Thursday, August 6, 2009
I just examined and reported to a family about the findings of their 18 year old daughter who is a pretty good runner. She's not run for 2 months, has been in back pain for over a year, and has visited several docs and orthopedists. An MRI revealed 2 bulging discs in her low back with degeneration in the facets (back of each vertebrae). All at 18 years old.
Her treatment is ibuprofen, an over the counter anti-inflammatory. The ortho who recommended it said he now knew the problem (MRI showed bulging discs) and that in most cases, her discs will heal and she only needs the ibuprofen to help reduce inflammation along the way.
The flaw in this story is that no one, at any point, asked "Why does an 18 year old girl have 2 bulging discs in her low back?". If this question were asked, then the biomechanics of the athlete would have to be considered, as the cause of the disc injuries is a biomechanical cause. Unfortunately, most docs out there are totally unfamiliar with biomechanics (norms and abnormals) and therefore, would only show their ignorance if they ever asked the question. Also, in our "I haven't got time for the pain" society we live in, ibuprofen and "it will heal on it's own" is the solution we'd all want to hear.
What disturbs me is, this girl doesn't understand how long life is, and that at her present state, this is the best she'll ever be unless she's willing to begin the process of "fixing" this condition. Which takes work. It takes time. There are ups and downs, but great improvement lies ahead for those willing to fix their problems rather than mask them.
It always goes back to the same thing; our healthcare crisis in this country will never be fixed as long as our healthcare providers stay nearsighted. We need to stop making healthcare a profit industry for many, and make it a guide book to a longer and better life for the individual who wants to participate and be proactive.
When that day arrives, this girl will have a chance at a better and more active future, and the crisis we now know will begin it's long journey back to "healthy".