because people who have Type II diabetes have been able to reverse their this way.  Keep in mind that a person may still need to put out their diabetic fire before the diet and lifestyle changes have time to take effect.   

The time and place for every healing modality may differ from person to person. I am a chiropractor so I am going to look at the neuromusculoskeletal system, diet, exercise, and nutrition as possibilities to positive balance the patient’s body.   Each chiropractor will have a slightly different focus in their practice. One chiropractor may be good at chiropractic neurology.  Others may be good at functional medicine. Some may focus on spinal alignment.  

In my practice, I focus on the kinetic chain and all the affected tissues in the body and I treat using manual medicine techniques,  dietary and lifestyle changes. For example, the muscles, ligaments, bones, fascia, nervous system, circulatory system all have to communicate and coordinate body movements to have an optimal functioning joint.   I work with conditions relating to the tissues of the body.   I work from head to toe, which includes the whole spine, all the extremities, and viscera (internal organs).  I understand that a patient may trap emotions in their body as well, and we discuss options for improving this when the opportunity arises.   Appropriate referrals are given to the patient when necessary.  

There are limitations of matter and sometimes an injury or disease process advances beyond a point that alternative treatments can help.  Similar to the gun-shot wound example, it may be necessary to put out a fire before other treatments would be effective.  

The mind is powerful.  Instantaneous healing is possible.  It is not always probable due to all factors involved in the disease process.  For most tissues, it will take a minimum of between 6-8 weeks to truly heal from a minor sprain or strain. That time doubles or triples for more severe injuries or for people that smoke.  It takes longer for a smoker to heal because the smoke will deplete their oxygen levels.     All tissues heal better in the presence of oxygen.  Athletes, when getting appropriate rest, tend to heal faster than non-active people.  In this case, they have better oxygen delivery to the tissues.   Certain techniques can help decrease the healing time, but ultimately there will be residual damage in the tissues that need to be addressed. If a person keeps re-injuring a tissue, it will take more time to heal.  This goes for athletes that continue to push through an injury, too. 

People receive contradictory information about what is healthy or what is not healthy every day.  The best treatments for prevention will be ones that are interested in balancing the body.  Learning why a practitioner recommends what they do is a great way to begin the process of finding what treatment type is best for the individual. Finding a trusted healthcare professional to act as a coach or sounding board is another good option before beginning radical lifestyle changes.  

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