April 8, 2017
John Moore tried several prescriptions to treat his recurring, excruciating headaches. But each came with its own drawbacks.
The side effects of one prescription put him on the verge of tears; another made him feel like he “wanted to shoot myself; another made me want to shoot everybody else,” Moore said.
When he finally found one with side effects that he could manage, there was another problem — the doctor prescribed nine pills, but he was having about 20 headaches a month.
“I was in a bad spot,” Moore said. “I was trying to figure out what was going to be a really bad one and which ones I could live through.”
The 66-year-old pastor’s plight is far from uncommon: There were 25.3 million Americans who suffered from chronic pain in 2015, according to federal data.
But he found relief in an unexpected place: physical therapy. Moore mentioned his headaches during an appointment for some back trouble at Results Physiotherapy, and his therapist wanted to see if she could help.
He was skeptical but decided to give it a shot because he wanted relief.
The therapist found a muscle in his shoulder that was a trigger, and she began to work on that — at first three times a week. Moore did follow-up work at home, using a tennis ball in a sock to massage the same area.
“Sure enough she started working, she hit on this spot on my back and I could feel the muscle in my head,” Moore said.
Moore began to see improvement. Now he rarely gets the headaches; he’s still using the tennis ball and is careful about his posture when he uses the computer.
Increasingly, Americans are seeking a quicker fix for chronic pain. People want to feel better, but often the easiest way to feel immediate relief is a pill.
“We say that pain pills make you feel better, but they are not going to make you better,” said Tony Ueber, CEO of Results Physiotherapy.
It’s a disconnect that has repercussions on quality of life and demand for treatment, as well as expectations of comfort in life not held by previous generations. Moore said the trips to physical therapy, at times, were inconvenient but worth the effort.
Dr. Leah Cordovez, with Saint Thomas Health, tries to get patients to work on pain in their life. It’s not picking up a prescription at the pharmacy drive-thru. It’s sleep, it’s food, it’s movement.
Read more in the Tennessean.
Holly Fletcher covers health care for the Tennessean’s business desk, working to explain how the changing health care landscape will impact the people who need health care (everyone) and the businesses that provide care.