Part 1: How do I know when to seek help?
Every new patient I examine is asked a series of questions. “What brings you in today?” “How bad is your pain?” and the most interesting question of “How long has this been going on?” This is where it gets really interesting… I hear a spectrum of answers from my patients. 2 weeks. 6 months– And my favorite answer—15 years. Can you believe that? 15 years. That’s 180 months. 5475 days. Shocking, really, that a person would deal with having problems with her body for that long. But the problem is, most people have no idea when is the right time to seek help. So, the next few posts will help to answer that.
The basic bottom line is this: It’s always better to seek help sooner rather than later. Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying you should run to your doctor every time you have the tiniest little problem. What I am saying is this: If there is something that doesn’t feel right and it doesn’t seem to be responding normally(i.e. getting better in the right amount of time), then it is in your best interest to get it checked out. That being said, I have a few myths/fears to dispel about going to see your doctor:
Myth #1: If I tell my doctor, she’s going to want to do surgery. I don’t want to have surgery.
I hear this close to once each week. And I always say the same thing. First, just because you see a surgeon, does not mean he will even recommend surgery. I’m being totally honest. Most of my referrals come from surgeons—and that means that they are recommending something other than surgery. Remember that there are many options to help with whatever problem you are experiencing. If you are seeing a good physician, he should be able to help you understand all of your options. Second, just because a physician recommends surgery does not mean that you have to have surgery. You can choose not to. You can choose to wait. So, that brings me back to the main point: It’s always better to seek help sooner rather than later.
Myth #2: After you have babies, it’s normal to _________________. (Fill in the blank: Have pain, leak when you cough and sneeze, hurt during sex, etc.)
I could go on and on and on about this one. I hate hearing this. It is one of my biggest pet peeves.
Common ≠ Normal
It is common to have all of these problems after you have babies. BUT, that doesn’t mean it’s normal. That doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Many times people can do really well in a short amount of time and really regain their function if they receive the right treatment. (See my future posts of what that treatment will look like).
So, that all being said, go get help if you are having a problem. Working together with a physical therapist or a physician can really help you get the most out of your body. Whether you are 25 or 95, you shouldn’t have to “just deal” with a problem.
Please feel free to leave any questions or concerns!!
Written By: Jessica Powley PT, DPT