There has been an increase of “necessary” surgeries coming into my clinic room as of late. Whether it’s for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Knee Replacement, it seems more people are going “under the knife” these days. I want to take a minute to explore this topic.
Maclean’s published a report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) that “showed that too many procedures are still being done despite evidence that indicates they don’t help patients, such as surgery for knee pain”. After much of my own reading the past few days, I am certain that we must begin looking at this issue more closely.
Quickly, I want to share a few stories that brought light to this issue for me (with their permission of course and names will remain confidential). Last year, a client came to me with symptoms that coincided with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Bad enough, that it was now waking her up in the middle of the night. (Pain, numbness, weakness of the hand, etc ) She went to her doctor. Surgery was recommended. No imaging, testing was done. She came to me stating that she needed some relief until said surgery. I went through a detailed assessment with her and asked her to commit to a strict treatment plan before she went for surgery. You see, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is when the median nerve is compressed at the wrist. However, this nerve has other points in the arm/shoulder/neck where it can be affected. So, does surgery fixed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? The answer is…SOMETIMES. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many times, clients come in after healing from surgery with the exact same symptoms. Except now, they also have to deal with rehabilitation and scar tissue that usually exacerbate the initial symptoms. So after approximately 6 back-to-back Massage Therapy treatments, some Acupuncture and consistent Chiropractic visits, she no longer needed surgery and continues to do well and shows no symptoms (other than muscle tension) today!
The second client’s story, I want to share with you is about someone who was told she needed knee surgery. Her symptoms were that of pain, very limited range of motion and limping. She had difficulty going up stairs (taking them one at a time) and after walking for long periods was in considerable pain. She went to her family doctor who then referred her to a specialist. They took x-rays and found arthritis in her joint, and recommended surgery immediately. She declined. She came to me about the issue and we discussed options. I gave her a treatment specifically to the entirety of the leg that day. Two days later, she no longer had pain and was actually running up the stairs. I found a few Active Trigger Points behind the knee that were giving her the pain she had been experiencing for months. With specific techniques, we eliminated the Trigger Points. Now, she does have arthritis and I (or any other modality) cannot change that. We must work within those restrictions. But for right now, surgery was not the answer for her. Today, she is working pain free and her range of motion is back.
So what needs to happen?
1) ASK QUESTIONS!
-Too often, we entrust others with too much in regards to our health because they are the experts. While we want to collect the data, examine it from and with our doctors, we need to know what is the right course of action specifically for ourselves.
-We are in the age of information. It’s literally at the tips of our fingers. Read. Read. Read. Any doctor who wants to help you will be happy to put any doubts to rest, or offer ideas that may not include surgery.
3) SEEK ALTERNATIVES!
-Always be open to trying alternative modalities before such as Massage Therapy, Myofascial Release, Chiropractic, Naturopathic Medicine, Acupuncture, Pilates, Yoga…the list goes on. The human body is a complex and amazing thing! It gives us feedback all the time. It’s time to start exploring other options if the situation allows.
Let me be perfectly clear, I am NOT dismissing the work of our doctors or specialists by any means. Nor, am I saying that surgery is not necessary in some cases. I am saying…BE SURE. What I want you to take away from this blog is EMPOWERMENT. This is YOUR life. YOUR health and you have every right to be a partner, an active participate in your health care journey. Alternative health care such as Massage Therapy, Naturopathic Medicine, etc is still in its infancy here in Saskatchewan, and many don’t’ think to seek us out. It can be a valuable tool in increasing your quality of life.
In my personal opinion, surgery should be a last resort. Explore your options. Talk with ALL Health Care professionals. It may require a commitment from you of time, finances and hard work, but it’s your health. Without it, we have nothing. This is the only body we are given. You’re worth it.
In the spirit of healing,
Kara Daniels, RMT/BSW