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10
05
2010

Rant: Why I Can't Stand Doctors

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I can’t stand doctors, or the medical profession in general. Good physical therapists that understand the need for strength training as a vital part of rehabilitation (and prehab) are exempted, but pretty much everyone else in the industry bothers me to no end.

Doctor's Money

Recently while training the Olympic lifts, I caught a power snatch poorly and hurt my non-throwing wrist. The next day, there was significant pain while doing anything with it – including typing. I taped it and it relieved some of the pain, but not all. There wasn’t inflammation in the area, and it didn’t seem to be discolored, so I figured it was a bone bruise or possibly a hairline fracture.

As days went by, the pain subsided – I could pitch but couldn’t swing a bat (which was a bummer, since I love to hit) for my fall league baseball team. It was easy to see what specific area the pain was radiating from and what movements irritated it, and it seemed to be coming from the distal part of the ulna.

My wife was pretty adamant that I should see a doctor, but it would involve shelling out for a co-pay and dinging our insurance plan to simply be told: “Don’t do anything that makes it hurt too much.” They might even prescribe complete rest, which is a great way to cause atrophy in the area and make it more susceptible to damage in the future!

If it were as simple as going in to an office and getting a X-ray, I might have done it. But the hoops that you have to jump through in our medical system (and most in the world, I might add) is simply not worth my time. It would probably take 10-12 hours of my life (including transportation) over several days to even see a specialist, much less get an X-ray of my wrist/forearm.

Someone I know is having shoulder pain while bench pressing, and asked for advice. I told him that he should schedule an MRI and gave him some general training tips that typically work for most people (lots of pulling / rowing / shoulder rehab stuff). When he saw the general practitioner, this is what she said:

Went to the PT today so wanted to give an update on what she said. Basically she “diagnosed” the issue as a rotator cuff strain, with probable tendonitis and/or bursitis. She states an underlying etiology contributing to this is weak lower trap muscles. She says this is a postural stabilizer muscle and it gets lengthened and weakened when people spend a large amount of time with shoulders hunched forward, like slouching in front of a computer (guilty).

Unfortunately, she said you cannot really strengthen this muscle directly by working out, but rather through good posture, with your shoulders back and scapulas in. It seems to me some of the Cressey scapula workout stuff would be a good idea, so I will focus on this in addition to chinups and upright rows in my accessory work moving forward.

She says once the inflammation/possible bursitis goes down bench pressing should not be a problem, so hopefully I can get back on the bench train soon, don’t want what little pecs I have to turn into moobs.

This is all stuff you could easily find out from Mike Robertson’s, Eric Cressey’s, Mike Reinold’s, or my site without shipping a co-pay and notifying your insurance company – meaning it’s completely worthless. Unless, of course, you think that advice from a general practitioner with no experience in exercise science / kinesiology is worth something. Look at the second paragraph: You can’t strengthen “this muscle” directly by working out? My response:

Ask her why you cannot increase the contractile properties of a muscle in your body through progressively overloading it.

Maybe she meant that strengthening it wouldn’t fix the underlying issue of poor posture; that’s true. But everyone slouches and almost no one sits straight up at the desk for their whole life. You need to make recommendations that people can live with. It’s simple to say: “Eat 1.2g/lb protein per day, eat 9.5 kcal/lb body weight, lift heavy 3x/week, do some cardio to tolerance, focus on mobility, and you’ll have a great body” but a whole lot tougher to find out what works for individuals.

Here’s the next steps for this guy to even see a specialist:

Still, I am going to have to go to 3-4 “therapy” appointments, dish out a couple hundred more bucks, then go back to the family doctor, then get a referral to a orthopedic specialist who would have to schedule an MRI, so it will be a couple more months at least before this happens.

Hopefully, it will get better in the meantime and I will not have to follow through. I 100% feel the HMO system is designed so patients become discouraged and give up before doing anything expensive, like going to a specialist or getting an MRI.

Emphasis is mine, because I completely agree. However, it’s more than that: It’s not just the discouragement – they do it to increase the # of co-pays and times they can bill the insurance company to make money.

This is why I can’t stand how medical care is doled out. They pander to the lowest common denominator and don’t give anyone with training experience or self-taught knowledge any respect.

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