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6 Things I'd Like You To Know Before You Proceed

Hedd Piper BSc DC MRCC, Director - Clinig Corff Ystwyth


1. I am a chiropractor but I do not use manipulation that much...  I discovered many years ago that any manipulation has unpredictable effects on back problems.  Sometimes it works beautifully.  In some cases it's ineffective and sometimes it makes things worse.  Only seeing good results some of the time led me to expand my approach.

This is important to you at this stage of your 'journey'.  You have options available to you about who you would like to work with to help you with pain.  If you feel that value for money is represented by how long and how thoroughly someone works on your body (be it massage, needling, zapping, prodding, taping, crunching or whatever) then that is absolutely fine - it just isn't what I do.  If you are just looking for a casual one-off appointment for a bit of a pop and a crack and 'see how it goes' then that is also absolutely fine - it's just not what I do.

2. I cannot put your spine into alignment, put any bones back in place or put your disc back in...  Actually, nobody can regardless of what they tell you.  This is because these are out dated explanations of how back pain treatments work which have been thoroughly disproved.  Despite amazing advances in science and technology we still cannot figure out why manual therapy sometimes helps.  The closest we can get to an explanation is that it creates relaxation in the body part which hurts, meaning you can get a temporary reduction in symptoms.  That is why I might still use it with you, but it won't be the focal point of your visits.  If it doesn't give you immediate and dramatic relief, that's OK because there are other things we will be working on to help you - as well as allowing time to do it's thing!  If some treatment helps I see that as a bonus.

3.  I don't know what I'll be doing with you until we meet and get to the bottom of your case...  But after listening to what's bothering you and trying to understand what's going on I'll go through as many tests as I can draw on to check that there doesn't seem to be anything nasty causing your pain.  After that I'll want to see how you are moving and what kind of movements are irritating you and how you react to pain.  I'll then want to explain this all to you in the hope that I give you ownership of the problem.  We might then work on moving differently, breathing differently, giving you hints and tips on what you can do to ease the pain and increase mobility.  I'll want to answer your questions about the problem and give you a plan of what is likely to lay ahead of you.  It might help for me to use some of those manual therapy techniques to help desensitise your sore muscles and use some manipulation to help you feel a bit more mobile.  It might be that the type of problem you have tells me to use different approaches that seem to be helpful (one technique technically known as McKenzie, another one is Neurodynamics). 

If it helps, it might be useful to think of me as having a toolbox full of goodies that we can select from, depending on the issue in front of us.  To only use manipulation brings to mind the phrase 'When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail'.

4. I am interested in how stressed you are and what you believe is causing your pain - but I know your pain is real and never 'all in your head'... Because we know that back pain is not explained by the old fashioned 'bone out of place' theory, we must look at things differently to explain pain.  We know that stress doesn't cause pain - but it does contribute hugely to a slower recovery.  Being helped to get on top of stress and how it affects you may also give you some contol over pain and so it seems sensible to me that we address it.

Having unhelpful ideas that you have damage is also seen as a contributor to a painful experience and so re-framing what is happening in your body is high on my priority list.

5.  I know how long it really takes to overcome pain (and it's longer than you think) - but I know we can all adapt and all pain can change... There is some seemingly pessimistic research that consistently shows that around 80% of adults report having regular bouts of back pain throughout their lives to some degree.  Further research then shows that of those adults who get back pain, the chances of having future episodes of pain is 100%.  Figures show that most cases of back pain are self limiting - meaning they settle down regardless of what you do - and that episodes of back pain may take 12 weeks to settle, and that would be quite normal.  

It makes sense to me that we can call back pain the 'common cold of the orthopaedic world'.  We all get it, it's not nice - but it's rarely anything to change your life about.

The key to getting over a pain flare seems to be reassurance that you are not damaged and getting going again sensibly.  I can help you with both of these.

6. It matters to me that I can help you..  I'm passionate about what I do.  My down time is filled with reading about pain and psychology; listening to podcasts about pain and human behaviour; watching online seminars about pain and pain management; I teach the final year students at The Welsh Institute of Chiropractic about looking after their patients; in normal times I travel around the UK attending conferences about pain and counselling; I have run seminars at the clinic and at The University of South Wales to fellow chiropractors and to health care professionals about pain, I have written booklets about pain. 


You get the idea. 


The point being is that I am excited about my ability to help you overcome your painful problem.  The purpose of this page is to try and encourage you to work with me with patience and an open mind.