Pain is NOT fun. When it interferes with daily life, playing with kids, taking the dog for walks or fitness, it becomes very inconvenient. Chronic pain is an interesting phenomenon because we often don’t know the true cause. Also, the intensity does not necessarily indicate the severity of the injury. Pain does not equal damage!
With chronic pain, imaging should have limited bearing on the decision for course of action. Although the images may show changes- tears, arthritis, etc.- what’s to say that is the pain generator? Studies have been performed that demonstrate the 60%+ of people WITHOUT low back pain have imaging that shows bulges or degenerative changes. So just because you have changes on images and pain, there is not definite proof of correlation for chronic pain. We suggest to skip the routine imaging until you have tried other options to decrease the pain.
Can you get rid of pain even without “fixing” the tissue with surgery? Yes! The body is incredibly resilient and resourceful. The body has the ability to heal; this coupled with strategic strengthening in supporting musculature can knock pain out completely. There are exceptions to every rule, but at our clinic I have seen more “injuries” successfully treated with mobility and strengthening than with surgery. Honestly, some that chose surgery realized the recovery was more tedious and painful than managing the pain while we worked through a rehab program.
Don’t get me wrong, surgery is absolutely necessary sometimes. If there is major instability around a joint or a traumatic event, we are so thankful for surgery! But it definitely something to avoid if you don’t absolutely need it.
Do I need surgery?
Have you tried physical therapy?
How much of your function is compromised?
Did you get a second opinion?
What are your goals?
How is your overall health?
Don’t settle for a “quick fix” and think that going under the knife is the first and only option. Work with a physical therapist to decrease the pain, improve the function and teach you how to keep your body healthy! We would love to help you get back to a pain-free and high functioning life.
Thanks for reading,
We hear this too often:
“I’ll wait until I’m injured to go to physical therapy.”
“My shoulder hurts but I’m just going to wait a few weeks and see if it goes away.”
“When my knee started hurting I went straight to the ortho surgeon for recommendations.”
“I’ve had back pain for 15 years. It is just a part of being old; there is nothing they can do!”
Many people still picture physical therapy as the place your grandma goes when she has a hip replacement or after a shoulder injury when you perform simple band exercises for 6 weeks. Unfortunately, this leads people to think that physical therapy isn’t for them.
If folks don’t go to a physical therapist first, they go to their primary care doc or other medical docs. Many times they end up seeing an orthopedic surgeon who suggests expensive imaging that often elevates fear but also may lead to unnecessary procedures. Ok, so surgery is the extreme. Many times, people will wait a few weeks (or months!) to get it checked out. For most injuries or pains, physical therapy sooner rather than later will decrease the time it takes to get you back in the game and decrease your cost.
But what about those of us who have had pain for 6 months or 6 years?! You will see the best results from a movement specialist (that’s us!) watching you move—carry objects, bend and lift, run, lift weights, etc—and correcting any dysfunction. Hopefully the surgeon suggests physical therapy first! Then you know where to call. ☺
Physical therapy at Athletes’ Potential is different from your usual PT clinic:
- One on one with a Doctor of Physical Therapy
- One hour per visit
- Skilled hands-on techniques
- Personalized homework- not just therabands and hamstring stretches!
- No referral needed
Case Example: A middle aged, male patient with chronic shoulder pain for over 15 years! Imaging showed a massive rotator cuff tear and labral tear. Orthopedic surgeon was ready for surgery ASAP; just to be clear, this is a pretty severe injury so surgery is often first thing on the table. However, this patient wanted to try anything BUT surgery. After 12 weeks of commitment to rehab homework, coming in weekly for hands-on work and slow return to golfing, he was pain-free and beginning to have full range in his swing. Now a year later, he has no shoulder pain and a pretty solid golf swing. We focused on decreasing pain and improving function rather than harping on “fixing” the tear. It takes patience, dedication and active involvement from the patient—but it is possible!
All of this to say, if you have pain with sitting at your desk, picking up the kids or during your fitness routine, DON’T WAIT until it take you out of the game. The earlier we can address it, the sooner it will feel better. Less time and money than the other options!
Why is physical therapy at Athletes’ Potential different? As Danny always says, if you have a body you’re an athlete. Your “rehab” should prepare you to play with your kids on the ground and carry 15 grocery bags at one time! Pelvic tilts and therabands won’t get you there.
Give us a call and let us know how we can help YOU!
Thanks for reading,
Dr. Danny and Dr. Jackie's views on performance improvement, injury prevention and sometimes other random thoughts.