Why Quick Fixes Seldom Work

It seems like everywhere we look these days, people are looking for a quick fix.  Whether it is with our health or meals, or even relationships…we want everything to happen fast.

My son is a great example of this.  Being seven years old, he wants everything to happen at lightning speed, and when it doesn’t, something is seriously wrong!

Last week I had given him the job of weeding an area of our garden.  He was told when he was finished he could go play with a neighbor.  He got to work quickly pulling weeds and came back to me 2 minutes later with “Hey Dad, I’m done!”.

He was very forlorn when I informed him that he had quite a bit more to do.  After 2 more times of “I’m Done!”, he finally realized he was in this for the long haul.  He didn’t work quite as fast after that, but eventually he was finished and went to play 10 minutes later.

We Want Out of Pain FAST!

I think with our health, we all can be in a hurry to see results, especially when we are in PAIN!  We want the pain to go away as soon as possible, and that is understandable.  We are designed to avoid pain and naturally gravitate toward less pain.

The problem is, our bodies were not designed for the quick fix that we all want.  When there is pain, especially when it has been going on for weeks, months, and sometimes even years, it takes work to address the underlying problem.

Understanding what pain is and what it is communicating is helpful.

Bryan Smith, one of my amazing PT students, wrote a blog recently on pain and where it comes from.  Check it out HERE.

Pain is telling us something is not right.  That could be that something is stressed, damaged, weak, or pinched.  Sometimes, as in chronic pain, that signal can be unreliable.

For Example

Lets think about what happens when we have, lets say, knee pain.  Your knee may have started to hurt from twisting it while playing Ultimate Frisbee on the 4th of July.  Initially it really hurt and you decided to rest it for a while.  It has been 3 months now, and you realize it is still hurting when you run or play sports.

No matter what was injured in the knee, you most likely have been compensating over the last 3 months in your activities.  This means you have been changing how you move to adjust for the pain.  Most of us see this as a limp or avoiding stairs.  It could even be avoiding long walks or kneeling down.

Because of this limp and other compensations, we usually see the muscles around the knee weaken because they are not being used correctly.  We also see the range of motion of the knee decrease.  Limping can cause weakness all the way to the hip and down to the ankle.

Now, lets think about the actual injury.  Lets say the injury was an MCL sprain.  This is where a ligament in the knee gets torn to some degree.  As your body heals, it lays down scar tissue to heal, and then goes back in to remodel that scar tissue to look like a normal MCL.

Since the pain has been going on for 3 months, chances are, this remodeling phase was not successful or was delayed.  Now you are left with an MCL that is not as solid as it needs to be to play sports, as well as some weakness and lack of range of motion contributing to the problem.

What About the Quick Fix?

Now, my question to you!  Is there a Quick Fix to this problem?

Would an injection solve the problem?  Well, it would take the inflammation down.  What about the weakness and scar tissue?

Would pain medication solve the problem?  It could take down the pain, but that is about as far as it would go.

To TRULY address the problem, you MUST address the problems causing the pain.  You have to strengthen the hip.  You have to get the range of motion back.  And you MUST strengthen the tissue of the MCL.

Without fixing the underlying problems, you are setting yourself up for knee pain in the future even if the pain goes down.

So, the answer to the question “is there a quick fix”….NO!  We must think deeper than the pain.

The same goes for Back Pain, Neck Pain, Headaches, Ankle Sprains, and pretty much every other problem.   When we want the quick fix, we miss the majority of the problem and set ourselves up for more problems in the future.

We See This Every Day!

Every day I see people who are in pain.  When I ask them their goals for therapy, they usually respond “to be pain free”.   As we get to talking though, what really is concerning them is what the pain is stopping them from doing.

The fact that they can’t walk through the mall without having to sit down.  Not being able to pick up their kids because of back pain.  Being unable to stress relieve with running because their knee hurts. Even having a hard time sitting in class for an hour because their back hurts because of scoliosis.

When we get to the root of what is causing the problem, we can get back to those activities and meet the REAL goals.

To get to that underlying problem though, requires work and maybe some time.  In our fast-paced world, we don’t have time and most of the time don’t want to really put in the work.  Until it stops us from doing what we love or need to do.  Then we will make the time for it.

The KEY

The Key is to address those underlying problems before they get to the point where we have to do something about them.  Work on the back pain before it stops us from walking through Costco!

We could get into the specifics of how tissues heal and the timeline to expect, but I won’t bore you with that.  Along with that, the drawbacks and side effects of medications and injections have been well documented.

Now, I am not saying you shouldn’t use pain medication or receive injections for the pain!  What I am encouraging you to do is look deeper than that pain and don’t forget about what is going on in the body.

I have built my clinic around getting to the underlying problem, and if you would like help with identifying that with your specific issue, I would love to help you.

I have written a Free Report on the questions you MUST ask BEFORE seeking treatment.  You can download it HERE to learn what to look for in treatment.

Just send me an email at david@aligntherapyutah.com and I will respond to you!

Every injury and every person is different, and we need to treat them that way.

 

David Butler, Physical Therapist