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For more information about chiropractic treatment, contact:

John Ballam, DC

201 Davis Grove Circle, #106
Cary, NC 27519
Telephone: (919) 363-2277

The False Security of OTC Relief

Back pain, neck pain, and headaches top the list of symptoms that chiropractic care can help, according to Dr. John Ballam of Legacy Chiropractic in Cary.

The full-spine, panoramic X-ray, explains Dr. Ballam, reveals not only pathology and fractures, but allows for a comprehensive evaluation of structure, posture, and alignment.

“And those are also among the most common complaints that drive people to use over-the-counter pain medication,” he notes. “And that’s a concern. Because, while it’s comforting, OTC pain relief doesn’t equate to healing or even regaining function. You don’t get back pain because you’re deficient in Tylenol or Advil.”

Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication may help temporarily, he says, “But they don’t address the source of the pain. So, I always remind my patients that, although they may—understandably—reach for OTC relief when they’re in pain, they should not then ignore the symptom. Pain is actually a blessing in disguise, alerting you that something is not right,” he explains. “You can mask it or—a better choice—you can fix the underlying issue.”

Furthermore, notes Dr. Ballam, when people ignore or cover up pain, they risk allowing the underlying problem to grow. And over-use of OTC medications can pose additional potential risks, such as digestive side effects with ibuprofen, or liver issues with acetaminophen. “There’s always a price,” he says, “and the more frequently you take the medications, the greater the chance the side effects will catch up to you.”

First-Aid that Helps

Symptoms do often require immediate attention, acknowledges Dr. Ballam. “And while I encourage patients to seek help in identifying the source of their pain, I also understand the importance of getting immediate relief. Three things I recommend for do-it-yourself relief,” he says, “are ice, hydration, and gentle movement. The ice helps reduce inflammation and swelling, along with hydration, and walking can help move all the joints of the spine.

“I don’t, however, advise ‘do-it-yourself chiropractic’ adjustments,” he says. “The Internet is a wonderful resource, and extremely helpful in educating patients. But attempting to self-adjust by following an on-line video is not a good idea, and is likely to create much more complicated problems. Remember that each person’s situation is unique. The source of pain might be in any part of the spine—and not necessarily where it hurts most. Any adjustment must be based on an understanding of exactly what the problem is; and that is why we test so carefully.”

Getting to Root Cause

Dr. Ballam always aims to find the root cause of issues and try to correct or at least stabilize them. “Still,” he says, “my first steps focus on relief. If someone comes in with such severe neck pain that they can’t look over their shoulder, for example, an adjustment can often provide almost immediate relief—often more quickly than over-the-counter pills. Having relieved the immediate pain, we can then do the testing and evaluation needed to identify the structural or mechanical misalignments causing the problem, which will allow for healing to begin.”

And, he notes, “I find that, for the majority of the patients who come to me with sudden, severe pain, the source of the problem is much more complicated. They may think the pain is the result of a sudden injury, say, from shoveling snow. But most back issues and bulging disc problems result from a series of gradual, cumulative micro-traumas—a process that took many years to reach a crisis level.”

The Gonstead Method:
Pinpointing the Source of the Pain

Whether it’s a seemingly acute issue or a chronic problem, Dr. Ballam can help get to the root cause, using a precise chiropractic approach called the Gonstead method.

“Gonstead chiropractic,” he explains, “is a process of extensive biomechanical testing to determine the presence and intensity of the spinal abnormalities—which are the source of often disabling pain.

Free Posture Assessment

“A posture assessment,” says Dr. Ballam, “is an invaluable tool in chiropractic care. It provides a baseline against which to evaluate future problems. That is why,” he says, “we offer a free digital pos-ture assessment and free consulta-tion to assess imbalances and risks.”

To schedule a free initial consultation and posture assessment, call:
(919) 363-2277.

“The Gonstead method uses five criteria for evaluation. First, I palpate the spine in two ways; one is a static palpitation—which is feeling the spine at rest. The second is palpating the spine in motion as the patient bends in various ways. Next is observation and measurement of the posture. For this I use a tool on an iPad that takes two images of the spine and allows me to overlay lines and take specific measurements to help determine areas of stress. A tool called a nervoscope follows, which allows me to assess for inflammation in the spine. Lastly, I will take a full-spine X-ray.”

By offering more of a panoramic view, the full-spine X-ray helps Dr. Ballam evaluate structure, posture, and alignment—allowing him to see the relationships between body parts and trace alignments—and misalignments— from top to bottom. “This comprehensive view,” he explains, “might reveal, for example, that a patient’s neck pain arises from a painless hip or lower-back misalignment. Such small shifts at the foundation can have ripple effects up the spine, but without a thorough assessment, they might remain invisible issues.”

Relief that Lasts

Dr. Ballam repeats the testing and assessment to track patients’ progress as they move through the different care stages: pain relief, correction, and maintenance.

“Pain relief is the first step,” he says, “and it often happens quickly, sometimes in just one visit. In the correction stage, we work to shift the posture and the overall shape and curve of the spine, properly aligning it for optimal biomechanical function. Stage three—maintenance—is where we look for the least amount of maintenance care necessary to keep the spine looking and feeling good. For some patients, that means monthly visits, or quarterly check-ins.

“The cool thing about the Gonstead method,” he adds, “is that it’s really designed to show me not only when to adjust you, but also when not to adjust you.”

Dr. Ballam offers encouragement to patients dealing with back or neck pain. “Relief—and correction—can be achieved,” he assures them. But he also cautions them not to delay treatment. “Way too often, I hear my patients say: I wish I had done this sooner.”