It’s understandable that when someone presents with a specific problem, we want to try and come up with solutions that aim to ‘fix’ it.

Therapy forums on Facebook often feature questions along the lines of, “I have someone coming with –insert name of disease or problem here- are there any things anyone can suggest?”

People then of course suggest things.  These suggestions may or may not be helpful, but the motivation and indeed the question itself misses an important aspect of what holistic treatment is all about.  The fundamentals of connective tissue, suggests that the connected nature of everything in the body means that the possibilities for cause and effect on a wider scale are limitless.

I am not suggesting that for example the reflexology argument that there are zones in your feet that are related to your organs is one that holds true, just that you can’t chop your feet off and leave them with someone to fix, any more than you can your kidneys.  However vaguely they are connected.

Put another way, a human body is not a car.

If tomorrow morning you try and start your car and nothing happens, there is one reason and one reason only that this has occurred.  The variables are non-existent and if you reproduced the same fault in any other car the same thing would happen.

My knowledge of mechanics is something akin to zero, but I can be pretty sure that your car malfunctioning has nothing to do with it feeling depressed, unloved or fat.

I can also be reasonably certain that the rust on the side panel, the broken wing mirror and two under inflated tyres have no impact either.  Yet this is kind of how we go about trying to treat a human.

Every human has a a history and a wealth of circumstance that will contribute to their current experience.  A huge element of the presentation of any injury or illness, particularly chronic ones, will be influenced by patterns of learned behaviour.  How much of the pain is fear based?  How much of the nausea is responsive?  How much of what we are experiencing now has roots from deep in the past?

An understanding of how someone moves might point us towards looking at ankle work for a back pain or addressing the TMJ for a knee issue.  Again my implication isn’t that there the teeth have some mystical control over the joints, but that basic load bearing function is at play on a wide scale.

The basic rule of natural treatment, is that the body be treated as a whole, without referral to named disease.

Naming diseases is pretty straightforward and, let’s face it important when it comes to being able to treat life threatening problems.  For everything else, the rules change.

Back pain is the classic example.  Our human frame experiences back pain on a huge scale, second only to mental illness for work days lost to industry.  Yet medicine, for all its ability to conduct hear transplants and brain surgery, remains stumped by a good old fashioned back pain.

The trouble is that the back is subjected to a wide number of influences.  Physical work, emotional tension and just general movement.  Muscular structures all over the body will affect and change the way we use our back and learned patterns of behaviour and movement will give us postural patterns that will limit our movements.

Our environment and social situation, even our socio economic status will help to define how we sit, move, defecate and sleep and our back will bear the brunt of whatever and however we use it.

Even when we have a specific diagnosis of a bulging disc, this is isn’t a full picture and in many situations is an example of the diagnosis hindering rather than helping; most people with a bulging disc don’t have back pain and most people with back pain don’t have a bulging disc.

So next time someone presents with something you’ve never heard of, take a step back and ask, “what’s the problem?”

The problem with the client isn’t the same as the condition they are suffering and the two shouldn’t be confused.