We’ve seen the news about the opiod epidemic and our system’s failure in managing chronic pain. People are constantly searching for treatment to help them reduce their pain, and over the last 10 years it seems the easiest method has been through medication. But one thing the media and outlets aren’t talking about is that some of these people have tried MULTIPLE sources for pain relief! Some of these “addicts” have failed with physical therapy, failed with chiropractics, failed with massage, failed with surgery, failed with injections, and it seems that long term medication is now their only option. But why did they fail? Was it that they didn’t try hard enough? Didn’t stick with it? Maybe. Here’s one perspective:
We as therapists, optometrists, physicians, chiropractors, and other medical professionals aren’t looking at our body as a whole. We are so narrow-minded in looking at our own speciality, that we aren’t looking at how other factors come into play. We need to see the bigger picture, that these systems work together and are integrated. We treat back pain, but don’t look at the diaphragm, breathing patterns, sensory and visual input. We look at the shoulder as a shoulder, but we don’t look at the structures around it or the systems that allow it to move. We see “bad posture,” but don’t fully look at the respiratory, movement, and neurological patterns that created it.
How many of you have gone to a doctor, chiropractor, PT, masseuse, or trainer with hip pain and the only thing the clinician looked at was the hip? Did they look at your back? Diaphragm? Neck? If you said yes, awesome! We should be looking at all of those things! If you said no, then I’m sorry, but that was an opportunity missed.
I am guilty of this. I am guilty of only looking at a single joint, or only looking at the problem from an orthopedic level. I’m guilty of saying, “There’s nothing else I can do for you.” I have failed to look at the neurological, respiratory and proproceptive systems when evaluating a new patient. But I think differently now. I am learning new systems outside of orthopedics. I am looking at movement in a new way.
I encourage my friends in the medical field to open their mind and dive into uncharted territory. Learn more about what your other disciplines see; how they evaluate, what they look at. Because what they see may be different from what you see, and information put together may be the missing link to your patient’s issue. Learn your resources around you and don’t be afraid to bring others in to help! The goal is success for your patient!
And to my “addict,” don’t give up. Do your research and keep pushing. Every clinican has different skill sets, knowledge, experience, and treatments. You might have to keep trying until you find the right treatment for you.