Why Some Patients Fail Care

Why Some Patients Fail Care

Picture doctors as the medical maestros, orchestrating the symphony of healing with a blend of expertise and precision tools. In the good ol' days, specialized knowledge was a treasure found in textbooks and studies vetted by experts and carefully researched. But now, the internet and social media is a digital fire hose of information. Amidst the chaos, beware of self-styled authorities—whether it's the fitness guru on your Instagram feed or the mom blogger with a penchant for nutrition—who dole out medical advice without the credentials. It's like everyone's suddenly a doctor, but DIY healthcare often ends in a prescription for disaster.

In this article, we're going to learn why some patients fail care. Bad advice on the internet has led some people to form unrealistic expectations about what proper care looks like. This may lead them to ignore their doctor's advice. Don't fall for flashy promises or quick tricks; stick with the real pros to keep your health on track!

Unreasonable Timeline

Does a bodybuilder become incredibly muscular by going to the gym for a month or two? Does a marathon runner win a race after doing a few jogs around the block for a couple weeks? Of course, the answer is no. It takes hard work, persistence, and dedication to the goal to achieve the desired result. Achieving your health goals is no different.

Too often we encounter the following scenario: "Bill" comes into our office for a new patient appointment. He tells me that he has had low back pain on-and-off for the last six months. It has been progressively getting worse and his wife is tired of him complaining about his aching back every night and forced him to make an appointment. He comes in two or three times, then says "Doc, I'm feeling pretty good and my pain is almost gone. I'm going to cancel the rest of my appointments, I'll call you if I need you. Thanks for everything!"

Unfortunately, Bill may have just sealed his fate. He is going to be calling our office again in two months, and we have to start the process over. Or worse, we never see him again. He then goes on to tells his family and friends that the chiropractor didn't really help.

If Bill had gone to a physical therapy clinic, his treatment plan would be three times a week for six to twelve weeks. Often, the treatment plans can last even longer for other conditions. And those physical therapy sessions are typically almost an hour long. Why do patients expect that their chiropractic treatment plan should be drastically shorter?

If I could make patients understand one thing, it's that results take time, dedication, and a strict adherence to the treatment plan that we outlined for you. Pain is the last symptom to manifest and the first symptom to subside. It is your body's warning system telling you there is a problem. The dysfunction has to reach a certain threshold for that system to trigger. When the dysfunction falls below the pain threshold, it doesn't mean the problem is solved. It just means it has begun the process of getting better. Be patient and let us continue to strengthen, rehabilitate, and stabilize the dysfunction to fix it for long-term results.

The Do-It-Yourself Method

I hear patients tell me the wild ways they attempt to treat their symptoms almost every day. Who can blame them when they are desperate for relief? Unfortunately, almost none of these methods are effective. Some are downright dangerous. Many even try persuading their family or friends to perform treatments on them. Here are some of the things I've heard in my office:

  • "When I get home from work, I just ask my daughter to walk on my back. I get a few cracks back there."

  • "My husband bear hugs me from behind and picks me up and I hear lots of pops."

  • "I crack my own neck by twisting my head in my hands ."

  • "I told my wife to copy what you did to me in the office but it didn't work."

  • "If I bend my elbows and spin really hard to the left, then right, I can hear some pops in my low back."
Barbie is bewildered
My face when hearing these confessions

I know there are some of you in the audience who have tried some of these things. You may have even admitted them to me yourself. Now, by a show of hands, how many of you were able to resolve your complaints permanently with these methods? Oh, none of you? How shocking. There is a reason we go to school to learn our techniques and there is a reason that none of them look like what you attempt yourselves at home!

Where do patients get these ideas? Some, they conceive of themselves. Others are often learned from well-meaning but poorly trained fitness gurus and trainers. Ever see a reel on your Instagram or Facebook feed titled "Try this one exercise to melt away your shoulder pain!" Sometimes, you may even see this come from a physical therapist or chiropractor. They should be the most ashamed for perpetuating this harmful trend. This boils my blood when I see these sorts of things.

There can be 101 reasons why you have shoulder pain. Without a proper examination, we couldn't possibly know which of these reasons it could be. This is why your treatment plan requires an assessment and not just doing a single exercise you see on social media. Pain is complex and a certain exercise may not be well tolerated by someone in pain at that point in time.

Have you ever then clicked on the profile of that video and see the account is filled with those "POV" (point of view) exercises. How many magical exercises can there be to cure someone's pain?! I'd be cautious of any account that posts clickbait material. I get it, everyone's trying to grow their social media following. But with so many of these magical posts, who needs healthcare?!

However, there are of course things that you can do at home to help yourself. These almost always come in the form of a home exercise prescription after you've been examined so that we can build a plan specific to your needs. In our office, we show you rehabilitative exercises (and send you an email with pictures, descriptions, and even videos!) on exactly how you can and should perform these yourself.

Home exercise is a critical part of our process, and yet it seems to be the one aspect our patients are most reluctant to actually do. Like I said, it takes hard work and dedication to get results and we can't do that process for you. To relate back to fitness, you don't go to the gym and lay on a table and a trainer makes you stronger. They tell you what to do and you actually have to do it. It's an active process!

The "Magic" Product

The last reason some patients fail to get better is that they believe that some magic product they saw and bought is the key to solving their issues. Some products may actually be useful. However, the vast majority over-promise and under-deliver on what they claim to do. This comes in the form of highly produced ads and paid testimonials to convince you that the only thing separating you from permanent pain relief is the purchase of their product. These often appear in the form of targeted social media ads.

The products themselves come in the form of inversion tables, stretch wheels, massagers, acupressure mats and hooks, posture correction devices, etc. While some of these may even provide some temporary relief (most are garbage), it all comes down to one problem, that we mention time and time again. Permanent results require active therapy. There are no shortcuts to getting pain relief through natural and safe means, without drugs or surgery. That's the trade-off. Avoid the side effects by putting in the hard, but necessary work.

These devices will not cure your back pain

What Have We Learned?

The main takeaways I want you to learn today are threefold: first, you need to stick to the recommended treatment plan. Abandoning care at the first sign of relief is a guarantee that the pain will return. It takes hard work and dedication beyond pain relief to make the necessary changes for long-term effects. The duration and frequency of your care plan are designed specifically to achieve results for your condition.

Second, don't take advice from self-proclaimed gurus on the internet. You are not their patient, they have not examined you, they are most likely not experts, and their primary goal is to make easy-to-digest content to grow their social media following. It's not sexy to say that problems are complex, individual results may vary, and that making changes isn't quick and easy.

Finally, don't buy into the hype for products that promise quick fixes. These are ads designed to sell you products, and they are just trying to sell their merchandise. Results take time, effort, determination and dedication to working on your problems to provide solutions for the long term. Only you and your doctor know the specifics of your condition and need to be tailor-made with your goals in mind.