One of the most frustrating things for an athlete, weather professional or amateur is when an injury occurs and prevents them from competing. In my 20 years of experience treating athletes, I have seen quite a few instances of treatments that included rehabilitation, surgery and injections, with little improvement or overall harm done. The cost of many of these interventions is high until competition knocks them down to size. You can read the NY Times article by clicking here
The problem is, most of what I hear about could not possibly work since the treatment is based on a faulty ideology. An example of this is prolotherapy, where an area is injected to cause an inflammatory reaction, resultants scar tissues because the area is assumed to be hypermobile (moving too much). I had my doubts about its usefulness because usually when a joint is hypermobile, it is because other joints surrounding it are hypomobile. A recent case involved a patient who had knee pain and felt instability in her knee, even though all tests suggest everything is normal inside the knee. The prolotherapy made the knee hurt worse. Most recently, prior to returning to my office, she visited a physical therapists office where they attempted to do a few weeks of therapy to the knee. This did not work and then he strapped the leg down and yanked on her knee while strapped and bent at 90 degrees. She hurt worse. When I saw the patient while later, it turned out the problems were in her foot and her hip, which when hypomobile will strain the knee. I explained and showed her everything that was involved in why the knee hurt and then treated the correct areas. She has since been improved.
The body is a machine, except unlike your car, it is made of living tissues. The problem is that common sense does not equal understanding body mechanics. The plight of many athletes not being able to find the right care is a symptom of what we are doing wrong when teaching doctors. Doctors need to be detectives first, diagnosticians second and then therapists third. When doctors fail to be good detectives, because they have a poor understanding of how the body works mechanically, they are poor diagnosticians because you cannot diagnose a problem properly if you do not understand the mechanism behind it (most injuries are called overuse which in many cases is a fancy way of saying that your doctor does not understand the mechanism of the injury).
By arriving at the right diagnosis, your health care provider can recommend the right treatment. This often does not include working on where it hurts but instead working on why it hurts. If you are having difficulty with this distinction, it is because most people concentrate on their pain, not on how it got there. Most therapies fail because they are directed at the pain, and not the mechanism behind the pain.
If you are intrigued by this thought, we are surrounded by health care providers of symptoms, rather than of cause. Since we are mechanical, treating the pain resulting from the poor body mechanics results in frustration, downtime and many dollars spent chasing treatments like the ones mentioned in the NY times article.
This past weekend, I was at the beach with some friends. My friends wife was talking about a problem with periodic numbness in one or both arms into her pinky’s and she was wondering who to see; An orthopedic or a neurologist. My other friend, who is an anesthesiologist, offered to look at her arm. He has often said to me privately that in medical school they give us very little training in the musculoskeletal system, however, since he has some similar issues, decided to oblige her. After watching him for a few minutes, I had to open my mouth out of frustration, watching this play out. I said hoping not to be too forward that as a chiropractor, we evaluate and treat these types of problems on a daily basis. I can likely resolve this for you quickly, saving you a lot of time and aggravation. Her response was she was afraid of cracking. I explained to her that adjustments to the spine are only a small part of what I do and a proper evaluation can improve your understanding of the problem and help point you in the right direction. Being given a proper evaluation should be much less scary than going to specialists who may be the wrong fit for your complaints.
Unfortunately, this type of thinking has cost many people thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs to fix their problems when the answer could be found with the right sports specialist. While I cannot tell people what to think, I can say that using the same thought process and expecting better outcomes when the current thought process is clearly wrong is the definition of insanity.
The same goes for trying to use providers who do not understand body mechanics even though they took some courses in treating athletes. You can save yourself aggravation, disappointment and money by finding health care providers that understand the cause.
If you want to be more in control of your problems of the musculoskeletal system, you may consider reading my new book, Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain. This is available on Amazon.com and is designed to educate you so you understand yourself better. Educated consumers make better patients and educated patients are more likely to find healthcare providers of cause.
What do you think? As always, I value your opinion.