Iatrogenic: An illness (or disability) caused by medical examination or treatment


The longer I practice the more I recognize how most of my patients have iatrogenic symptoms.


I am getting to a point of being frustrated with the health care system where an Orthopaedic surgeon tells a 30 year old patient, so nonchalant “You have the spine of a 70 year old” …excuse my language, but what kind on an uncaring a hole would tell a vulnerable person experiencing pain that sort of thing? It is not only of zero value to the patient, it pretty much destroys every chance of recovery, unless the patient is knowledgeable enough or sees a caring clinician to educate him to ignore those ignorant comments. It took me weeks to convince him with my VOMIT poster and studies that DDD is not associated with pain.


I saw an MD a year post L4-5 laminectomy surgery who had an extreme fear of flexion and this fear was seriously affecting his quality of life. He explained, “My last Physio told me that due to my disc bulge history, I should never bend forward again.” …WHY??? Where is the evidence supporting such a comment? This only adds to the fear and belief that the spine is so fragile it will break at any moment. With reassurance and flexion facilitation mobilizations, this MD returned to golf, cycling and to picking up his grandchild!


I just had a 20 year old previously active lady who had seen a massage therapist a month earlier and had been told “..you may have tendonitis and possibly a tear in your rotator cuffs”. This young lady was petrified of the possible diagnosis by the massage therapist therefore stopped exercising until she saw me. It turned out there was NOTHING wrong with her! She returned to her full gym program pain-free immediately after my re-assurance.


I shall now stop my angry rant on iatrogenic cases. I know APTEI Report readers realize how much power our words have over our patients, but how do we spread this message?


In the words of Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility”!

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