As I sit in my office drinking coffee and listening to The Movement Fix podcast, it became evident that Physical Therapists (PTs) and Chiropractors (DCs) alike are in a strange position in our healthcare system. We are both viewed by many as secondary providers focusing on the movement of joints and muscles which are relatively unimportant when compared to vital structures such as the heart or the lungs. Additionally, our scope of practice (what we are legally allowed to perform under a license) varies greatly across the country which contributes to a convoluted image of our professions.
Dr. Sahrmann plainly explains that physicians have become specialists in certain human systems: you can see an endocrinologist, a neurologist, a cardiologist, an orthopedist, a pulmonologist and the list goes on. All of these physicians have become "specialists" or "experts" in that anatomic and/or physiologic system. The problem for PTs, as well as many DCs, is that we need to establish ourselves as specialists in the musculoskeletal system. Actually the problem is not establishing ourselves as experts in that system, because many of us have. The issue arises from the general public's perception of the musculoskeletal system as a non-essential and sometimes simply annoying aspect of health. Most people feel as if they are low back pain is happening to them as opposed to having some form of input or control over the how and why the low back pain exists.
If you have talked with me about routine or follow-up care, you know that I frequently relate asymptomatic visits or well visits to the dental world. If you are not in any pain or discomfort, have someone like myself, evaluate you on a periodic basis. If you are in pain, that changes everything. But just as you schedule 2 dental visits per year to get a check-up and cleaning, as a PREVENTATIVE, you should schedule 2 movement visits per year to get a check-up and lifestyle modifications.
My opinion is obviously just that. It has been influenced by many factors, both seen and unseen. But I want every one of you to re-consider your daily movements. Unless you are completely immobilized from head to toe, ALL of us move everyday. These movements effect your bodily systems in a variety of ways and one of the most obvious is through altered biomechanics and eventually pain. You don't even need to exercise regularly to realize how much movement impacts your life.
You walk to the bathroom. You bend forward to look into the refrigerator. You stoop over the kitchen sink to wash dishes. You turn to get into your car. You walk up and down stairs. You pick-up children. You sit at a desk. You walk around the office or your home. You sit on the couch. You run on the treadmill. You perform a deadlift at the gym. Many of these movements happen without our conscious awareness, until pain occurs. Prior to that pain, we do not realize how much we must move. Same situation occurs with regards to dental care...you eat food everyday without consciously considering your dental hygiene (except for brushing, flossing, etc), until pain occurs. Prior to that pain, we do not realize how much stress our oral health battles. Hopefully this analogy lessens the muddiness of the water.
The most important take home message from this is: FIND A TRUSTED AND KNOWLEDGEABLE CLINICIAN TO EVALUATE (AND POSSIBLY TREAT) YOUR MOVEMENT SYSTEM.
Included here are links to Dr. Sahrmann's profile, books, and The Movement Fix podcast.