Today I’d like to share a cautionary tale we see very commonly in people who get injured but are doing really well with treatment and recovering nicely …

The person is starting to feel really good and they have returned to most of the activities that their pain was keeping the from. They are back on the trail running, playing with their kids around the house, or even back on the golf course playing the game they love.

At this point, when at a PT session, they will often say they “still feel it a little” but it is not much of a problem. This is where trouble can begin…

We know from experience that “pretty good” is not good enough, but at this point many will decide that the pain is is so minor, they don’t really need to continue treatment till it’s 100% gone.

I’ll explain exactly why this can cause big problems and cost them a lot more money than if they’d just completed that last 1 or 2 treatments and attained 100% recovery, but first let me tell my own story of making this same type of mistake.

I have a great example of my own experience with this when I was younger. I was in Mexico doing some work with local indigenous villages helping them build a school. I ate some local cuisine that I was assured was not washed with their water. 

As anyone who has spent time in Mexico knows, even eating eating local produce washed with local water can create some serious health issues. I invariably got sick from the cuisine, which was amazing by the way.

This led me to come back to the main city to a hospital because I was getting quite dehydrated from the intestinal issue I was dealing with.

After meeting the doctor I was given some antibiotics and was told very clearly to finish out the prescription even if I was feeling better. I of course, being 20 years old, took most of the antibiotics but stopped once I felt “good enough” again.

What happened next was pretty obvious and quite common. I was feeling much better, but once I stopped taking the antibiotics I felt terrible again.

This is a lesson we sometimes learn the hard way.. When we as doctors of physical therapy prescribe a certain amount of treatment,  the goal is to ensure every patient gets the right amount of “medicine” we provide.

When you see your treatment through its entire prescription, you give yourself the best chance of recovering fully and staying 100% better. “Good enough” is not good enough.

When symptoms, abnormal movement patterns, and weaknesses are not 100% resolved and you prematurely stop your therapy, it leaves the door open for re-injury or the return of stronger symptoms.

This is because abnormal movement compensations/strains will still be occurring to some degree, and those can build up over time just like they did before. Stopping at “80% better” because you feel “good enough” and you’re no longer limited in your activities can eventually put you back to square one … costing you much more over time and knocking you back out of your beloved sport/competition or ability to work.

It is important to see your treatment plan of care through its entirety for these 3 reasons:

  • Pain is a sign that something is wrong even if it is minimal. When the pain is still there or it returns, it means something is still wrong and should be addressed quickly.
  • When you see your treatment through till you are completely pain-free, you give yourself the best chance of your pain not coming back in the future.
  • The body is much quicker to adapt than it is to heal. Adaptations can get in the way of us truly healing and staying 100% better.

So whether you’re getting treatment at our clinic or somewhere else, see your therapy through till you are 100% pain-free and back to doing all the things you love. You don’t have to “just live with” pain … even if it’s minor.

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