In college chemistry, I recall my professor describing the law of entropy.
This natural law reveals how things generally go from a state of organization to a state of disorganization.
Some metaphoric examples describing the entropy concept would include the fall of the Roman Empire, a computer crashing, the aging process, personal injury and the development of chronic pain.
In my professor’s description, “If you want proof, just quit eating!”
Obviously it’s undeniable that we need to continuously consume food to stay alive & function. Ironically, we also can eventually kill ourselves with food by eating poorly.
We are designed to be active and to require quality movement for continued health and vitality. Lack of movement or compensatory functional movement patterns can lead to pain, weakness, instability and fear.
In contrast to how health relates to this law of physics and chemistry, the art of effective and healthy living is largely about actively and purposefully adapting to our reality.
This requires personal leadership. Too often individuals and leaders choose denial and avoidance as strategies, often resulting in great destruction and downstream expense.
In that light, “Reality is the safest place to be.”
Denial Is Not A Solution
To further elaborate this point, one of the most common signs of a heart attack is denial; the more avoidance, the more likely it will result in physical destruction to the body, and ultimately death.
Injury and pain are inevitably a part of everyone’s life journey. How we respond can make all the difference!
Similar to a computer crash, the nervous system is involved to some extent with every injury.
Initially, the nervous system coordinates the inflammatory response involving tissue repair at the injured site while generally mopping up the mess.
A common treatment approach to address acute inflammation is the acronym “RICE” (“Rest, Icing, Compression, & Elevation”). By itself however, this process often doesn’t adequately restore nervous system health, movement & stability.
A Temporary Fix Is Just That
A metaphoric example might be putting a tarp over a leaky roof before winter comes. Eventually snow, ice, mold, & cold air will enter and further damage the house.
While the “tarp” approach certainly can help some, at best it is only a temporary fix. Long-term, it will fall short of keeping the problem from getting more destructive and expensive without properly replacing the roof with durable roofing materials.
Our bodies can similarly be considered a house we live in which often needs to be fixed & maintained. Similar to a leaky roof, early intervention physical therapy can often save time, money & improve one’s quality of life!
Treating pain solely with anti-inflammatory medications and other passive interventions ultimately can be much like using the “tarp” approach. In responding to both aging & injury, we need to pro-actively work to avoid the default maladaptive & often chaotic outcomes.
These would include weakness, pain, inefficient movement, instability, fear of movement, and recurrent injury. For many seeking better health, physical therapy involving neuromuscular re-education is required.
The nervous system is very similar to a supercomputer. I’ve come to realize the importance of upgrading & protecting my PC. I also choose to rely on people who are more knowledgeable than I with computers to help and direct me. This ultimately save me time, money and frustration.
Finally, considering the human machine, a doctor of physical therapy is a highly trained health care provider with expertise in evaluating & treating nerve, muscle, & skeletal issues.
These professionals help individuals to move and function better and more safely, often eliminating the need for pain medication or surgery.
Besides helping to calm down the nervous system, physical therapists work with individuals to optimally restore strength, stability & independence with skilled PT interventions, appropriate clinical tools & education.
For many with unmet needs, quality physical therapy can be the missing puzzle piece allowing individuals to see the big picture & achieve their functional goals.