Get to the Root of Your Pain
How to Know if Your Healthcare Provider is a True Pain Detective
by Tenielle MaGee, Physiotherapist at Leduc City Centre Physiotherapy
Nobody Likes Pain
We don’t like pain, period. And if you’re going to come and see me chances are you want me to help get rid of your pain… along with 95% of everyone else I see at the physiotherapy clinic.
And imagine that we’re sitting together in a treatment room and you point exactly where your pain is. You say “Tenielle the pain is right there. What can you do to get it go away?” At that point maybe you’re hoping that I’ll hook you up to a machine like an ultrasound or TENS or stick an acupuncture needle in that spot.
And then we wait for the magic to happen. (just kidding, but deep down I know you’re hoping for a little magic!)
The Rabbit Trail
Listen close. I want to let you in on a little secret. More times than not, your pain is coming from a source different from where you’re feeling the pain. Hard to believe, but if you keep reading I’ll make this a little clearer for you.
Another title you could give me besides physiotherapist is pain detective.
My job is to help you feel and move better. But to do that I need to look at the different sources of your pain. And there’s quite a few: your joints, muscles, nervous system, movement patterns, beliefs and fears (plus any combination of these).
I’ll often use the analogy of an onion. We need to work through the layers of the onion to get at the root of what’s causing your pain.
How Does This Apply To Me?
Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you come in with IT Band Syndrome (If you’re a runner you’ll know what I’m talking about). You’ve got pain on the outside of your leg and it’s aggravated by repetitive knee movements.
You can point to exactly where the pain is coming from…or can you? There could be a number of causes aggravating this fascial structure. It may be coming from above the knee like the hip or back or below the knee like your ankle or foot.
So we begin a journey into uncovering the primary cause of your pain:
- weak hips
- poor arch control
- unstable knee
- faulty movement habits
- irritated nerve from your low back.
And there are more potential causes. So there’s a lot of potential reasons of why you’re coming in with pain. And just trying to treat the local tissue may not permanently solve your pain.
Choosing Your Pain Detective
When you begin the journey of healing, you want to make sure you’re confident you’re trusting your body with a true pain detective. Here’s some key things to look for:
Ask Questions to Understand Your Story
You want your physiotherapist to really take the time and listen to understand your story. Your journey is unique and your story gives a lot of clues to an observant detective.
Performs a Thorough Assessment
If you see someone and their assessment lasts only a few minutes then you can be sure they are only seeing part of the picture. Your body is a system so you need to understand the different interactions of the system.
Examines More Than Just the Site of Your Pain
This ties into my last point. If you have pain in your knee, you need to have your hips, low back, and feet checked out on top of your knee joint.
Checks Your Progress Often
A true pain detective will make a diagnosis about your source of pain and then will check often (every few visits) to make sure there’s progress. If you’re not seeing progress, more often than not, the root cause hasn’t been identified.
Your body is precious. And I want to help you along that journey in whatever way I can.
To Your Health,