Two-thirds of all healthcare is devoted to chronic illnesses, like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and asthma. These conditions develop and worsen over a long period of time, typically more than six months.
The other one-third of healthcare is devoted to traumatic injuries and acute conditions, like a broken bone, twisted ankle, stroke, heart attack, or concussion. Although traumatic injuries and acute conditions can be the result of chronic illness, they tend to occur suddenly and are generally expected to heal within six months. When the symptoms and effects of a serious injury last longer, it can turn into a chronic condition.
As I’ve said many times in this blog and during speaking engagements, our medical system is primarily trained to treat traumatic injuries and acute conditions. I thank God every day for the hospitals we have. The emergency rooms. The trauma doctors, trauma surgeons, and trauma nurses. The EMTs. The police officers who escort ambulances to the hospital.
These people and facilities save lives every day.
Of course, not every traumatic injury and acute condition requires a trip to the emergency room. If you slip on the stairs, you might land your hip or twist your knee. It hurts a bit, but nothing is broken. In this case, you might visit a place like Natural Healthcare Center to diagnose the source of the pain and develop a treatment plan.
One of the biggest problems we see in clinical practice is that people who suffer traumatic injuries don’t seek treatment because they don’t have pain, or the pain goes away quickly. They think the injury will just heal itself.
For example, did you know 60 percent of people with a bulging or herniated disc experience no symptoms? Thanks to COVID-19, we’ve all learned the meaning of the term “asymptomatic.” In the case of disc injuries, too many people wait until they become symptomatic before addressing the problem.
As a general rule, you shouldn’t always use pain as the criteria for seeking treatment. If you suffer a traumatic injury, even if it seems mild, you should see someone trained in trauma and acute care.
This is especially common in sports. An athlete will suffer an injury. In the rush to get back to competition, they’ll go back to the gym too early. They’ll start a new fitness or stretching program because somebody on Facebook said it was a good idea. Maybe they’ll take medication or receive an injection to reduce the pain.
Remember the old Doan’s pills commercials? They show a guy with a sore back. His wife hands him a bottle of pills. Suddenly, the guy is outside running again. Amazing!
Here’s the problem. The pain is the body’s way of telling him something isn’t right and that he should stop certain activities. Because the pill does nothing but mask the pain and the injury hasn’t healed, this guy is injuring the injury.
One reason why people try to rush back from a traumatic injury is the psychological stress that comes with the experience. In addition to pain, there are feelings of isolation and the frustration of being unable to do what you’ve always been able to do.
Based on my experience after having surgery in November, I can say that not being able to be me for four weeks, much less four months after surgery, was incredibly difficult. But I had to be patient and stick with my plan.
If you have an ankle injury, have it treated and allow it to heal before you start running again. If you have a concussion, follow the protocol instead of rushing back into action when the symptoms start to subside.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of hope. You need to have hope and optimism about getting better. You need the willingness to follow your treatment program. When you find the right group of people to work alongside you and return you to the best possible level of functionality, hope and optimism become that much more powerful.
If you’ve suffered a traumatic injury or are dealing with an acute condition, come see us at Natural Healthcare Center. Whether the injury is minor or you need help recovering after surgery or a trip to the emergency room, we can treat the cause of the pain and create a personalized plan for healing.