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If your healthcare provider does this, you need a new one...

Updated: May 17, 2023

I write about this topic because I've heard this story hundreds of times. And I heard it again this morning.

I started working with someone who was dealing with a lot of pain in a lot of places. Most significant of all was the pain she was feeling in her right elbow, wrist, and shoulder, seemingly from sitting at a computer for work.

She had seen every type of rehab professional, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a naturopath, and a physiotherapist to name a few. But she felt relief from her pain only temporarily from these treatments and it always flared back up.

These providers were happy to crack her back and neck, provide heating pads, and medication, but none actually asked enough questions and listened enough to her to solve the root cause of why she was in pain in the first place.

This process was going on for over 5 years.

Another of my clients referred her 61 year old mom to me after dealing with severe lower back pain. For the greater part of the last few years she was bed ridden for days at a time because of the pain.

Again she saw many different healthcare providers including a high-class pain specialist, but still saw no relief.

I had her in the gym for 3 months and she was back to carrying her own groceries and doing all kinds of tasks at home with zero pain. She's become a gym rat in her 60s.

Now I don't bring this up to be negative about all other healthcare practitioners, but there does seem to be a common theme of treating the symptoms as opposed to treating the cause.

And these providers are happy to have these clients come back every week for expensive "maintenance" appointments for the rest of their lives just to keep their pain at bay. It's definitely a good model from a money-making standpoint, not so much from a client care point of view.

This is not to say that there aren't good physical therapists or chiropractors, but too many of them do the bare minimum. It frustrates me greatly to see patients receiving such sub-optimal care.

So here are some red flags to look out for in your healthcare provider in order to get the best care possible:

1. They prescribe the same things to everyone

Too often a physiotherapist has a token prescription for knee pain and gives out the same 3 stretches to everyone and sends them on their way. If they don't take the time to understand your individual situation, you need to look elsewhere for help.

2. They don't listen or ask good questions

Pain is a multi-factorial phenomenon. There is rarely one obvious cause for someone's pain. You therefore need to dig deep and figure out where the client or patient is at and develop a care plan that suits their needs and their starting point.

If your provider isn't willing to "hear" you, that's a huge red flag.

3. They promote only to rest and avoid movement

If you've been told never to squat, never to pick up things from the floor or to reach overhead, then you absolutely need to find another provider. Avoidance is the equivalent of sweeping the problem under the rug and hoping it disappears.

In order to become more functional and tolerant to our day to day tasks, our body's need to be prepared to do them. And that can happen through movement and training. Avoidance leads to further disuse and further disability and injury risk.

Choose who you're receiving help from wisely and don't be afraid to look elsewhere if someone isn't providing the care you deserve.

To your good health,

Coach Stephen


Looking to become pain-free so you can enjoy your favourite sports and hobbies again? Do you want to live a higher quality of life free of pain?

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