Blame the patient.

Sixteen years ago, I was treating someone who wasn't getting better.  I was newly graduated, ahd just started treating patients, and was working for someone else at the time.  I treated the majority of the patients, my boss spent his days marketing and dealing with business.  I'd begun treating the patient for lower back pain and he was getting minimal relief, but it didn't last.  Then his neck started hurting, and I wasn't sure why.  I re-evaluated him, couldn't come up with a straight answer.  He was upset, I was upset, but kept at it.  I called my boss, asked his advice.  My boss had been in practice for many years and often had good clinical advice.  He said, "Charlie, pain happens.  People hurt.  People are often going to have pain for a long time.  When they're having pain, you have to put it back on the patient.  Find out what they're doing wrong in their daily life.  It may be they're not exercising or stretching enough. Or they're stretching too much.   Their ergonomics might be off.  And check out their diet.  But you have to put it back on them."  

 

I had a lot of respect for my boss, and for his experience.  It is good to look outside the box and see what else in their life could be changed that might help.  But my gut told me he was wrong.  I still have a fair deal of respect for his clinical knowledge.  I will always try to look for causes of pain, and do what I can to help.  But I refuse to blame patients for their pain.  

 

Bad Pain happens to Good People.

 

It's very common for patients to blame themselves.  It'd be easy to do what my boss had said. Very often the first thing out of their mouth is them blaming themselves "Doc, I did something stupid..."

 

I am waiting for a patient to one day say "Doc, I've done something of staggering brilliance, and that's why I'm here today."  I have not yet met that guy.

 

I have seen many scientists, medical doctors, successful entrepreneurs and smart people from all walks of life as patients.  I have known many smart people in pain.

It's pretty common for people to feel embarrassed or stupid when they have pain or get an injury.  If they know how they did it, they feel stupid for their actions.  If they don't know why they hurt, they feel stupid for not knowing.  

 

I have a job because so many people have pain.  100 million Americans have chronic pain.  80% of people will have significant back pain in their lives.  

 

I'm saying this because you may be reading this because you have pain.  And I don't want you to blame yourself.  I don't want you to let someone else (doctor or anyone else) blame you for having pain.  Working to get out of pain is helpful, but blaming yourself is not.  Partly because some people can convince themselves that they deserve to have pain.  I don't believe that's true.   Pain happens.  But it's not on you.  If you've questions on how to get out of pain, or where to go for help with pain, call or email me.  I hope to be of help.  

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