Navigating the healthcare system is complicated – and expensive. Today we’re going to be talking about how to work with the system to fix a certain type of problem quickly and as cheaply as possible. This problem is what we call musculoskeletal pain, which just means aches and pains of any intensity in the back, shoulders, hips, or other similar areas. It has many causes, such as a fall or accident, or you might have just slept on the joint funny.
In any case, what most people will do first is go see their primary care physician. This is actually one of the worst things you can do, because a primary care physician generally isn’t trained to deal with this kind of issue and will just refer you to an orthopedist. The orthopedist will do some x-rays and might offer you pain medication, but often if the issue isn’t incredibly severe, there’s nothing they can do for you, so they’ll refer you again to a therapist or, even less helpfully, just tell you to rest the area that’s in pain.
So at this point, you’ve seen at least two doctors and while you have ruled out anything serious, you haven’t actually gotten closer to solving the problem. The fastest and cheapest way to get at the root of the problem is to actually skip the primary care, and go straight to physical therapy or a chiropractor. These types of clinicians are generally better at screening you from head to toe and looking at all the ways you’re moving to find what the source of the pain really is, and they’re the ones who know how to fix it. Naturally, not all PTs and chiropractors are created equal, so if you go to one and they just give you exercises without actually properly assessing you, you should start looking for a new clinic. We have a great guide on how to choose the best care provide for you on our website, and we encourage you to take a look at that before picking a provider.