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When you are dealing with persistent musculoskeletal pain, choosing a provider is a big decision. You may wonder if you should pursue treatment at a chiropractic or physical therapy clinic.

For individuals with chronic musculoskeletal pain, an integrated clinic employing pain specialists from different disciplines is the best choice. In this article, we will explain the differences between a solo chiropractic clinic or physical therapy office and an integrated pain clinic and why they matter.

What Kinds of Clinics Treat Pain?

If you google treatment for back pain in your area, you’ll most likely see a list of clinics that employ only chiropractors and some that only employ physical therapists.

Most chiropractor-only clinics offer spinal adjustment as the mainstay of their treatment plans. Chiropractors are trained to manipulate the spine to relieve pain and balance the nervous system. Spinal adjustment and related services, like spinal decompression therapy, are proven to relieve back pain caused by herniated or bulging discs, and muscle strains and sprains. Chiropractors also assign stretches and exercises for the patient to do at home to complement in-office treatment. Chiropractic care is helpful for acute injuries and some types of chronic pain.

Physical therapists focus on movement and use stretches and exercise to assist patients recovering from an injury or dealing with chronic pain. They use treatments that address soft tissue and joint problems.

The mechanisms that cause chronic pain are complex. Though chiropractic care and physical therapy may be useful on their own for many patients, studies show that chronic pain patients have better healing outcomes when they utilize more than one type of provider. Simultaneous treatments provided by chiropractors, physical therapists, and other medical professionals allow for a multifaceted approach to chronic pain treatment.

What Is An Integrated Pain Clinic?

An integrated pain clinic employs a variety of specialists who treat various aspects of chronic pain. They may offer chiropractic care alongside other specialties like sports medicine, physical therapy, and nursing services. 

Integrated clinics are based on research that shows improved patient outcomes when providers coordinate care as a team. Patients at this type of clinic receive a treatment plan that includes care from all the specialties relevant to their condition. These providers will communicate with each other to tailor the plan to the patient’s needs as their treatment progresses. 

Since more than one body system often causes chronic pain, receiving care from a range of specialists increases effectiveness. If a patient’s pain is caused by a stalled healing process, trigger points, and an overactive nerve root, these issues can all be addressed under one roof at an integrated pain clinic.

What Kinds of Patients Should Consider a Solo Practice Clinic Vs. An Integrated Pain Clinic?

Some back and joint pain is easily relieved with a few visits to one type of provider. If you move wrong and suddenly can’t move at all, a trip to your chiropractor will help speed your recovery. Getting treatment right away can prevent these sorts of injuries from causing chronic pain. Seeing a chiropractor at an integrated clinic, rather than a solo practice, is beneficial, as he can recommend complementary treatments from other providers to further reduce your pain and healing time.

Patients dealing with pain that has lasted longer than three months should consider an integrated pain clinic. These patients are often dealing with more complex pain mechanisms that need to be addressed through multifaceted treatment, such as injections, or physical therapy. An integrated pain clinic provides you with a team of experts to pinpoint the cause of your pain and create a comprehensive plan for addressing it. Chiropractic care or physical therapy may be part of that plan, but not the only treatment. 

What Treatments Work Best For Chronic Pain?

When you seek treatment at an integrated pain clinic, you benefit from treatments provided by a variety of experts. Chiropractors at these clinics offer spinal decompression therapy, and several kinds of spinal adjustment. Physical therapists can help you loosen tight soft tissues and strengthen weak areas. 

People struggling with chronic pain who can’t have more cortisone shots often find relief with platelet-rich plasma injections (PRP). Integrated pain clinics offer access to this type of medical care, alongside other treatments. PRP involves injecting platelets from the patient’s blood into an injured area. The platelets send chemical signals that call healing cells to the site. The net result is reduced inflammation and pain. 

Besides treating specific pain points, your provider should be able to provide treatments that rehabilitate the body and prevent future injury. Physical therapy builds strength and flexibility and can correct imbalances that contribute to pain. 

A well-rounded treatment plan for chronic low back pain may include spinal decompression therapy, injections, and physical therapy. These treatments will alleviate pain and encourage healing. They will also correct posture and build strength to prevent future flareups or reinjury.

What About Failed Back Surgery Patients?

Many chronic pain sufferers have undergone several treatments, including surgeries, without finding relief. These patients typically have conditions that don’t appear well on imaging and therefore are challenging to address with surgery.

We know that dealing with failed surgeries and chronic pain can be frustrating and demoralizing, but there is hope. Studies show that many patients in this situation find relief through treatments like spinal decompression therapy and PRP injections. People who’ve had back surgery but don’t have metal implants or fusions are usually candidates for spinal decompression therapy. Patients with fusions or implants can still benefit from other treatments.

Spinal decompression therapy uses computerized traction to gently stretch the spine. It can desensitize nerves, increase circulation and relieve inflammation and swelling. 

PRP injections can heal unseen issues like stalled healing and irritated nerve roots. PRP has a much lower risk of side effects than cortisone, and there’s no limit on how many shots you can safely receive per year. 

Integrated Pain Clinics in Houston

Vanguard Spine & Sport is an integrated pain clinic with two Houston locations. We provide specialized care for people struggling with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Our team of medical providers, physical therapists, and chiropractors will work together to treat all the causes of your pain. Schedule a consultation today to get your personalized treatment plan.