Guest Column: How to deal with pain

It can be there all the time, or just some of the time. You dread its unwelcome companionship, especially since you cannot control when it shows up. It’s like someone takes your schedule and erases it, dictating what you can and cannot do. “No golfing today, no exercise today, no getting out of bed for you today!” it might be saying. You may be using conservative means to correct the reasons for the pain, such as chiropractic or nutrition, or you may be using alternative means, such as drugs and surgery. You may even be using a remedy I heard about from a resident of the hills of Kentucky—whiskey and pokeweed. Whatever you use, here is some new information from the University of Michigan that is shocking…

“Tylenol and other products containing acetaminophen account for a staggering 40 to 50 percent of all acute liver failure cases each year in the USA,” says Robert J. Fontana, M.D., and fellow researchers. A multi-center study that Dr. Fontana and the University of Michigan Health System recently participated in indicated that about half of acetaminophen overdoses that resulted in liver failure were unintentional.

Since the maximum daily dose is 4,000 milligrams per day, (eight tablets), and many prescription and non-prescription drugs include acetaminophen, it is possible to accidentally overdose. What happens when you overdose? “Exceeding that dosage could lead to inadvertent liver or kidney damage,” Dr. Fontana says. Compounding the problem is the fact that some people have a regular nightcap of a glass of sherry or some other alcoholic beverage. Both of these stressors to the liver, other research shows, can seriously damage the liver and cause complete failure.

What can a person do?

A sensible first step is to recognize you are in pain and that you are doing something about it, whether you know it or not. Are you trying to hide it under drugs or pass it off as an inevitable sign of “old age”? Are you trying to face it head on and discover the underlying cause? Simple neurologic tests that any well-trained doctor can do will often reveal there is a bone out of place. If it is, your body won’t work right, and something will hurt somewhere. If it isn’t, maybe a different type of test, such as the MRI, will reveal an abnormality with soft tissue that requires surgical intervention. One study done at a pain center showed that patients favored the Alexander Technique over every other modality as a way to manage pain. The Alexander Technique is primarily an educational approach that has far-reaching therapeutic benefits. It can help actors, musicians and speakers of all kinds work with greater ease. It can even help people suffering with specific conditions to better cope.

If you are in pain, avoid becoming a statistic. Ask yourself this question: “Am I (or my doctor) sure we’ve found the underlying cause?” To be absolutely sure, check with a chiropractor to find out if there is a bone out of place. If it is, only the chiropractor is trained to safely correct this problem.

Dr. Philip Schalow is owner of 1st Step Chiropractic, 398-4500, Rockford’s only center for NUCCA upper cervical chiropractic. He is also a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique.

From the Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2007, issue

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