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LIVING WELL: Second opinions may provide solutions

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A patient sat in my office last week and said to me, “My doctor told me there is nothing to do about my condition and I should just learn to live with it.”

Maybe you have heard something similar.

In many cases, that statement is simply untrue.

Patients are often told this if the condition typically progresses over time and gets worse. In many chronic conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain or obesity the typical pattern is continual decline. However, in many of these types of cases, improvement is actually quite possible.

There is a huge difference between difficult conditions and impossible conditions.

Just in the last few years research has shown that many cases of arthritis and chronic pain can be diminished significantly through specific nutritional approaches, certain activities, manual treatment such as manipulation or manual soft-tissue approaches, acupuncture and other treatment approaches.

That means many people that may have been told at some point, “There is nothing to do but learn to live with your pain,” may have options they didn’t know about.

More doctors than ever are beginning to educate themselves about treatments that have been considered “alternative” or “complementary” medical treatments. Such treatment options include chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, acupuncture, nutritional medicine and other approaches.

I recall a patient that came to see me about 10 years ago. He told me that he had lower back pain that had been present for about 25 years. He said he had seen several doctors and tried physical therapy and other approaches with little improvement. He had been told that since he had failed to respond to these mainstream approaches, that he obviously would have to learn to live with the pain.

Finally, one of his doctors suggested that he try chiropractic care and referred him to my office as a last resort.

During the evaluation, I discovered an overlooked injury that had been present for a long time and was affecting his spinal function.

Within a few weeks his back pain was completely resolved.

Alternative medicine providers are not the only place to look for solutions. Many people are looking to medical providers that provide specialized approaches to common problems such as weight loss.

I noticed a patient had recently lost a significant amount of weight since her last visit. I asked how she had accomplished this.

“I went to a medical weight loss clinic that specializes in nothing but weight loss. I had asked my doctor for advice and he told me to just watch what I ate and exercise more. I tried that for about six months and had little progress to show for my efforts. The weight loss clinic worked with me to specifically recommend food choices and activities. I met with a nurse practitioner, a dietician, an exercise physiologist; all at the same place. In about three months I had lost more than thirty pounds.”

I have other patients that have found help through bariatric surgery when normal weight-loss methods failed.  Although this approach is not for everyone, for some it literally can save lives.

If you have a condition that has not been responsive to routine care, and especially if you have been told, “There is nothing to do but learn to live with it,” don’t stop looking for answers. Get a second opinion, or third if you need to.

This is the only life you will ever have. Don’t settle for poor health when improvement might be just around the next corner. 

Tagged under  Health, Health Care, Living Well, Mark Kestner, Voices

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