Why do my problems keep coming back? Can I truly get better?

Recovery can get frustrating when your problem keeps coming back. Be it neck pain or back pain, we get a little discouraged each time it starts hurting again.

As a chiropractor, I help chronic pain patients through these issues, and help them develop long-term working solutions. I have successfully coached hundreds of clients to help them help themselves achieve freedom from pain.

Why does my pain keep coming back?

enactive pain model
Chronic pain is no longer about what’s wrong with your physical body but rather what can you do to achieve peak global well-being.

As humans, it’s in our DNA to find problems with what is going on. However, that strategy may not work as well when it comes to recovery. Research in chronic pain has shown that the “problem” is multifactorial in nature.

In other words, there are many reasons why you may be experiencing what you are experiencing. Research has further suggested that may not be possible to truly understand why your pain hurts or why it keeps coming back.

However, that doesn’t mean you cannot get better.

Focus on solutions instead of the individual problems.

solution focused coaching, chronic pain managementIt’s common for people blame their posture or the damage in their spine for their pain. Finding something to blame is not a good approach as most problems that you can identify are likely to be poorly associated with pain.

That is, it doesn’t make a difference even if you try to change it.

This is why changing to a nicer table or chair may make you feel better but doesn’t truly stop your pain from coming back. Similarly, postural changes alone can help you feel better in the short-term but is also not a permanent solution.

smart goals
For best recovery results, it is best to be able to contextualise your pain. Maybe set some functional goals. What do you want to be able to do pain-free?

Instead of trying to address the problems you have found, the better approach is to focus on your goals and take baby steps to bring yourself towards that.

You want to sit at the table without back pain?

Sure, how long can you sit at the table for today? How long do you want to be able to sit for?

What can you do — over time — that will help you increase the amount of time* you can sit at your desk?

In short, focus on the solutions.

* Pro tip: focus solutions that will allow you to do more — rather than feel less pain — will give you better longer term results!

Being problem-free or disease-free doesn’t mean good health.

self actualisation pyramid

Health is not about the absence of disease!

According to the World Health Organisation, “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

If you are willing to embrace this, then it may become more apparent why you are not truly getting better.

Being healthy is not about finding fault with your body and getting rid of them. Being healthy is about being able to live the life you want to live, in the way you want it!

Commit time and effort, regardless of how you feel.

improvements are only temporary

This is probably the most challenging part in recovery.

We tend to do more to help ourselves when it hurts. When tend to do less to help ourselves when it doesn’t hurt.

If you only pay attention to your recovery only when it hurts, it will be no surprise that your pain keeps coming back.

Consider someone who is trying to lose weight or trying to gain muscle mass. They would have to consistently manage their diet over three to six months before they start to see any true changes. This takes discipline!

Eating too little will affect how much muscle mass a person can put on. Similarly, eating too much will affect how much weight a person can lose.

Just as how yo-yo dieting yield very poor outcomes, yo-yo recovery is not going to help in the long-term. What you need is to invest time and effort in yourself.

Improvements are only temporary until they become a part of who you are!

How long time do I need to make meaningful progress?

Six months is a good start.

While most of my clients will see results between six to 12 weeks, being able to continually work on yourself even after you feel better will set yourself up for long-term success.

Most of my clients would live with chronic pain for at least two to three years and often up to 10 or even 20 years. With these numbers in mind, six months is not a unreasonable ask.

But it will be challenging? You bet.

This is why recovery is not about trying to get rid of problems. It’s about making progressive small wins and maximising marginal gains over and over again.

Sick and tired of temporary quick fixes? Book in an appointment with us to discover the difference the right care can make.


Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.

Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.

*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.