"You know, helping patients to understand what the pain means to them in their life, and what they think about that pain, is one of the most important things therapists can do. The fear they have may not be warranted for the problem they present with, but it's the unknown that causes that fear and anxiety that we really can help patients with a lot.
"Pain is a really tricky thing with patients, especially what we understand about pain today. We used to believe that pain lived in the tissues. So if you smashed your finger, the pain was delivered from your finger to your brain and said, "Ouch."
"Where, what we know now, is all pain is an output. So your brain has to process it and say, "Is this a threat or not to the system?" Helping patients navigate that understanding, is a really key part of what we do as therapists.
"Not all pain is a threat, especially chronic pain. Chronic pain no longer serves the mechanism of, sort of, protecting you. Whereas, acute pain says, "Don't touch the hot stove again, because you're going to burn the skin off your fingers. Not a good thing." Where chronic pain, goes on and on, says, "We're not really sure why that occurs, but we know it occurs."
"When working with a specialist as a partner, we know one of the most important things that we can do is follow their plan of care, their protocol and protect the surgical repair and the surgical procedure that they did.
"The patient's state of mind pro-surgical varies a lot. You have some patients that come in and have really no worries. They just know their body needs to do what it needs to do and they need to go through the steps. You have another set of patients who come in and they're highly fearful, highly painful, and often times don't do very well surgically because of the strong association of pain with fear that movement is bad. As therapists, we really can help them understand that movement is actually great. It's what they need to do to rehabilitate. It's what they need to do to return to function, and then we can help them manage their pain or reduce their pain with a variety of treatments, techniques and education.
"I think the Results approach for orthopedic rehab is extremely well-positioned to take care of these patients better than anyone. The reason I think that is that our therapists are so specifically trained and highly-trained in understanding pain science, movement disfunction, specific tissue problems, and that would be what the surgeon repaired. Understanding how to optimally stimulate it, how to optimally protect it and how to gauge the healing process. They're giving the patient the right stuff at the right time. We do that with pain patients and non-surgical patients better than anyone else. When we apply that concept to the orthopedic patient, I think we get outstanding outcomes because of that. "