This week we look at the 4th aspect of why our treatment at YAPCHANKOR for moderate to severe chronic pain is different from other options available on the market. This aspect has been a defining feature or outcome of our treatment since the start of the history of our treatment. It is our focus on achieving long term recovery for the patient, instead of temporarily relieving the pain symptoms, that we will expound on here.

If you or someone you know have experienced severe chronic pain before, you’ll know that going to the doctor means getting a whole lot of painkiller prescriptions. Modern medicine’s painkilling drugs – opiods, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like COX-2 inhibitors, or corticosteroids mostly work by blocking pain signals to the brain, thereby making the patient imagine that the pain isn’t really there, or by reducing the inflammation. In most chronic conditions, the effect of these drugs are merely temporary, and so will require regular prescriptions until the underlying condition is resolved, which unfortunately, isn’t really the focus of the medications prescribed.  Note that here we discuss only musculoskeletal conditions, not pain due to neurological problems or cancer. There are also serious pros and cons to taking modern painkillers – opiods are highly addictive and prone to abuse, NSAIDs can cause stomach ulcers and bleeding, COX-2 inhibitors, a class of NSAIDs can cause cardiovascular problems like heart attacks.

Another option for people suffering from severe chronic musculoskeletal pain in modern medicine is physiotherapy. Here patients suffering from conditions like slipped discs, mechanical back pain, arthritic knees or sports injuries will perform a series of exercises or manual manipulations under the guidance of a physiotherapist. Typically, each physiotherapy session will last 30 minutes to 1 hour, and include a host of different ‘modalities’ like trigger point massage, ultrasound therapy, TENs therapy, manual exercises on various equipments like parallel bars or monkey bars. Some will also include the use of more advanced equipments like focused laser therapy or Shockwave therapy. Generally, physiotherapy is a good way to treat musculoskeletal pain, in fact we employ physiotherapists at our treatment centres too. However, the process of recovery is a very slow one – for chronic pain, a patient is usually expected to attend twice weekly physiotherapy sessions over a period of 6 months at minimum. Most of the time, patients lose motivation along the way because the relief they feel after a session is too mild or too temporary.

Outside of these options in modern medicine, there is a very fragmented industry offering alternative treatments for pain. The more respectable members of this industry include chiropractors, osteopaths, acupuncturists, Chinese medicine practitioners, massage therapies, Ayurvedic practitioners. It’s quite clear that these practices offer their customers some relief, because there are so many of them not just in Malaysia, but all around the world. In fact, it almost has become a status symbol for some to claim that they have a chiropractor or an osteopath. But the regularity of the visits that is required to any one of these practitioners speak to a larger issue – most can only help relief pain temporarily. In many countries, chiropractors sell treatment packages that can go into 30-40 session packages. And they aren’t cheap – at least RM100 per session x 40 = RM4000, and after the 40-sessions are completed, most likely the customer will have to sign on for another 40.

Which brings us back to why we think that we’re different in this regard. Our focus since our founding has always been on long term recovery. Sometimes this means complete recovery for the patient, but not always. The rate of progress will depend on many factors, including age, health, lifestyle, and general activity levels. Nonetheless, most of our patients will report significant improvement not just in pain levels, but in factors that act as proxies for deeper healing – functional improvements like returning to activities that previously they could not undertake, or improved range of motion or improved muscle strength. These fortunately are factors that can be objectively measured, for instance a chronic frozen shoulder patient will be measured on the basis of improved range of motion. In the example below, this patient, 53 years old, had been suffering from a frozen shoulder for 6 months, and reported pain at a very high 8 on a 10 point pain scale (VAS) with limited range of motion of up to 112 degrees (full range would be 180 degrees). After just 10 sessions of treatment, completed in 2 weeks, her pain level has reduced by over 60% to a manageable 3/10 and her range has improved to 155 degrees. She still has a few more sessions to go but you can see that her recovery has happened relatively quickly – 2 weeks so far, compared to 6 months with normal standard of care practice with physiotherapy. Before seeing us, this patient had visited an alternative Chinese healer, when the condition was less severe. She underwent that other treatment for 1.5 months, but the pain and problem came back worse than before after only 3 months.

FROZEN SHOULDER PROGRESS IN 10 DAYS YAPCHANKOR

FROZEN SHOULDER PROGRESS: Day 2 (left photo) – 0 to 112 degrees; Day 5 (centre) – 0 to 130 degrees; Day 10 (right) – 0 to 155 degrees

 

Musculoskeletal conditions are without a doubt complex conditions, which is why modern and alternative medicine continue to struggle with them. But all these traditions have strengths and weaknesses, and at YAPCHANKOR we try to combine the best of both worlds to ensure long term recovery of our patients. While our proprietary medicine patches accelerate the healing of the frozen shoulder in the above case, and return functional abilities, by using certified physiotherapists, we can also educate this patient on lifestyle changes that are necessary to maintain the recovery that she experiences after our treatment. This is particularly important in neck and shoulder problems because these are mostly caused by repetitive actions or bad posture at work.

Another example of our focus on long term recovery for the patient is epitomised by Mr. Lew’s case. This patient suffered from compound femur fractures in both thighs, after a serious motor accident. The orthopedic surgeon imbedded metal rods to hold his femurs in place, and then after the surgery, he was hospitalised for over 1 month. He then was recommended an intensive physiotherapy program and for 6 months he continued with this program, but he could not walk and was bed-ridden for the entire period. His doctor told him that it was “God’s will” whether he would walk again. He had also lost his livelihood because he was confined to the bed from pain. Relief provided by the physiotherapy sessions was only temporary, but the underlying result of him walking again was not looking likely. After 6 months, his friend brought him to see us, and he started a 21-session plan, that he completed in slightly over 1 month. His testimonial to YAPCHANKOR can be read here: http://www.yapchankor.com/portfolio/hip-fracture-lew-ah-gan/. Needless to say, he was extremely grateful to us after we helped him walk again only within 2 weeks of our treatment, and today he’s walking without any help from a cane or crutch or walker. These are the cases we are sometimes astounded by ourselves, because we never know for sure the extent we can help the patient when the case is as unique as this. More predictable results can be estimated from common problems like mechanical back pain, slipped discs, knee osteoarthritis, frozen shoulders or sports injuries.

In summary, YAPCHANKOR’s treatment is different because we focus on long term recovery, not temporary relief. We expect our patients to be as committed to this type of recovery as we are, and we feel particularly excited when we are able to return our patients to their ordinary activities after treatment.