“I don’t want to see an orthopedic surgeon because I’m scared what he’ll say”

“I don’t want to see an orthopedic surgeon because I’m scared what he’ll say” Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic

24 May “I don’t want to see an orthopedic surgeon because I’m scared what he’ll say”

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Last week, I did an assessment on a CrossFitter with shoulder pain.

He had shoulder pain for 2-3 weeks and it was 75% improved with:

  • foam-rolling.
  • stretching.
  • avoiding movements that hurt it.

As I’m doing the assessment, I noticed that he wasn’t too happy to be doing the assessment.

Normally, when I can really help someone and I explain why, the individual:

  • Looks at my eyes with his eyes.
  • Smiles.
  • Nods his head up and down.

He hardly looked at my eyes, didn’t smile, and had no facial expression.


Noticing this, I asked him:

What are you thinking right now that you’re hesitating to say to me?

He smiled, paused, looked into my eyes, then answered:

I’m only getting this assessment because Coach Shawn wanted me to get it.

(Or in other words … my words) I have no intention of coming into your office for treatment.

I smiled back with gratitude.

I acknowledged him:

Thank you so much for telling me the truth. I fully respect that.

Look. You’re probably going to improve 100%. Since this is your first injury, there’s not much to worry about.

So see you later.

Then, we both left each other’s space on the same exact page. In the last 30 seconds we spent with each other, he looked at my eyes for more time than he had in the previous 10 minutes, combined.

He didn’t leave me thinking: “I wasted 10 minutes of my time and now he is going to harass me to come into his office.”

And I’m not thinking: “His shoulder flexibility was restricted 20%. Why won’t he come in for treatment when this is a home run for us?”

He doesn’t want my help and that’s 100% acceptable.

Knowing this information helps me understand where I should be having a conversation with someone to help them … or not.

What You’re Thinking Helps Us

Our purpose at Barefoot Rehab is to be the premier musculoskeletal providers in New Jersey and New York City.

In order to fulfill that purpose, there are several dependencies that must happen, with 100% certainty.

dependency: something that must happen for a goal to be achieved i.e. you can’t build the 2nd floor of a house without the foundation being put down first.

Our dependencies to deliver superior musculoskeletal healthcare include:

  1. Earning the trust of every single patient.
    • If we can’t help you, we must discharge or refer you out within 3-5 visits.
  2. Pointing out and respecting all relevant problems to a condition. The list includes:
    • metabolic problems (i.e. thyroid disorders, diabetes)
    • structural problems (i.e. labrum tears, arthritis, disc herniations)
    • overload problems (i.e. continuing to do the work or exercise that damaged you in the first place)
    • emotional problems (i.e. using exercises as the ONLY form of stress management)
    • ergonomic problems (i.e. sitting upright with your back away from the chair for hours every day instead of Sit-Slide-Lean)
  3. Understanding what patients are thinking better than they think themselves.

Failure to fulfill on any of these dependencies means:

We take our ability to know what you’re thinking, very seriously.

It allows us to do the right thing by you.

I don’t want to see an orthopedic surgeon …

We’ve been performing interviews of past patients to see how long their pain relief has lasted and to learn how we’re impacting patient’s lives.

One patient’s low back pain was 85% better, 3 months after treatment ended, because of us.

We couldn’t fix the last 15% due to her suspected herniated disc.

We told her to get an MRI of her low back several months ago when we discharged her after telling her how to manage her low back pain.

As she was telling me about her experience with us at Barefoot Rehab, I noticed she said:

I initially found you on the internet. I didn’t want an orthopedic surgeon. Wanted an alternate route to alleviate and cope with the pain.

She said “I didn’t want an orthopedic surgeon” several more times.

Noticing that, I asked her:

Why didn’t you go to at least get an MRI of your low back? What’s present for you when I ask that?

She said:

I’m scared what they’ll say. I don’t trust this doctor. I’m scared he’ll say it’s really bad or that I need surgery.

“Ahhhhh, I got it. Thank you for sharing that with me.”

Did you know that I can write an MRI script for you and go over your report with you without an orthopedic surgeon’s involvement?”

She answered, “No, I didn’t know that.”

Then, I wrote her a script.

We can’t help you unless you tell us what’s going on in your head.

At Barefoot Rehab, we understand many things about our patients.

Some of you:

  • love your chiropractor and can’t imagine that anyone else can help you more (A few weeks ago, we saw a patient who’s been getting adjusted by a really successful chiropractor nearby us for years. We did the pencil test on him and showed him how his low back was functioning at only 50%! He didn’t come in to see us to get it fixed. And that’s OK.) 
  • don’t trust any doctors and believe that no one can help you.
  • are scared to see anyone for your (enter body part) pain because one of us might tell you “You need to stop doing that.”
  • think you can continue working out as hard as you are because you believe that PRP or stem cell injections will save your joints.

We understand, all too well, all of these thoughts. I’ve had a lifetime’s worth of injuries myself.

You have our permission to hold on and keep all of these thoughts and beliefs.

But we desperately want you to know something:

We may not be able to help you.

… But what if, we can fix your pain by 50%?

… What if we could get rid of it by 100%?

You may not need to stop exercising or doing what you love.

… Or you may need to stop.

… What if, what you’re doing is going to cause a disc herniation or labrum tear within the next year?

… What if, you knew that you were on a path to not being able to walk without excruciating pain based on your current lifestyle?

Wouldn’t you want to try one more type of treatment that gets amazing results with people? (47 5-star reviews on Facebook, 29 5-star reviews on Google)

Wouldn’t you at least want to know the truth about your pain?

That’s all we have for you today.

The possibility that you can have greater relief or at minimum, know the truth about your pain.

You just have to tell us what you’re thinking and we’ll support you in any way we can. Even if you live on the other side of the Earth.

If you live in New York City or Northern New Jersey, you just have to give us a call.

speechbubblesWhat are you thinking right now? We can’t read your minds through the computer. Do you agree with any of our key points? Do you disagree? Do you think all doctors are evil and wish the worst upon you? Do you believe in dragons?  Share it with us. We want to know. We read every comment.

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Dr. Chris Stepien, DC, Full-Body ID Certified, ART Certified, CSCS, and CrossFit Level 1 Certified, fixes your annoying and frustrating pains, even when it's been over 6 months and you've seen 3-5 other doctors or therapists without lasting relief Barefoot Rehab in Denville, NJ. And when you're sad, depressed, or not enjoying life, Dr. Chris wants to hug you. He invites you to reach out, no matter what your concern is. Barefoot Rehab is here to serve you.
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