The doctors said: “He’ll never walk again”
My doctor said: “You need to wear your shoes at all times even in the house”
My doctor said: “Everything is normal”
Me: “My knee hurts when I run”; Doctor: “Then don’t run”
How many times have you personally heard these kinds of statements?
As a healthcare professional, our language is powerful.
With little time to interact with your doctor, there are limitations within the medical system. Even if your doctor says a statement that does not fully represent your physical potential, you might dissect and cling onto his or her words and might even limit yourself for no good reason as a result.
This is called the nocebo effect: the negative effect which follows the administration of an inert pharmacological or procedural treatment (in this case the interaction with your physician), without deliberate harmful intention.
In other words, your doctor’s words may create an unnecessary or unmerited fear that produces more harm than good.
Telling a patient to avoid an activity isn’t problem solving, it’s problem avoiding. By acting as a gatekeeper, a professional may inadvertently limit someone’s health potential and journey of recovery.
As healthcare professionals, our role is to empower our patients and act as their guide to help them RECLAIM PERSONAL responsibility for their own. health
For example, instead of immediately shutting out the possibility of running, why not dig deeper and understand why the pain exists in the first place?
What’s your technique? How often do you run? How far? What type of footwear do you use? What’s your injury history? Etc.
This is said with complete respect for doctors, but the truth is that doctors are not really trained in analyzing and breaking down movement to understand the root of someone’s pain.
Of course, they do have a general knowledge of various pathologies and will provide you with a diagnosis, +/- pain meds, and may or may not refer you to physiotherapy or another health care professional. (Unfortunately, in a recent study it was revealed that just “7%” of patients who visit their doctor suffering with low back pain - end up with a referral to a PT clinic.)
So, when it comes to musculoskeletal pain, a diagnosis is just a label. The medical world tends to focus on diagnoses & labels. We’re led to believe that we can’t understand our ailments until it has a nice, neat label. People in pain are often eager to have tests and imaging done to figure out “WHAT” is wrong with them...understandable!
REALITY: a diagnosis will only get us so far. In fact, many patients will often internalize this weird sounding X-’itis’ diagnosis and make themselves believe they are in some way disabled. They might even think that this label is something they now have for rest of their lives and define themselves by it.
SOLUTION: Education goes way deeper. We need to get away from medical model where you give a diagnosis over to a model that educates and explains the course of action to the patient in order to empower them to return to what they love most. This includes explaining:
· The contributing factors leading the patient to currently not load their body ideally causing their painful body part to be overworked
· A realistic opinion on how long it will take to help ease the pain and get back to desired activities
· The individualized progressive strategy that will prepare their body for the demands of their activities
Let’s forget about labels and focus on what you can do rather what you can’t do.
GREAT NEWS! Our bodies are resilient, and those labels usually hold little actual value in your recovery process!
Find a practitioner that empowers you to rise above your label so that can get back to doing the activities you enjoy!