Most doctors working in pain management are proceduralists.
When speaking to a doctor about your back pain, knowing from Day One whether they wear a diagnostician’s cap or not can be an important early indicator in forecasting your recovery.
As sports medicine and back pain expert Dr. Sean Wheeler shares in Chapter 3 of his new book, UPRISE:
“Ideally, good patient care begins with a diagnostician,
making sound diagnoses to which procedures are applied.”
In contrast, if your doctor is a proceduralist, with no diagnostician on their team, there is a good chance you will suffer a fate similar to a majority of those who seek relief from low back pain. For this majority, the medical establishment is failing them.
How may this “failure” be avoided?
Suppose you have a beloved acoustic guitar, and that your guitar developed a problem such as a “dead” note. Would you take your guitar to someone who would attempt to solve the problem via trial and error? Or would you seek out a luthier – a string instrument repair expert – with the ability to diagnose causation of the dead note before attempting the repair?
Fortunately, there are luthiers who diagnose. There are even luthiers who recognize the parallels of their craft and with that of medical patient care.
Luthier Steve Mason borrows from the world of medicine while thoughtfully offering solutions for string instrument problems such as a dead note:
Beginning medical diagnosticians are told “If you hear hooves, think horses, not zebras.”
Unfortunately, a portion of the medical establishment focused upon chronic back pain rely on procedures as a hit-or-miss method to diagnose: procedures leading to diagnosis, rather than diagnosis leading to best treatment procedure. This hit-or-miss “procedures leading to diagnosis” method is too often the SOP, the standard operating procedure for treating back pain.
This method has become so pervasive it is often accepted by doctors and patients alike as nearly a “treatment algorithm.”
With this context, let’s turn to you.
In thinking of your body as your beloved guitar, your Body Guitar, your high-performance instrument, you do not want this backward “treatment algorithm” to be used in treating your body. Trial and error is a ludicrous approach to pain management.
How can you free your mind from the systemic misinformation fed to you by this flawed approach?
Start by learning whether your doctor is an accomplished diagnostician.
Instead of guessing by “procedure informing diagnosis,” know that your doctor arrives at his or her conclusions through diagnosis informing medical treatment procedure.
The good news is there are a number of pain doctors who are good diagnosticians. Things are not always what they may seem, thus you want a doctor who will discern the underlying truth about your condition. One who thoughtfully processes your personalized circumstances as a patient. Who understands back pain is caused by multiple interlinked problems. And knows there is no workable “treatment algorithm” for that.
How will you know? Your doctor should be able to tell you which exams point to your needing a particular treatment. Your doctor should be able to logically explain for you your symptoms, and match your symptoms to a diagnosis. Your doctor should be able to describe to you the cause of your back pain.
Be that patient. The patient who knows these things about their doctor. And in return is assured of receiving good care.
Of your high-performance instrument, your Body Guitar.