Kids Foot and Ankle Pain - Whats the message for parents

It’s Father’s Day I love my dad and I’m sitting  in the entertainment area of my childhood home after cooking my dad his Father’s Day breakfast. My brothers are here with their children as well and we are discussing my parents impending trip to Europe but more concerning in the discussion is the Back Pain that has my mum currently in a wheelchair.

Mum has been to see a therapist  she’s been given exercises and a treatment plan that she needs to undertake. My dad says “oh well I think from here it’s all up to Peter” I look at him and I reply “Who is Peter” My dad replies “Your mums therapist. It’s up to him whether or not your mum will get to Europe. Let’s hope he can get her better in time.”  Pardon?

My head twirled, my eyes roll and I’m quite sure I probably became the colour of an orange. I reply with all the love I can muster,  “This has very little to do with Peter and a whole stack to do with mum.”

That’s right, It’s not Peter‘s responsibility to get my mum better!  Peter has developed a treatment plan and the biggest participant in that plan is Mum. Peter can show her what to do tell her when to do it  but in the end who is the person that is responsible - MUM!

I have no idea who Peter is I’ve never met the guy but I know from experience that this is a common expectation of patients that somehow it is the practitioners responsibility to get patients better. I’ve got to tell you that whilst Peter and I have our patients best interest in mind and as therapists work hard to help out patients reach their goals. I think there is very little further from the truth than it’s “up to us” to get patients better. Dad .... Mum .... listening?

If I was to make a list of the most common reason that I see for people not getting better, at least half would be the laid at the feet of the patient themselves. Yes I know this is a bitter pill to swallow if you are a patient and reading this blog is not going to make me at all popular but them‘s the breaks so to speak

So what is the on “The list”

  • Not following your treatment plan -  broadly speaking
  • Not completing your exercise program as instructed
  • Not Completing exercises as often as  required.
  • Not wearing the footwear your practitioner suggests.
  • Picking and choosing the best bits of your treatment plan
  • Holding your practitioner responsible for your success

Now of course there are other reasons that can contribute to your lack of recovery and yes at times they relate to therapy or perhaps diagnosis. Yes practitioners get it wrong but so do patients! As humans we seem pretty programmed to point the finger at others than recognize that we maybe a contributor to our problems.

If you find following your therapists instructions difficult let them know, SPEAK UP! Sometimes 13 different stretches in a day is too much. But equally if they tell you that you need to do this to get better you’ve two choices - 1. Get to it or 2. Get a second opinion. But that’s it, choosing to not follow the plan and then blame to therapist for your lack of progress is like not taking your medication the doctor prescribes and returning to them complaining that your not getting any better.

To the therapist reading this. Stop being walked over! If your patient isn’t following their plan and you know it or they are negotiating not completing vital parts of the plan, fricken speak up! Tell them straight! You are in no way helping either of you by following that course. The patient doesn’t improve, you look stupid and incapable and that is a lose lose for you all! That patient will see someone else and will bad mouth you to their friends, loved ones and the next therapist they see! I know because they see me!

So my mum? Well as part of that discussion, after my head stopped twirling around like I was a cast member of the exorcist, was to ensure my mum had a clear understanding that Europe was not only physically thousands of kilometres away but also metaphorical the same unless SHE got to it and got stuck into HER part of HER treatment plan SHE was not going anywhere! My mum is, as I write jumping on and off buses in Europe enjoying HER holiday!

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ABOUT DR BRENDEN BROWN

Founder of A Step Ahead Foot + Ankle Care in Sydney, and former president of the Australasian Podiatry Council, Dr Brenden Brown (A.K.A Dr Foot) is a wealth of knowledge on how to take care of your feet, including how to find the best shoes.

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* No medical treatment can guarantee 100% success. Registered medical and health professions in Australia are by law not allowed to guarantee success. This comes as a result of all human bodies reacting differently to treatments. Patients should thoroughly consider all treatment options available to them.