My boys and I spent most of yesterday in the doctor’s office. Two of us had a physical and they both had flu shots. We were there because it was their first day of school winter break and our last chance to get to the doctor before the end of the year. For many people, the holidays are so busy that they forgo going to the doctor altogether.
According to the American Osteopathic Association*, Americans would rather shovel snow for one hour or wait in line to exchange Christmas gifts than go talk to the doctor about any pain they’re experiencing. Two out of five Americans say that if they experienced pain during the holidays they would wait until after to go tell a doctor. And sadly, more than 76 million Americans live with pain everyday.
Thanks to the The Motherhood, I learned this during a group discussion with Dr. Jennifer N. Caudle, an osteopathic family physician. I was eager to ask questions because I’ve watched my mother suffer through chronic pain and I was hoping to gain some insight to help her.
First Caudle explained the difference between an MD (Medical Doctor) and a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). Both have 4 years of medical school, attend residency programs, and take board certification tests. Osteopaths differ in that they take a comprehensive approach to their patients and not only diagnose and treat, but are trained to use their hands. A patient has the benefit of the DO using hands on manipulation to treat the pain while in the office. They also differ from physical therapists and chiropractors because they assess the whole person and then determine treatment, she said.
I told her about our family situation. There have been times in my life when I’ve experienced nagging pain in my legs, knees, ankles, and back. It’s usually when I’m not exercising and this leads me to think that exercise is the cure to all things. I asked her if maybe my mom would benefit from more exercise to combat her pain.
Dr. Caudle said that people with arthritis could benefit from a low-impact activity, but if there is another issue going on it could exacerbate the underlying condition. The bottom line is that I shouldn’t be diagnosing my mom and should talk to her about going to an Osteopathic doctor to find out what’s going on.
What I also found really interesting was the link between chronic pain and stress. How you feel mentally can have an impact on the entire body. Stress can exacerbate pain or manifest itself in different ways throughout the body. “I find it’s really important to pay attention to what’s going on in someone’s life,” Caudle said.
Another very helpful piece of advice from Caudle was that it might not be best to “push through the pain” like I’ve been known to do. Pain can be caused my injury and ignoring the injury and pushing through could make it much worse. “Only when we know the diagnosis and cause can we say if it’s okay to keep going with regular activity,” she said. Once again, more proof that it may be best to stop and see a doctor instead of looking to exercise as the cure to all things.
For more information visit the American Osteopathic Association.
This was part of a sponsored campaign with the The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.
*National Center for Healthy Statistics