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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yellow Balloons And Purple Balloons

I always like to use analogies to express ideas relating to medical issues because the verbiage associated with the medical field is typically complex. I thought the analogy of yellow balloons and purple balloons could explain the premise of how a diagnosis for the cause of pain is achieved and why you need to take a multi colored balloon approach to identifying the cause of pain.

If a person has pain they typically enter the medical establishment by going to a physician who request an x-ray or MRI or both. A structural abnormality such as a herniated disc, stenosis, arthritis, meniscal tear or rotator cuff tear is identified. This becomes the basis of the diagnosis as to what is causing the person's pain. The problem with this method is that studies have shown that almost as many people with no pain can be found to have the same findings as those with pain in almost the same percentages. If fact, many of these studies are now questioning the use of these diagnostic tests to correlate a cause to pain.

You can perceive these supposed causes of pain found on diagnostic tests as being yellow balloons. And the practitioners who utilize this method of diagnosing the cause of pain as being only trained in identifying yellow balloons.

You see if the cause of pain were a muscle strain, muscle weakness, muscle spasm or muscle pain, these would not show up on these types of tests. These causes could be considered purple balloons. Whether you see an orthopedist, a chiropractor, neurologist and even most physical therapists, they are only trained in the art of detecting and treating yellow balloon causes. Certainly based on their educational background they can identify different shades of yellow but ultimately they only see yellow balloons.

There are considered to be 83 million people in the US suffering from chronic pain. The number of people is rising and expecting to exceed 150 million in the next ten years. It is almost incomprehensible that not one of these people suffer from a purple cause. But how would you know if you use a system that can only identify yellow balloons. I think the proof would be obvious to find. Check the prescription pad of most orthopedists or neurologists and show me how many of the diagnoses given vary from the finding of the diagnostic tests that were performed. All yellow balloons.

I believe in a multicolored approach to establishing the cause of pain. I follow a method that says that every cause creates a specific symptom and every symptom is created by a specific cause. The symptoms can be from neurologic, orthopedic, muscular even systemic. The clinical evaluation is the key to identifying the cause. A clinical evaluation that believes that causes are of many different colors. The key is finding the right color and then sending the person to the right practitioner designed to handle that colored balloon. In my experience, I have proven that the cause of most pain is muscle weakness or imbalance and therefore targeted strength training is the only method for resolving pain caused by these issues.

But I am certainly open to the idea that every patient who walks in my door might have a cause that is represented by a color in the rainbow and it is my responsibility to identify which color is the cause.

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