We hear generic, almost “useless”, health advice on a regular basis.
You probably would have sit through a family dinner lecture on the importance of sleeping early. Your friends or colleagues, maybe even your chiropractor or physiotherapist, may have asked you to exercise more.
Most of us would brush off such advice. But, what if there is some grain of truth to it?
I came across this pretty image on social media. It suggested we should spend enough time:
- Eating well
- Spending time with loved ones
- Fresh air
I don’t think any of these recommendations were based on research. Yet at the same time, the creator probably meant well. Honestly, I don’t think anyone can fault them.
Interestingly enough, on the more serious and academic side of things, Pain Australia tweeted a quote from Prof Michael Nicholas Director just last week:
“We have to fundamentally change our relationship with the chronic pain patient. We can’t ‘fix them’, we have to work collaboratively with them to find treatments that are relevant to them and that can help them self manage.”
Prof Michael Nicholas Director from Pain Management Research Institute (University of Sydney).
In my opinion, everyone from both the wellness and science sides are trying to say the same thing: To live healthier lives, without chronic pain, the least you need to be able to do is to make the necessary lifestyle change to facilitate that.
Good health interventions are about looking at both you and your problem as a wholesome individual.
Client X: “This is not what I expected.”
It worries me a little when clients look at me with a completely blank face.
It usually means one of two things:
1) They cannot understand what I am trying to tell them. It’s too much for them to process.
2) They get what I am trying to tell them but they can’t fully process it (yet) – they are mind-blown.
So, #2 happened yesterday.
Client X came by for an initial consultation for a problem she has been living with for the last nine years.
She tried multiple treatments but can’t seem to get any results. She had enough of them. She wanted to try something different.
By the end of her appointment, she was mostly staring at me with a blank face. She insisted that she had no questions.
When I mentioned that she looked confuse, she shared that she was looking for something different from her past treatments but this (the consultation) was a 180 degrees change.
“This is not what I expected.”
Good Health Transcends Medical “Fixes”
The healthcare culture has been so reactive for the longest time that we think good health is about curing diseases.
You have back pain, go for a chiropractic adjustment.
You have a tooth decay, go for a filling/root canal.
You are travelling to South American, go get your flu/vaccine jabs.
But good health is so much more multi-faceted than that!
In a commentary Social Determinants of Health: If You Aren’t Measuring Them, You Aren’t Seeing the Big Picture published this month, the authors highlighted that interventions (e.g. chiropractic adjustments, clinical rehabilitation, dry needling) DO NOT always directly influence patients’ recovery.
They emphasised that they are other more powerful factors as well: economic stability, education, health status, access to health care, the neighbourhood you live in, friends and family, social support, ALL play important role in facilitating recovery.
The Expected Status Quo SHOULD BE the best clinical care!
Unfortunately for all of us living in Singapore, the status quo – even from clinicians’ viewpoint – is still lot about quick fixes: matching problems to perceived solutions.
You have a tight muscle, let’s needle it. Your joints are not moving, let’s crack it.
These interventions – while delivering reasonable short-term relief – are just no longer best recommended practices.
It upsets me a little that people are shocked to know recovery involves looking at a whole-person.
It’s not just about: You have knee pain from running? Let’s get you to stop running.
It’s as much about what the patient wants to achieve and what we, as health care professionals, can best facilitate that.
Yes, Love Yourself!
Scientific evidence is definitely point to that self-care is important.
Mindfulness (fairly close to meditation but not quite) made it to the The Lancet’s recommended list of treatments for lower back pain.
Exercise (first-line treatment in The Lancet’s recommendation) has been reported to reduce risk of musculoskeletal pain and, in cases of injury, has high efficacy to help facilitate full recovery.
Sleep directly affects your pscyhosocial state. In turn affects your self-efficacy, energy levels, and capacity for recovery.
The truth is I don’t know if self-care alone can give you full recovery.
But I do know, with the support of scientific literature, is that self-care is a pretty good first step.