Myth 4: The “Doctor Knows Best”

Myth 4: The “Doctor Knows Best”

Doctors are great as long as you don’t need them. —Edward E. Rosenbaum, author “A Taste of My Own Medicine: When the Doctor Is the Patient”

If you’re like most people, when there’s a problem with your health, you call the doctor, or a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN, and for good reason. Right? After all, it’s well known that doctors invest years learning all about the human body and have by far the most experience. It’s understandable, therefore, that as a group, they are regarded as the foremost authority on health. That’s why since your childhood, it’s been drummed into you to “follow your doctor’s orders” and “do as the doctor says.” The drug industry certainly recognizes their authority by ending every commercial with the same line: “Talk to your doctor to see if our drug is right for you.”

And, in many, many circumstances it’s absolutely true that “doctor or Chiropractor of Little Falls MN, knows best.”

There is one instance where it is often not true, and that’s when you’re in pain. In her book, A Nation in Pain, Judy Foreman tells us that: “Pain is the main reason that patients go to doctors, but most doctors know almost nothing about it, much less how to treat it.” How can this be? How come the people who are the authority on the human body know alarmingly little about pain?

Back to School

It goes back to doctors’ days at med school when they are taught less about pain than you’d expect (and hope). Let me be the first to acknowledge: Becoming a doctor, or a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN, is no small feat. Thousands of hours are spent in classrooms learning everything from chemical reactions to how to do CPR. On top of that, a would-be doctor spends untold hours studying outside of the classroom, not to mention the seemingly never-ending hoops they have to jump through: pop quizzes, reports, midterms, finals, and expensive board exams. Trust me, I’ve been there, and it’s exhausting.

 That’s part of the reason why I, as a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN, was shocked when I read what the John Hopkins Pain Curriculum Development Team found and published in The Journal of Pain (2011) about the amount of time devoted to teaching medical students about pain, and how to treat it. Here’s a direct quote: “A large number of U.S. medical schools are not reporting any teaching of pain.” The emphasis is mine here because it’s so hard to believe. Even in the “better” medical schools, the average time spent on pain education is only nine hours. (32) That’s not nine hours a semester or nine hours a year—that’s nine hours stretched over four years. You can’t get good at playing the kazoo in nine hours, much less learn the ins and outs of pain relief.

Before I go any further, please don’t feel I’m taking cheap shots at my brethren medical practitioners. Other health care specialties like Chiropractor of Little Falls MN, physical therapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture have their own shortcomings when it comes to pain education. For example, a sizable sector in chiropractic considers pain a four-letter-word not to be repeated. “We don’t treat pain. We only eliminate Subluxations (‡)” is the mantra they shout. I’ve even heard practice management groups advise to not talk about pain because “once the pain is gone, the patient is gone.” All the while, millions of Americans are having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.

It’s madness!

Perhaps you’d like to know who gets closer to ninety hours of pain education during their training? Veterinarians. (33) This means that Fido has a better chance of getting rid of his back pain than you do.

In the Field

But what about doctors and Chiropractor of Little Falls MN once they are in the trenches, seeing patients day in and day out? You can be excused for thinking that they will quickly compensate for the shortfalls in the education system and get up to speed. But you’ll want to think again. Pouring more salt on the wound, a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Medical Sciences, which involved twelve medical research centers, revealed that, out of 500 doctors who were seeing patients, only one-third felt comfortable treating someone who had chronic pain. (34) This means that if you’ve been suffering from a pain for more than three months, chances are your doctor or Chiropractor of Little Falls MN, has to take a deep breath and gather his thoughts before walking into the examination room with you.

(‡) Subluxation is a medical term used to describe a dysfunctional spinal joint that interferes with the nervous system.

Not good news for pain sufferers, and not breaking news to the healthcare industry.

In a major report, the Institute of Pain recognized that: “Most people are cared for by primary care physicians who likely received little initial training or experience in best practices for pain management.” They continue, “Too many physicians harbor outmoded or unscientific attitudes toward pain and people with pain.” (35) 

Most doctors (and there are exceptions to the rule) are not your best choice when it comes to the treatment of pain but a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN is.

Hammer and Nail

That being said, some doctors and Chiropractor of Little Falls MN are specially trained to handle pain. When it comes to them, it’s no longer a matter of “Does the doctor know how to get me out of pain?” but rather “HOW does the doctor know how to get me out of pain?” You need to know what to look for in a specialist doctor so you don’t ruin your chances of ever becoming pain-free.

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Dr. Abraham Maslow, Psychologist

When a doctor is trained in a certain way, she filters problems and conditions through that training. A surgeon, for example, has a surgical filter. When a person with neck or back pain goes to a surgeon, that doctor’s job is to determine whether or not surgery is a good option. If you go to a physical therapist, it’s the same thing. With their physical therapy filter, their job is to determine if physical therapy is a good option. This rule applies across all of health care, ranging from neurologists to nurses to Naturopaths. 

What’s the problem here?

The problem, and it’s a big one, is that because of this, health care professionals tend to make patients fit the treatment they offer, instead of ensuring that the treatment fits the patient. That’s part of the reason why nearly 25 percent of all medical procedures and tests are considered unnecessary—which affects tens of thousands of people and costs millions of dollars. (36, 37) The bottom line: many things seem like “good” options, but only a few things are the “right” option.

I as a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN have seen this as particularly true when it involves back and neck pain. Take the word of Gordon Waddell, an international authority on back and neck pain, when he says, “Much of the health care we give for back pain is inappropriate. Too often, the choice of treatment reflects the skills of the professional rather than the needs of the patient. To put it simply, what treatment you receive depends more on who you go to see than on what is wrong with your back.” 

Pain sufferers, how do you know if the health professional or Chiropractor of Little Falls MN you call for an appointment is going to give you the care you need? Keep reading. In the article: “Discover The Solution,” I will tell you the exact kind of treatment proven to be the best, as well as the exact kind of specialist to seek in order to ensure that the treatment is designed specifically for you. 

Stick with this Chiropractor of Little Falls MN here. We’re making good time uncovering these pain myths and exposing the truth. If you’ve been suffering from back and neck pain, sooner or later, you’ll reach a point where enough is enough. You’re willing to try almost anything, which sets you up perfectly for the next pain myth. 


* MYTH: “The doctor knows best.” Considering all of the education it takes to become a doctor, and taking into account that pain is one of the main reasons people seek medical attention, you would think that a doctor would know the best way to eliminate your pain. Unfortunately, for the most part, that isn’t the case. 

* TRUTH: A significant percentage of healthcare professionals receive an upsettingly small amount of education about pain, and this is compounded by the limitations that come with their specialty. It is crucial to find the right doctor or specialist or Chiropractor of Little Falls MN who can provide the right treatment to become pain-free. 

  1. Mezei, I., Murinson, B.B., & Johns Hopkins Pain Curriculum Development Team. (2011). “Pain education in North Amer-ican medical schools.” The Journal of Pain, 12(12), 1199-1208.
  1. Watt-Watson, J., McGillion, M., Hunter, J., Choiniere, M., Clark, A.J. Dewar, A., et al. (2009). A survey of prelicensure pain curricula in health science faculties in Canadian universities. Pain Research & Management, 14 (6), 439-444.
  1. O’Rorke, J.E., Chen I., Genao, I., Panda, M., & Cykert, S. (2007). Physicians’ comfort in caring for patients with chronic nonmalignant pain. American Journal of Medical Sciences, 333(2), 93-100.
  1. Institute of Medicine, Committee on Advance Pain Research, Care, and Education. (2011). Relieving pain in America: A blueprint for transforming prevention, care, education and re-search (pp. 4-14) Publication copy. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
  1. Kolata, G. (2010). Law May Do Little to Help Curb Unneces-sary Care. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from http://www.ny times.com/2010/03/30/health/30use.html?_r=0.
  2. Eisler, P., & Hansen, B. (2013). Doctors perform thousands of unnecessary surgeries. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/18/un necessary-surgery-usa-today-investigation/2435009/. 38. Waddell, Gordon. The Back Pain Revolution. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1998 

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