What Does the VA’s Whole Health Model Say About the Future of Chronic Pain Treatment?

Chronic pain doesn’t get as much attention as some high-profile diseases, but it affects more than 50 million Americans every year according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.) Chronic pain can have impact far beyond the physical pain it causes, impacting your ability to work, sleep, and enjoy personal time with your family and friends.

Whole Health is a new initiative from the VA that looks at chronic pain in a holistic way. By understanding the impact that chronic pain can have, it hopes to provide much-needed relief – and may point the way forward for others in the medical field to treat chronic pain.

What is the Whole Health Model?

The goal of the Whole Health Model is to evaluate each patient and provide a “personalized and patient-driven experience” that’s designed to help an individual coping with chronic pain to live the best, most productive life possible.

Some of the services that Whole Health includes are:

  • Yoga classes
  • Tai chi classes
  • Diet and nutrition classes
  • Mindfulness classes
  • Acupuncture treatments
  • Spinal manipulation

In other words, the primary goal is to provide non-pharmaceutical and non-invasive ways for patients to manage their pain.

The VA offers group classes that encourage congregation and socialization, both of which can help people cope with chronic pain. There’s evidence to show that pain is exacerbated by loneliness and depression.

How Can Whole Health Help Non-Veterans?

While the Whole Health Model is specifically for United States military veterans, the program itself offers a roadmap for healthcare professionals who treat chronic pain.

In the world of chiropractic, the idea of finding non-pharmacological and non-surgical ways of reducing and managing chronic pain is not new. In fact, it’s the driving philosophy behind what we do.

However, some mainstream physicians still default to prescribing pain medication and recommending surgery instead of attempting less invasive methods of pain management first.

The hope is that the doctors in the VA who are in a position to see the beneficial effects of Yoga, tai chi, mindfulness training, and spinal manipulations will spread the word to their colleagues outside of the VA. If they do, then the Whole Health Model could become the gold standard for how we treat chronic pain going forward.

Because chronic pain affects so many people in the United States and around the world, it’s essential that we find effective ways to treat it. That’s especially true when you consider how the over-prescription of opioid pain medications have led to the huge opioid addiction problem that is currently impacting many people around the country. Ultimately, pain medicine only treats the symptom of pain without addressing the underlying issues causing it.

Conclusion

The VA’s Whole Health program offers hope to military veterans who need practical, non-invasive methods to manage their physical pain. In the future, it may also provide guidance to doctors operating outside the VA who are struggling to find ways to help their patients who live with chronic pain every day.

20 Simple Ways to Be a Smart Chiropractic Patient

If you live with chronic pain and you’re considering making your very first chiropractic appointment, you might be wondering about the best way to choose a chiropractor. You might also be thinking about what questions you should ask to help you make the most of your chiropractic treatments.

We’re here to help. Here are 20 things you can do, both before and during your first appointment.

How to Find a Chiropractor in 6 Steps

The first step in seeking chiropractic treatment is finding a qualified chiropractor near you. Here are some ways you can find someone who’ll be able to help you.

Ask your friends, family, and coworkers for recommendations. You may be surprised by how many people you know have a chiropractor to recommend. Write down the names. It’s always a good idea to get several recommendations, so you have options available to you.

  1. Ask your doctor for a recommendation or an opinion. Some MDs have old-fashioned ideas about chiropractic, but your doctor may have a recommendation. If not, you can still ask for an opinion of any chiropractor you’re considering. Even if your doctor is vague, you can learn a lot from their body language and tone.
  2. Google all potential chiropractors. You can learn a lot from a simple Google search. For example, you can find patient reviews and complaints as well as information about what treatments they offer and where their practice is located. Pay attention to negative reviews and whether the chiropractor or a staff member responded to resolve the patient’s issue. You don’t want an unresponsive chiropractor.
  3. Check to make sure that your chiropractor is licensed by the state where you live. Most states have rigorous licensing requirements that include continuing education and ethics guidelines.
  4. Look up your chiropractor’s professional certifications. http://www.cce-usa.org/
  5. Finally, check to see if there have been any complaints made against your chiropractor.

These six steps can help you narrow down your choices and find a qualified, compassionate chiropractor in your area.

14 Questions to Ask Your Chiropractor

Both when you call to make an appointment and when you’re face-to-face with your chiropractor, it’s essential to ask questions to ascertain the kind of treatment you’ll be getting and what qualifications the chiropractor has to treat your condition effectively.

  1. Do you offer a free consultation? Many chiropractors offer a free initial consultation, so you can ask questions and get a feeling for their practice and personality. You may choose a chiropractor who doesn’t offer this service, but it’s a nice benefit and a good way to narrow your choices.
  2. What post-graduate degrees and training do you have? Chiropractors are not medical doctors, but they do receive extensive training. You should choose a doctor who has a commitment to ongoing education. Someone with at least one graduate degree is preferable to someone who has only minimal training.
  3. How often have you treated people with my condition? Chronic pain has many causes. It’s always a good idea to find out how much experience a chiropractor has treating people with your condition. Some doctors have extensive experience with sports injuries but only minimal experience with other injuries.
  4. What treatments do you commonly use for people with my condition? Even among chiropractors, opinions may differ on which treatments and solutions are the most effective. Asking this question allows you to get a feeling for how a particular chiropractor would approach treating your pain.
  5. Do you prefer forceful or gentle manipulation? Spinal manipulations are a common form of chiropractic treatment. Some doctors use a forceful technique that produces the “crack” that many of us associate with chiropractic treatments, while others prefer a gentler approach. This question will ensure that you know what to expect.
  6. Will you work with me to develop a treatment plan that I’m comfortable with? Really what you’re asking here is if the doctor will respect your wishes about treatment. For example, a chiropractor may prefer gentle manipulation, but if you have a specific request, you want to make sure that they’ll accommodate it before you pay for their services.
  7. How much experience do you have with this technique? If a chiropractor recommends a specific technique, ask how often they’ve done it. There are a lot of techniques out there and you don’t want a chiropractor to be learning a new technique at your expense.
  8. How long will my treatment last? A good chiropractor should be able to give you an estimate of how long it will take for you to complete treatment. But, be wary of any doctor who insists on sticking to a rigid timetable. Your body is unique, and your treatment plan should be, too.
  9. Do you do X-rays in your office when necessary? In many cases, X-rays are not necessary for chiropractic treatment. You should avoid any doctor that automatically takes an X-ray of every patient.
  10. How much will my treatment cost? It’s always a good idea to get an estimate of how much your treatment will cost. Because the treatment plan won’t be carved in stone, your costs may not be either. However, you should be able to get an idea of your total cost before you start.
  11. How does billing work? A good chiropractor’s office will have a simple billing system and the ability to work with your insurance company as needed to facilitate payments.
  12. What can I do to give my treatment the best possible chance of working? A truly individualized plan will look at everything from your exercise routine to your sleeping position and your diet to maximize your chances of success.
  13. Does your practice offer other services? Some chiropractic practices offer additional, related surgeries like massage therapy, acupuncture, and physical therapy, and nutritional counseling. If you think these things may be useful to you, then you may want to choose a practice that offers them.
  14. 20. Will you refer me to a specialist if necessary? The final question to ask is whether the chiropractor can recognize when a problem is too complex or serious for them to handle alone.

Just as your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist, your chiropractor should be willing and ready to do the same thing if it is necessary.

Asking these questions will help you get a feel for the chiropractor you are considering. Pay attention to the doctor’s tone, demeanor, and words.

Conclusion

The 20 steps we’ve outlined here will help you identify and choose a professional and qualified chiropractor to help you manage your chronic pain and live your best, most productive life.

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