Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pain is a Terrible Indicator

Sorry for the long Wait beween posts!

I hear it every single day in my office; “It hurts right here.” Well, 90% of the time, when it hurts right here, it’s caused by something else. Our societal norms teach us to chase pain and sickness using our health insurance dollars as a cure all modality. What happened to the individual responsibility? Did you know that in Ancient China, “doctors” were paid by patients until they got sick? It’s an interesting way of thought isn’t it? Imagine that, doctors being paid to keep people healthy, working as precautionary rather than reactionary.

Here in the United States, especially on Long Island and in these times a philosophy like that would never fly. I often find myself wondering, why not? How have we fallen so far away from preventative care that now all we want to do is get help when we decide we need it? There are blood tests that can predict the onset of cardio vascular diseases like coronary artery disease and heart attack. Almost no one receives these tests until they are at the cardiologist with chest pains. There are movement screenings that can reveal postural abnormalities that might one day lead to debilitating low back pain. Unfortunately, chiropractors don’t get the chance to perform these screenings until patients are already writhing in pain. As a society, our health care is driven by two things, pain, and the almighty dollar. I’m going to briefly show you how regular check ups with proper physicians can thicken your wallet and sure up your physiology at the same time.

Let’s examine some common examples. It is recommended by the medical community that before turning fifty or soon there after to have an exploratory colonoscopy. If you have health insurance, a colonoscopy can cost up to $200 or as little as nothing, depending on your carrier. If you are uninsured, there are clinics that provide the same services for similar prices, a private practice or hospital would generally be slightly more expensive. Assuming the high end, that’s $200 one time. Ignoring the necessity of this type of exam could lead to an undetected patch of cancer cells for which the treatment could include surgeries that drive costs into the thousands!

I tell my patients all the time “Let’s stay well, not get well.” Simply put, you are feeling good now and regular monthly or bimonthly checkups will keep you that way. Everyone knows someone who “threw their back out” sneezing, tying a shoe, or doing some sort of benign activity. Well I have news for you, that back was already “out”. That movement was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Regular check ups can clearly demonstrate a patient’s weakest link. Knowing is half the battle. Once we know where an injury is likely to occur, we can address it through adjustments, by altering one’s exercise program, daily activities, or even sleep position and that once a month visit can cost as little as five or ten dollars out of pocket. However, when patients wait for a major injury to occur, the necessary treatment protocol becomes much more regular leading to the accumulation of higher fees.

It is simple to understand. Pain is a poor indicator of physical condition. A paper cut for example can be excruciating, while cancer can go undetected for years. I don’t know about you, but if given the choice, I’d take the pain of the paper cut any time in that situation. When was the last time you got checked? Are you due? Have you had an ache or a pain for weeks that “should have gone away by now?” Schedule your regular check up with who ever it is that you trust with your health today.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Sean
    The profit motive is insidious and I don't think it will ever change.