Why I Don’t Use Painkillers…Ever!

August 24, 2011 by Thorin Gault D.C.

Perhaps you should should consider it too.

I know what you are thinking! Another crazy chiropractor ranting about the dangers of medicine. Right? Wrong (this time).

While there certainly are dangers involved in even the occasional use of prescription or over the counter pain medication, there is another, more overlooked reason that I choose to completely forgo these medicines. This reason is also missed by almost the entire population, even those who are self professed “non pill poppers.”

Limping Around Disney

Over the years I have had numerous experiences that illustrate and highlight my position. Just a couple of weeks ago while on holiday at Disney World with my family I started to experience severe pain in my lower left leg. Fourteen years previous I had broken and dislocated the leg and ankle while playing rugby at chiropractic school. I had several surgeries with metal plates and screws implanted and later removed. The pain felt very similar to my experience so many years ago and it seemed to shift from one area of the old injury to another. As you know, Disney means walking and my symptoms were a significant annoyance.

In this case, why wouldn’t I just take some Advil? My belief (some would say hallucination) is that all symptoms have meaning and are instructive if you listen to them. Pain is a signal to be more aware, not less. While the pain was quite an irritation and had me limping, something told me everything was going to be OK.

After we returned from our holiday something really cool happened. My leg and ankle started to feel like they needed to stretch. As I moved it around I could literally feel the structure of my foot, leg and ankle shift. Several audible “clunks” occurred along with the sensation of my scarred connective tissue releasing. The resulting feeling was bliss! This sequence repeated a few times over the next few days and has resulted in the restricted movement in that leg almost returning to normal.

Would this have happened had I numbed myself with painkillers? While I am not sure, I doubt it. The pain was part of the process that led to the increased function of my body. The pain guided me to my healing. Had I shot the messenger the message would have been lost – perhaps forever.

This is not the only experience I have had like this. On one occasion I was diagnosed (at a prestigious orthopaedic clinic) with a torn hamstring and advised to rest and rehabilitate it for 10 weeks. Ten DAYS later I was playing baseball and running full speed with restored flexibility in that hamstring (another lingering result of the broken leg). On another occasion I “pulled” my groin on a Thursday evening and played in a ball tournament starting Saturday morning – again with restored mobility. In both cases I stayed away from painkillers and listened to my body. What seemed like a crisis was actually a powerful healing event.

The Toes Knows!

About a month ago, I broke my fourth toe. It REALLY hurt to the point that it was difficult to entrain (gasping in pain followed by nausea)! The toe was black and twice its normal size. Two days after the injury while limping around the entrainment room my attention was brought to the toe, I moved it slightly, which was followed by a very cool and strange sensation. I felt the end of my toe literally slide to the left and “thunk” back into place. There was instant and complete relief from the pain and by the next day the swelling was all but gone.

My guess is that we all have access to these healing events. Unfortunately, most people do not trust their bodies enough to let them happen. Network care helps people in pain not by numbing or “fixing” them, but by bringing more awareness to what is happening in their bodies. The benefit to this is we actually learn from our challenges instead of moving further into a stupor. The same is true of emotional, mental and existential pain.

The next time you are faced with pain I invite you to tune in as opposed to tuning out. Despite still being active in athletics I have taken only 1 pain pill (also a mistake I learned from, but that is for another article) since I had my wisdom teeth removed 11 years ago. You can do it too. Who knows to what heights your body will guide you.

“The concept of total wellness recognizes that our every thought, word, and behavior affects our greater health and well-being. And we, in turn, are affected not only emotionally but also physically and spiritually.” Greg Anderson


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