“I Feel Great!”

A Pragmatic View to Health Living

The absence of pain is a poor indicator of determining how healthy someone actually is. Click on the image to enlarge.

Somewhere along the lines of true health care and modern medicine we have become a society of individuals that determines how healthy we are based on the presence or absence of “pain”. Why is that? This has long been the medical model to care that is more so based on “sick” care and not so much on “health” care, in other words the pain approach is based on symptom care and not so much on preventive care which is the most important thing today. It has become evident over the years with the rising costs of health care that the “pain” model of care has not been very successful in the management and prevention of disorders.

FACT: The Childhood Obesity Foundation points out that only 15% of children were overweight or obese in 1978 and today 29% of adolescents have unhealthy weights. Canada’s Public Health Agency estimates the economic cost of obesity at $4.6 Billion in 2008.

I think the poster above depicts peoples mentality perfectly. As a health care practitioner, it is very common for a patient to come to us complaining of a problem and saying something along the lines of, “I don’t know what happened, I was feeling great yesterday.” The fact is, you weren’t feeling great yesterday, you just didn’t know it. Ailments, unlike a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, don’t typically pop out of thin air. The mechanism of injury or disease has actually been occurring for quite some time until the symptom of “pain” etc finally presents itself when the body can’t tolerate the stress that is being put on it anymore. We then must ask ourselves, why do we brush our teeth or take our car in for routine maintenance yet when it comes to the most complex piece of machinery, OUR BODY we are very lackadaisical, almost dismissive? Simple, if we don’t brush or we don’t do the necessary routine maintenance on our car the resultant effects become more immediate or short term, hence we can associate a cause and effect! No one wants to walk around with bad breath, at least not intentionally, therefor we brush to avoid the after effect of not brushing.

It is extremely hard for individuals to grasp the concept of preventive care because the effects of this are typically seen more long term. If we can’t use our senses to touch it, see it, smell it or hear it then we have been led to assume that there must not be anything wrong. The old out of sight out of mind adage comes into play. In the picture above, the third gentleman from the left “Feels Great!”, yet upon special imaging of his heart there seems to be an occlusion starting at one of the blood vessels of his heart, who effects wont be seen until years later when the blockage increases. But hey, at least he is smiling and “Feeling Great!” eh? I would hope by now that you could see the silliness in this thinking.

Exercise has been a long standing nemesis and cost effective tool to preventing many diseases in life, yet mention it’s name to others and you almost immediately begin to hear a million reasons as to why they don’t have time in their lives for it. Edward Stanley once said, “Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise, will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” There is no hiding from this. As important as exercise is, it’s equally important to have your neuro-musculoskeletal system properly evaluated by someone with extensive experience in this field prior to beginning any activity. These would be people like your chiropractor and/or your physiotherapist as they have a keen understanding on the kinematics of the body and the experience in rehabilitating injuries. There is an obvious reason why your family doctor keeps referring you to one or both every time you get injured, it’s not their field of expertise, it’s ours. My recommendation would be to use the experience of both types of providers, as each field has benefits towards your health.

It all gets back to, “I Feel Great!” How do you really know if you are doing harm or not? Most people go from a state of inactivity and neuro-musculosketal dysfunction to a state of over-activity and abnormal loading patterns. This equation equals injury over time and one day you wake up feeling not so great! The question then becomes, “How much damage did I do at this point?” No one really likes hearing the news of a lumbar disc herniation, rotator cuff tear, meniscus injury, arthritis, plantar fasciitis or nerve compression to name a few. Health care now goes from a once cost effective preventive management which was once fully covered under most insurances, to coverage that has been exhausted, now requiring you to pay out of pocket on something that could take months to heal due to the complexity of it as well as lost time from work.

FACT: It is estimated that from 2003-2007, Ontario’s employers paid more than $1 billion in direct and indirect costs related to musculoskeletal disorders.