The other day I was discussing the benefits of physical therapy with a new employee at the clinic. Over the past couple weeks of training he has seen patients transform from dependency on medication, and depression from an inevitable surgery, to seeing life free from these interventions - allowing the body to heal naturally.
I thought to myself, “if I could dedicate my career to sharing this story I wonder how many people could be helped.” If the way we view healthcare and our bodies was redirected to an approach of empowerment rather than dependence, what would the effects be?
In this conversation I shared just one story of how our traditional western medicine mindset is costing us our health.
This story is of a fake patient, but represents the many real people and real stories that I see on a daily basis.
Carol is a patient who came to me with shoulder and neck pain:
Carol: Several years back I had been in an accident that left my neck and shoulder feeling very sore. Following the accident my shoulder pain began along with frequent migraines. I then went to my primary care provider who ordered an X-ray and sent me to an orthopedic surgeon and a pain management doctor. Since the initial accident I have had two shoulder surgeries and three months of physical therapy but no relief. I have also been taking several different kinds of opioid medications for months now. I don’t like taking them, but I have no choice.
Me: Tell me more about how these providers have treated the neck and migraine pain?
Carol: They haven’t addressed my neck or migraine pains. They just looked at my shoulder. I am tired of this pain and have lost my job because of it.
Me: Where does your pain start, or where is the primary source of your pain?
Carol: (points to the back side of her shoulder and her neck area). Primarily in this area, I think my migraines stem from here as well.
Me: So let me play this back to you. Your pain started with an injury to the neck and shoulder, you have seen 2-3 specialists, endured 2 surgeries, 3 months of physical therapy and suffered the side affects of opioid pain meds and on top of that lost your job and have found no pain relief?
Carol: That is correct.
When digging deeper into the treatments provided, I found that physical therapy had followed a standard protocol for a post-surgical patient and had essentially ignored her symptoms in the neck along with her other providers.
When examining her she had clear signs that her neck and migraines were changing the way her shoulder moved. This change of movement was undoubtedly the reason for her continued shoulder pain. As she stated, her neck and shoulder movement problem had yet to be addressed.
Here is why this is of massive proportions. I am confident that if she would have found her way to the right provider she would have avoided surgery, months of pain medications and three months of physical therapy by clinicians following a protocol. Ultimately she would still have a job and her life would be completely transformed.
My hope is to change the way people thing, but hearing this story once has little hope of changing anyone. So how do we change the way people think? Telling them is one way… consistency in telling this story can be effective. A more effective approach is by showing them. Showing a patient how their pain can be reduced in 15 minutes and by providing more relief than any medication they have ever taken without a single side effect. How they can return to their job or avoid another surgery all by finding the right provider. How Physical Therapy can look different than exercises and protocols written up by surgeons and ultimately how our bodies that were beautifully and wonderfully made can heal themselves.
This is a story worth sharing.