By Drew Ebel, DC
You accidentally put your hand on the stove before its cooled off. Ouch! In less than one second, you’re able to sense the pain of searing tissue and pull you had off the stove before further damage can be done to your poor hand. Even though your hand is still in excruciating pain, and you’re upset that you just did that, there is still a very important question to ask yourself. Is that pain you’re experiencing a good thing or a bad thing? Had you not experienced that pain immediately after placing your hand on the stove, the extreme heat would have continued to melt your flesh away until it had reached the bones in your hand. The pain protected you initially, and the lingering pain prevents you from adding any additional stress to the healing wound. Pain is one of many symptoms that HELP our bodies to adapt to and survive the day to day stressors we place on it.
Signs and symptoms are similar entities but are not entirely the same. A sign is something that can be detected by someone else. Often times your doctor checks your vital signs, which might include your temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Other signs might be found in your blood, such as high cholesterol or HbA1c, cancer cells, or decreased vitamin D levels. Symptoms, on the other hand, are things that individuals experience – such as the pain described above. Other symptoms might be fatigue, restlessness, anxiety, dizziness, chills, or thirst. They are both a part of our bodies communication system. They express the current state or condition of our bodies – similar to the way the dashboard in your vehicle tells you the speed, oil pressure and amount of fuel left. Just as we appreciate our gas gauge when it tells us that we are about to run out of fuel, we should appreciate all the signs and symptoms our bodies use to tell us when something is going wrong – even when it comes to pain.
We need to place more focus on finding the cause for our bodies signs and symptoms verses just trying to treat them. Thinking back to the hand on the stove analogy, would you ever consider just taking a pain medication or getting a shot to mask the pain, thus allowing you to tolerate keeping your hand on the stove longer? Of course not, that would be ridiculous! Signs and symptoms are meant to be investigated, not treated. Yet millions of people treat their signs and symptoms every single day for knee pain, back pain, neck pain, etc. When you have pain in your back, there is a reason for it being there! Your body is trying to tell you that something is not right and needs to be corrected. Again, pain (regardless of where it is occurring) results in order to protect us. It tells us to remove the current stressor and/or prevents us from adding additional stress on that muscle, bone, joint, bruise, chest, abdomen, or any other part of the body. We must address the cause, rather than just mask the body’s signs and symptoms.
This idea goes much further than just pain. If your blood work comes back saying you have high cholesterol, that is just another sign – it is not a primary disease. In fact, our bodies actually produce additional cholesterol in our bodies in response to other problems. Cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D formation and most sex hormones. It is found in virtually every cell in our bodies, and has incredibly important functions such as antiviral activity, providing satiety, and may even be involved in cancer prevention. Thus, high cholesterol is merely a sign that should be investigated further to find the root cause of it being high. Yet, the current approach to high cholesterol is to provide medications that mask this vitally important sign.
The human body is extremely intelligent. We must respect this profound intelligence, and start to actually listen to our bodies, rather than just ignoring or masking all the signs and symptoms they give us. This is a concept the chiropractic profession has known for years. Chiropractic aims at finding the physical, chemical, and/or emotional stressors that are causing your body to express itself the way it is. If you are experiencing any troubling signs or symptoms, please don’t be afraid to find someone that will actually look for the causes. If you’re not sure about your signs and symptoms, a Wellness Score is comprehensive exam done in many offices throughout the country, including ours, in order to visually see which of your signs and symptoms are problematic and which are not. Give our team a call today if you’re experiencing signs and symptoms! We’d love to help find the cause of these signs and symptoms and get your body on track to wellness!