It’s a rite of passage for red-blooded American males: suffer some old sports injury in high school and endure the pain and limitations for the rest of your life.
Everyone does it, right?
We tell ourselves it’s not a big deal, it isn’t hampering our lives. We might not even feel any pain.
We’ll get it fixed when it gets bad.
Here’s the problem: all of that is wrong.
You’re living the boiled frog syndrome. You know the metaphor of the boiling frog: throw a frog into boiling water and it will leap out. Put it in warm water and slowly turn up the heat and the frog will get boiled. It won’t notice the gradual change in conditions until it’s too late.
Our bodies do the same thing. The bum knee, bad back, compromised shoulder – whatever it is, your body learns to accommodate it. There is no pain signal because your body has adapted. If it had to alert you to this chronic problem you would be in pain constantly.
So your body backs off. It adjusts. Maybe you unconsciously hold your arm a little lower when you throw a ball, or swing a hammer, or lift your kids. Maybe you unknowingly lean on the other leg a bit when you walk or run.
It’s very likely that you’re damaging the surrounding soft tissue as it takes on a job it wasn’t made for. When one part of your body picks up the slack for the injured area, other muscles, ligaments and tendons have to do work they weren’t designed to do.
Guess what happens: you start hurting other things. Eventually, your hip hurts. You go to the doctor, but he can’t find anything wrong with your hip. That’s because something is wrong with your knee, but that’s not where the doctor is looking. You didn’t complain about your knee.
So he gives you medications to mask the pain. But it doesn’t alleviate the core problem – you have a damaged knee. It’s not going to get better just because you turned down the volume on your pain. That’s like turning up the car radio when the engine starts rattling.
So pretty soon you’ll have a damaged hip too.
Over time – decades of abuse – numerous structures will begin breaking down from misuse. An x-ray will show that you have the knee of an 80-year-old.
Eventually you go to a chiropractor or a physical therapist or a massage therapist or an acupuncturist to help with the pain. During therapy you feel better, because the professional practitioner working with you has the solution to one part of your problem. Then you go home and the knee starts barking again.
Each of those professionals has a tool for a certain job. But after decades of abuse, your knee, hip, quadriceps muscles and lumbar spine are all compromised.
You don’t need a chiropractor or a physical therapist or a massage therapist or an acupuncturist.
You need them all.
The chiropractor can help you realign your spine for proper functioning of these muscles and joints. The PT can help you build strength and flexibility. The massage therapist can help improve blood flow to the affected areas. The acupuncturist can reduce the inflammation and pain.
None of them can do all of that.
Okay, that’s great. Just know that there is a point at which none of them can help you. There is a point of no return. The structures are so damaged there is nothing any of them can do for you.
And that’s about the time you finally break down and see them.
So if you have an old sports injury, get it fixed earlier rather than later. Just because there’s no pain doesn’t mean it’s not hurting you.