The other day I got a phone call from a Doctor wanting to discuss one of his patients. Now there is nothing unusual about that, I get phone calls every day from other health care providers looking for advice on how to best manage one of their patients. But this doctor seemed overly chatty. I didn’t catch his name when Elaine, our amazing receptionist, handed the phone over and he started in very quickly with the explanation of why he was calling. “I have a 15 month old patient whose knee cap keeps dislocating,” he said. “I don’t want to operate and was wondering if some strapping techniques and exercises might be helpful.” Again, nothing unusual there, this was a perfectly valid request and I told the doctor so.
“That’s great,” he said, “It is really starting to make her life hard. She doesn’t want to walk on that leg and it is hard for her to stand up from sitting.” I was very sympathetic and said that it sounded like Macey, the patient, was having a very hard time. “Yes,” he replied, “she is even finding it hard to eat out of her food bowl when it is on the ground.”
Whoa, what? Hang on a minute, what did he just say? “Pardon?” I said. “Yep,” he said, “can you imagine a Bull Mastiff dog not wanting to eat?” “What did you say your name was again?” I enquired. “Steve, Doctor Steve, one of the vets just off the mountain.”
Suddenly, now the whole conversation made sense. I had only ever given animal physiotherapy treatment to my own black Labrador and I had certainly never performed any taping techniques on a dog before, but what could I do? I had already agreed to have a go.
And so, the next day there we were all standing around the car park at Physique analyzing the gait pattern of this absolutely beautiful and humungous canine. I thought about how I would tape the leg if she was a human and set about doing it on Macey’s leg. We held her down on her side in the foyer of our clinic and I proceeded to apply the tape. It was a rather ridiculous scene I must admit. In fact, one of my regular patients opened the door, looked in, stepped over me lying on the ground and sat down in his usual seat in the waiting room without so much as a second glance. As he walked past I heard him mutter to himself “I’m not even going to ask about this one!”
The tape definitely seemed to help Macey. She was immediately able to weight bear a bit more and she seemed in less pain. I am not sure how successful the taping will be in the long term, but I have got to hand it to the vet and to Macey’s owner – at least they were willing to try something new and different.
I often treat patients that wish they had come to see me sooner. Regularly they say they didn’t know I could help and had been told that physio wasn’t worth giving a try. If your neighbor or your doctor or your specialist or your gardener or the taxi driver has told you that you just have to live with the pain, I beg you to find out for yourself. If you have tried physio in the past and been unsuccessful, try another physio this time. Don’t give up. I firmly believe that almost all pain can be helped. Take the next step, have the courage to try something new and see if physiotherapy can help you.