Applies the famous Gibson Disappointment Scale© in musing about the undeniable fault with physiotherapy: It doesn’t work.
Physiotherapy has been one of the biggest disappointments of my life.
I say this more in sorrow than in anger, and, paradoxically, with great respect for its practitioners. Yet it is undeniable: On the famous Gibson Disappointment Scale©, physiotherapy ranks south of devastating, but north of flummoxing.
Some of these placements are eminently self-evident: Santa Claus, for example.
Some are pretty nearly self-evident: squirrels, for example.
Some require some explanation: silk, for example. (It’s not, umm, silky. You know what I mean? I thought you would.)
Some, however, require careful consideration, speaking as they do to the fundamentals of the human condition: physiotherapy is one of these.
I first heard about physiotherapy as a teenager, long before I encountered it for my own self. As near as I could tell, doctors prescribed it as they did antibiotics: Take this set of appointments and, hey presto! Your malady will be cured.
But over the years, I heard rumblings of discontent from those undergoing physiotherapy, ruffling my tidy world view.
“What’s up with that?” I wondered, but not very hard. With all the sanguineness of the person not hurting, I figured, you know, short-term pain for long-term gain.
It took a long time?
“Well, OK,” I thought, still dismissively, “Medium-term pain for long-term gain. Still a pretty good deal.” Suck it up, buttercup.
So when my back first hurt, lo, these several decades ago now, and the doctor prescribed anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy, I popped my pill and went to that first appointment with great confidence in the outcome, overlain with just a smidgen of apprehension about the sucking-it-up part.
Imagine my disappointment, though, when I discovered that any pain inflicted during the appointment was not the problem. Sure, the physiotherapists pulled and stretched and massaged, and applied heat or cold or electrical current, as seemed right to them. Sure, some of it caused pain and some of it relieved pain, both in the moment and later on.
But what was wrong with physiotherapy was much more fundamental: It did not work.
By which I mean, I had to. As my current practitioner says, “You can’t fix it with your wallet.”
No, fixing whatever “it” is requires consistent compliance with apparently endless and endlessly tedious exercises, given as homework, and with changed habits of posture, stance, and activity, given as an ongoing challenge.
What’s up with that? No longer entirely sanguine, I have to say I’m seriously disappointed.