Musculoskeletal pain problems and overuse injuries were largely neglected by medical science until the 1980s. In the middle of the last century, doctors and researchers were (quite reasonably) preoccupied with more urgent public health issues. Penicillin was less than 50 years old. Basic surgical techniques were still being pioneered, with skyrocketing success rates. Medicine was still creating huge leaps in the length and quality of our lives. Arguably, even today medicine has better things to do than worry about a few aches and pains.
Yet today we do have the medical “luxury” of paying more attention to relatively minor pain problems that were overshadowed by more urgent medical issues in the past. And those problems aren’t really so minor — just less minor than things that kill you outright.
Aches and pains may not be life threatening, but they nevertheless account for a stupendous amount of human suffering. Even just the economic costs of mild to moderate problems — your garden variety cases of back pain, frozen shoulder, patellofemoral pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and so on — can be quite hair-raising.
Tales of more severe chronic pain problems — back pain that just won’t quit, or dreaded afflictions like fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) — are truly awful. Indeed, CRPS can be so horrendous and untreatable (see O'Connell that many victims take their own lives to escape the pain.
Unfortunately, most physical therapists and doctors still believe obsolete conventional wisdom that predates the current “golden age” of research in musculoskeletal health care. Most problems are treated ineffectively and simplistically as though they were “mechanical” in nature — ignoring 20-year old evidence to the contrary! In chiropractic and massage therapy, there is a simplistic, industry-wide preoccupation with “alignment” and other structural factors repeatedly proven to be trivial by medical researchers (i.e. leg length differences). And countless people with severe myofascial pain syndrome — nasty muscle knots — bounce around the medical system like they are in a pinball machine, serially misdiagnosed and mistreated, often never finding a single doctor or therapist who recognizes the problem, or (having at least recognized it) has a clue what to do about it.Most physical therapists and doctors still believe obsolete conventional wisdom that predates the current “golden age” of research.
Medical experts are devoting their careers to trying to educate their non-specialist colleagues, often seemingly in vain. For example, Dr. Richard Deyo is spending his career trying to teach other doctors about the “myths of back pain” — a long list of exasperatingly persistent misconceptions about back pain that are still being inflicted on patients in doctor’s offices around the world every day. Or another example: Dr. David Simons, who’s incredible lifetime of study of an “orphan organ” (muscle) is virtually ignored by clinicians everywhere, even massage therapists who would seem to be the most likely to care — not because his opinions are controversial, but simply because it’s hard to get the word out and make clinicians take muscle pain seriously.
And this is why I do what I do. The goal of SaveYourself.ca is to get the word out!