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The Dr. Chris Approach: What's My Philosophy of Care? - Part 3

Check out Parts 1 and 2 first!

#5: Fluidity of Symptoms

Even the most stuck, chronic symptom can disappear with the right push in the right direction, no matter how small it may seem.

You wouldn't believe the number of times I've had a patient come into my office with a symptom they've had "forever", only for us to resolve it during the very first treatment visit.

Why? Because we tried something different.

I believe that most symptoms are not about the force of the treatment, but about the specificity.

It's very easy to assume that we "haven't done enough" for a particular symptom, when it's oftentimes that we haven't tried "the most specific" treatment yet.

Clearly that tight muscle isn't getting any looser with 5 mins of stretching a week, so bumping up to an hour of stretching a week will definitely help. (I hope my sarcasm is showing.)

Your symptom only seems stubborn because your treatment doesn't work.

Try something new.

#6: Kill Your Nocebos

Don’t ruin a good result with negative expectations.

Have you ever heard the term "nocebo" before?

It's the evil twin of the term "placebo", in which a benign treatment causes positive benefits because the patient expected it.

A "nocebo", however, causes the opposite effect.

By priming our brains to expect a negative outcome, we create a self-fulfilling prophecy where that negative outcome becomes reality.

One of my least favorite nocebos is the idea that age is the sole determinant of health.

Many people assume that I’m far younger than I actually am, and tell me “Oh, you just think it’s easy to be healthy because you’re young. You’ll understand when you get older and start having all the same health issues as me.”

First off -- ew, don't nocebo me like that!

Second -- newsflash: I had horrible health issues as a child, teenager, and even as a college student. I’ve spent the last decade or more figuring them out, and I still have chronic health flares if my self-care slips. I’m healthier now than I ever was as a child or teenager, so this idea that we start out as magical fountains of youth and only deteriorate as we age is really just a myth. (Yes, there are some specific changes that take place as we age, but I'm talking about people who blame everything from their acid reflux to their bum knee on "getting older".)

This is also why I don't buy the "oh, I just have <insert symptom here> because I'm getting old" excuse.

I'm aware that Boulder is an anomalous bubble of health and wellness, but I know retirees who still run (yes, RUN!) the Bolder Boulder 10K every year, and even some who participate in Ironman Triathlon races.

These are people who never bought the "I'm just getting old" excuse, and neither should you.

#7: Build a Care Team

Seek like-minded healthcare professionals who can collaborate together to help you reach your goals.

I'm not perfect, and I can't do everything for every patient.

I'm thankful to be surrounded by so many talented independent healthcare workers that I've never struggled to find someone who is a good fit for my patients.

Sometimes my approach is just fine for a patient, but they just require a little extra support in an area that's not my specialty, and I'd want them to get that sort of TLC from a practitioner who LOVES doing their thing, rather than get a half-baked treatment plan from me.

Rather than lead patients on with the promise of results "eventually", I'm quick to refer patients to other practitioners when we don't seem like we'll be a good fit or if we don't seem to be getting results.

I do think that there's a time and a place for patience when it comes to healthcare, especially in the natural health world. There are certainly times when it's just about adhering to a treatment protocol for 6mo - 1 year before you see results.

However, I find this is most often the case for patients who don't have a high baseline level of healthy living in place. Since most of my patients already arrive at my doorstep with a higher-than-average level of self-care in place (thank you, healthy mountain culture), I'm quick to look for alternative solutions if we're not getting traction within a few visits.

Plus, who said we all had to get along? ;)

That's it for this series!

Were there any principles that you expected me to write about that I didn't mention?

Leave a comment below and tell me what I missed!

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