Have you ever bought a new car? It smells great, looks nice, and it drives smooth. Since it was a new car, you knew it was trustworthy on the road. Of course, we all know that doesn't last forever. Time goes by, and that shiny new car will eventually need maintenance after some time on the road. Does that sound familiar? How do people relate to the wear and tear of automobiles?
More than a few years go by with that car until you start hearing a weird noise. It's a humming noise when your driving that you haven't heard before. Since it's a faint sound, you decide to ignore it, and just hope it goes away. A few more weeks go by, and the humming gets louder. You know if you don't take it to the mechanic soon, your car just might break down. You decide to keep pushing your car though because it's winter, the mechanic costs money, and you feel that you just don't have time for it. Then the day comes, the brakes lock up on your car, and you have no choice but to call AAA to get your car towed to the nearest mechanic. After the mechanic looks at your car, he tells you that your breaks and rotors are shot, as well as the tires that were wore out. He looks at you, "why didn't you take this in sooner? It's a mess!" It ended up costing more money than if you took it in initially hearing the noise.
How does this even relate to a human being? Can you guess? Here's a scenario that I've seen as a Massage Therapist. Kathy sits at a computer for 8-10 hours a day. One day she noticed her right hand got tingly near the end of her work day. Knowing it's the obvious stress of typing all day, she decided to ignore it. Besides, her hand wasn't tingly when she went home at the end of the day, so no big deal. Then she noticed that only after an hour or two into her shift, her right hand started to get all tingly again. She decided to just work through the tingly sensation, she would just shake her hand from time to time and it helped.
After a while, Kathy noticed that this tingly sensation kept getting worse, it even stayed with her when she went home. Kathy decided to just ignore this prickly, tingly sensation because she was still able to do the work, rather uncomfortably. Eventually though this sensation got worse. It got to the point where Kathy couldn't feel her right hand, it went completely numb. She tried to stretch, shake, move her fingers, but it actually became very painful. She was unable to do her work without a great deal of pain. It was time to finally set up a doctors appointment.
Kathy learned that she developed a condition which affects millions of office workers per year. The doctor called it carpal tunnel syndrome. The doctor informed her that the median nerve which provides many of the sensations to the hand was completely squeezed by the tight muscles surrounding it. He told her that it was so bad, that surgery was needed in order for her to get function back in her hand. Even though surgery took care of Kathy's carpal tunnel problem, her hand never felt the same again (surgeries can sometimes have undesirable side effects).
So as you can see from both scenarios, if you choose to ignore a problem long enough, the problem can become a lot worse. Kathy did start to develop carpal tunnel symptoms with her left hand, and she decided to not wait until it got worse. She decided to get chiropractic treatments and also booked a massage. After her massage, she couldn't believe how much better she felt. The tingling in her left hand was completely gone! I told her how to maintain with stretches, breaks, and techniques on how to take better care of herself. After a few more treatments, Kathy's left hand was back to 100%. Surgery was't needed.
As children we remember taking our tumbles, living without fear of consequence, and eating without thinking of weight gain. It seemed our bodies were invincible, and they always fixed themselves faster when we took our falls. I believe we take this mentality with us as we grow older. Our bodies used to repair themselves when we got that annoying ache! As we grow older, we need to re-educate ourselves that we need to be mindful of whats going on with our bodies. In most cases, simply ignoring a problem will make it worse, just like ignoring the problem with your aging car.
The person who regularly washes, waxes, cleans, changes the oil, and maintains their vehicles will get more mileage out of them than the person who does none of those things. Humans are the same way! If you watch more of what you put into your bodies, engage in physical activity, drink enough water, and monitor your bodies aches and pains (and do something about it), you just may live more comfortably! What happens when you get a flat tire? Your car is out of commission. What happens if you have any foot problems? Your out of commission. Of course theres always the spare tire. For humans that could be crutches or a wheelchair. But if you don't get that spare tire changed relatively soon, your just gonna break down again. For us humans that would be actively participating in physical therapy, listening to your doctor, any alternative therapies that are viable, and plenty of rest.
If it hasn't been obvious enough, this post is all about telling you to take better care of yourself! Just like a car needs maintenance, you do as well! Be a part of your health! If I had a nickel for every person I've met that just takes the pills to make the pain go away, I'd have enough money for a down payment for a car! (I really should start charging nickels every time I hear people talk about pain pills they are on). The same goes for cortisone shots, that may feel good 6-12 months, but trust me, more often than not, that pain comes right back. Just like putting duct tape on a loose bumper, it'll eventually come right off.....and their goes your bumper.
If you find yourself in that group of people who ignore their pain, just know you have options to get better! If it's serious pain your ignoring, go to your doctor! If its a chronic pain situation that doctors haven't been able to help with, try alternative care. Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Massage, Physical Therapies have all had great results with people over the years. Its up to you to get yourself to that metaphoric mechanic, before you break down.
*PS - Kathy is a real person with a different name for confidentiality reasons.