Find out why from a perspective of a physical therapist.
As far as my experiences go, there is a trend that I always encounter in my practice. I tried to think of it as a way things go. After all, even if there is direct practice, we rely on our doctors for approval and recommendations, not only with the treatment plan (in many parts of the world) but also with reimbursements on third-party or federal insurances (applies to first-world countries). Still, it irks me to speak up, with full disclosure that we have our limitations, and sometimes physicians are the only ones that can help the patient.
Here is an example. An individual in their 40s to 60s comes into the doctor’s office to consult about their problem. The pain can be from the shoulder, back, hips or knees, or multiple body sites bothering them. Then, they will receive prescriptions for pain medications and injections. If this does not go away after a long time, the preset would be: opting for surgery.
I am not against it because there are cases that it is imperative. But, to clarify, I am talking about those who deliberately choose to do it without firm and formidable clinical decision making, thorough physical examinations, imagings, and tapping into a patient’s lifestyle and habits that could contribute to their condition. After all, we are trying to survive each day and putting food on our plates, right?
But, this is a double-edged sword. It is good that we will give our best to help someone. On the other hand, it is disheartening when we do not contribute beforehand because there are cases where they get worse and do not attain their desired outcome.
So, why do you not need surgery right away?
It is not always the solution.
I will go back to the scenario. You are the one that went to the doctor’s office about your pain. You cannot move a muscle, or it is intolerable due to the pain. When they hear this, the automatic solution would be meds, and if any, injections. Moreso, you are given a probation period to observe yourself, and if they do not work, you will undergo surgery. It is a suggestion that many hear and fear, from it having an unpredictable outcome in the long run.
It is even quite hard to debunk the idea that when something is painful, do not move. It is more common to hear about this in the Philippines. I always convince people that it prevents mobility and the capability to carry out activities again. Eventually, if not checked, the worst case is it can lead to disability.
It is tough to persuade them, but with enough push, it is possibly one of the most critical ways to health, is to be aware of what to do about it.
It looks as if it is against the grain. Why do you have to move if moving a specific body part is painful? But, hear me out. The existence of Principles of Neuroplasticity is something that most of us use. One of its rules is “Use It Or Lose It”. It speaks for itself, wherein the potential of moving further is imminent when you move. On the other hand, if you do not utilise your muscles, it is safe to say that you will lose the ability to move it.
Although a disclaimer, it is still essential to check with your doctor for further examination if the pain is not because of a severe underlying condition.
Maybe the best thing to do is to wait.
It may be good to seek a consultation with a physiatrist or rehabilitation medicine physician, or an orthopedic doctor. In the minds of these professionals, whenever someone is unable to move, in pain, or both, the solution is to see an optimal way to proceed with assistance or freely. They can provide home remedies, pain medications that only aid in the progress, and simple movements you can do at home. If monitoring or progression is advised, we come into the picture.
A quick brief, a physical therapist is responsible for guiding you to the general movements on your body correctly. It will be through exercises and functional activities that make you strong (strengthening) and have the stamina to do things for an extended period (endurance).
Once you desire to integrate back into your day to day activities, we can call on an occupational therapist to aid on specific tasks that you need to relearn. They will ask you what your activities of daily living are, and then they will know what interventions are right for you.
From these, your healthcare providers will monitor how well your body responds to the treatments and evaluate whether it is still necessary to go through an operation. Depending on the severity, it could take weeks to months even for a decision. The key here is to have patience and be open about what is the result of your treatment.
Look into your priorities first.
A quick way to assess it is will you be able to endure the days, weeks, and months of pain after surgery? Only through the doctor’s permission when to move your limb or back, and the intensive rehabilitation process, just to return to your everyday life?
Or think of it this way, probably it might be okay to do physical therapy or occupational therapy and see if it does work? It can be good for you too because you can become physically active and maintain a healthier way to do your everyday tasks.
Still, there are many situations where surgery is the only way, due to dislocation, a muscle tear from overuse, and fractures. With this, always seek a doctor that will look into your well-being and cater to all options available.
At the end of the day, we have a choice on what to do to our bodies. It is essential to look into what is best for our condition and what feels right. Lastly, always remember that we can be an alternative or the solution you need. So, how can we help?
Kakayanan.org offer teleconsultations with notable doctors. Mainly, we offer physical and occupational therapy at the comforts of your home, whether online or through home visits. Schedule one today!