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Avoid "more of the same"

In the health and fitness world most people will agree, no one has all the answers. Where we are seeing the biggest issues in outcomes is when something is not working, for whatever reason, and we keep trying. If you are someone who has been going to the chiropractor, going to PT, getting injections, and you still have the same issue; you will want to read this one.

I recently had a patient come in and say she was in a pretty severe car accident a little over a year ago and was continuing to suffer from severe headaches, neck pain, shoulder and low back pain. She was going to the chiropractor 1-2x/week and had returned to work full time roughly 8 months prior to our first visit. As a small business owner she knew that she had to work, whether her pain impacted her well-being or not. What blows my mind is that she has been doing the same exact treatment for over a year and was not perturbed for a second. I asked her, "Is your insurance covering the chiropractor visits?" she replied "no." At this time she is paying completely out of pocket with the expectation that once her case is settled she will be reimbursed. Money aside, this is crazy!

A year plus with the same intervention with no lasting improvement and she didn't bat an eye. As young therapists we are taught that time will also play a factor into someone's recovery. Being positive and supportive can be just as effective as being logical and providing the appropriate treatment. However, after a year of the same intervention, no substantial changes had occurred. At least not for more than a few days. At this time it is beyond my position to encourage her to change her mind, for that could negatively impact her treatment.

There are other examples of this that I see everyday. A patient connects with a practitioner and feels obligated to finish out the plan of care. Whether it has taken 3months, 12 months or 3 years. A patient's insurance deductible is met and they might as well "use it." Unfortunately, there is not a set guideline on when to end treatment and accept that the approach is simply not working. Since this situation is difficult, what should we do? As patients and as practitioners, there has to be a better way.

My proposition is not to "treat" people but to educate them. This is why we do this, this is the change it should foster, this is how it relates to your problem. That way, the patient can decide what is working and what is not. Certainly you may benefit from some hands on work that I am educated and licensed to provide, but if you don't know why it needs to be done, it shouldn't be done. Also, it is incredibly rare that what someone does to you with their hands cannot be done by you, either on your own once you've mastered the technique, or under the supervision of someone qualified.

When I say avoid "more of the same" what I am referring to is the approach practitioners take to your care, not what they do per se. If they only do, and don't explain, they either don't know what they are doing or they have no interest in letting you move on from their care. The practitioner that does this is not some monster who only cares about the money, though they might be. They just have not reached a level of understanding that allows them to empower their patients's to manage themselves. If you truly understand how your body works, you will have control over how it feels.

Oh ya, and that patient who was in the car accident. She is has stopped requiring adjustments twice a week, has less shoulder and back pain, she understands how her body likes to work and how it doesn't like to work, and she is progressing herself daily while I help her to see her changes and push her along once weekly.


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