Traveling with Friends


Healthcare reform is in the headlines again (or should I say still?). I don't know if Congress will come up with the cost-saving reforms we need, but I have one strategy to recommend—less surgery, more physical therapy.

I had to quit a game of badminton with my son Seth five years ago due to a sudden shoulder pain. A physician assistant in orthopedics looked at my X-rays and saw a partial tear of my rotator cuff. He recommended two orthopedic surgeons and told me to choose one;

When I asked if physical therapy (PT) was an option, he said I could try it, but would end up having the surgery and then have to have more PT anyway. I opted for physical therapy alone, and my rotator cuff has been fine ever since.

About six weeks ago, I started to have serious hip pain. Every time I was on my feet for an hour, I couldn't even step up a curb without help. I was sure I needed a hip replacement. I decided that I would ask our personal trainer Kathy about it at our next session. (Kathy is a physical therapist as well as a trainer.)

When I explained my symptoms to Kathy, she asked me to sit down cross-legged. Normally, with a hip problem, this is very painful to the groin, according to Kathy. It wasn't painful for me. She thought my back might be the problelm (so much for my self-diagnosis) and gave me a bunch of new stretches to add to my routine. She suggested that I try them for a couple of weeks, and if there was no improvement, get an X-ray of my hip and back to see what was going on.

It's now almost three weeks since her visit. I have stretched and stretched. I now have no pain after being on my feet for an hour. Kathy solved my problem, and in the process, saved my health insurance provider some money.

Imagine the savings if more people tried PT before surgery.


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