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Panaceas & Unicorns

The Oxford dictionary describes a panacea as A solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases.”

Or, put another way, a;

There is a common theme throughout all of my blogs, the theme being that there is very, very rarely a single cause of injury. There are, of course, exceptions to this, such as being punched in the face, or standing on lego, or even falling off a curb and spraining your ankle. Acute injuries with obvious cause.

However, pain is nearly always a multifactorial experience, with many layers, particularly if the pain has been insidious (with gradual effect over time).

So, of course, the flip side of that same coin, is that there is very, very rarely a single cure for any injury, pain, discomfort or illness.

Now, as someone who works all day every day with people in pain, this sucks! What a world it would be if every time someone walked into my clinic with lower back pain I could just insert a home-made orthoses; if every one with sore shoulders could just foam-roll the pain away; if every headache could just be a quick C-3 high velocity manipulation; if every “tight” hamstring could just be massaged better; if every foot injury just bought new shoes; if every running injury was just given strengthening exercises.

Alas, its never that simple, and so I have to be – see my blog on Evidence Based Practices – cynical of anything that claims to be a miracle cure.

For any intervention to be offered, I fully believe that we must be able to stipulate exactly why this will be beneficial. There are limitations to most treatment modalities and interventions, and so to offer any service, the research must show benefit to the client, or else we get into the realms of an ethical debate; can a service be offered if the research does not support its use?

And why does the research matter?

I met a flat-earther. They told me that the earth was flat.

I said that ‘science’ (studies) believes the earth to be spherical, because we can show this by empirical evidence (level 1 evidence acquired by experimentation), so that is what my beliefs are aligned with.

The flat-earther said that “studies aren’t important” because the earth “feels” flat.

And we got on like a house on fire, because that’s cool!

I do not seek to change anyone’s belief system – see my blog on Placebo – but that does not mean that I wish to advise on anything that isn’t proven to be beneficial.

So, yeah, panaceas are – unfortunately – as real as*

Recovery happens through clinical reasoning; diagnosis as close to correct as physically possible; the most relevant treatment and/or interventions; hard work; and consistency.

* if my daughters are reading this, Unicorns are totally real

N.B. There are no ‘one size fits all’ style quick fixes in most injury scenarios, so these article shouldn’t be seen as such. They are merely guides to a better understanding of how our bodies work.

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