One of the only good things that clinically I have seen as a result of the CV19 pandemic is a fairly dramatic increase in our patient population of runners. The call to be outside and the need for mental reprieve from a chaotic world likely feed this pattern. I personally enjoy the physical and mental challenges of running for exercise and also know too well that body doesn’t nearly hold up during and after jogs like it did say two decades ago.
It is impressive to me how patients ambitiously seek care to help preserve their ability to exercise. What is equally impressive is how often misinformed patients are, by no fault of their own, about their pain diagnosis. Perhaps they seek advice over the internet, from a relative or neighbor, or from a health care provider who may not be specifically trained to diagnosis precisely pain conditions.
The pain management expert first and foremost is trained to be a diagnostic expert.
How can a problem effectively be treated or cured if we do not know what we are dealing with? For instance, I saw a young woman athlete this past week who had severe buttock and hip pain that did not radiate past the knee. She was sent for a lumbar spine MRI which was normal. Prior to that MRI, she was being treated in therapy for a presumed herniated lumbar spine disc. She was not getting better with therapy because she actually has an issue with her sacroiliac joint and was misdiagnosed resulting in costly time in misguided care and costly time psychologically from her PelotonⓇ for which she breathed.
Education and recommendations earlier rather than later during the evolution of pain facilitate a correct diagnosis and an appropriate care plan.
It is a humbling honor and privilege to help active patients better understand their pain problems clearly. Patients are empowered with data and information and can then effectively advocate for themselves while navigating treatment options.
Doing so sooner rather than later ultimately saves time and money and keeps us moving with purpose and passion!