#174 Runners take note of Doctor's FEAR | DOC

#174 Runners take note of Doctor’s F.E.A.R.

Today on the Doc On The Run Podcast, we’re talking about how runners should take note of Doctor’s F.E.A.R. 

What is Doctor’s F.E.A.R.? What I’m referring to here is an acronym. It’s, False Evidence Appearing Real: F-E-A-R.

False evidence is really just something, such as an opinion, which is presented as fact, and then agreed upon as truth by another person, like you, the patient.

Now, there is lots of false evidence in medicine. We want to believe, and we as physicians want to pretend often that, the evidence we have, the experience we have with patients, the things we read about in medical journals which are presented as evidence from clinical trials, that those are factual, and they’re not. They’re opinions. They are interesting anecdotes, maybe. But they’re not necessarily always evidence proving truth.

There are lots of things that you may hear in a doctor’s office that really can be false evidence.

Something that the doctor presents to you, that you then accept as fact. You accept it as evidence. Such as,

“All fractures take six weeks to heal.”

“I treat all my patients with this particular time on crutches and it always works.”

“In my hands, this particular surgery works well for this condition and patients do well.”

“You just have to take this pill, if you want to get better.”

Or, my favorite…

“You have to stop running to heal.”

Now, it’s very difficult for runners to resist this sort of stuff sometimes because, let’s face it, we have chosen to go to that doctor. We weren’t assigned to the doctor. We searched online, we looked for evidence of who is going to be the best person to treat whatever condition we think we have, we look for somebody who has good training, good experience, who is well respected in the community, who has good reviews, whatever, and then we choose them.

So, we go in and the doctor tells us something that we don’t like to hear, that doesn’t even make sense to us, that doesn’t seem like it’s real, it doesn’t seem factual. We still have this conflict, then, in our own minds because we’ve already decided this is the right person. We’ve already decided we should trust them. And when they tell us something that doesn’t make sense, we then have a conflict and it becomes very difficult to reject this notion that we don’t agree with when they present it to us.

And let’s face it, doctors are authority figures, and it is easy to be intimidated in the doctor’s office. In medical school, we’re actually taught about a condition that we refer to as, white coat hypertension, where a patient’s blood pressure will literally go up just because they are in a doctor’s office. Because it is somewhat intimidating, and can be anxiety provoking, and your blood pressure can go up just by being in the presence of a doctor. Somebody wearing a white coat, looking very official, telling you something’s wrong.

But you don’t ever want to buy into the fear. You want to think about whether or not the opinion you’re being sold really makes sense. And when you see a doctor, and a doctor’s recommending the treatment for you, you are being sold that treatment. You are being sold on the idea that you need to stop running, you’re being sold on the idea that you need to take that pill, you’re being sold on the particular surgery that’s been recommended for you. 

But don’t ever forget that it really is just an opinion either. Even if it’s backed by statistics, clinical trials, evidence published in medical journals, in research studies, or some sort other very official sounding statistic that’s presented to you as fact, it is just an opinion. It’s the opinion that’s presented from the researchers that publish that study and its opinion that it’s going to work for you, when it’s a completely different set of patients that was studied, when they were actually studied for that particular clinical trial.

So, just remember, there’s lots of F.E.A.R. that is presented by doctors. Lots of false evidence, and you have to listen for it, you have to pay attention to it. And when you hear something that doesn’t really make sense to you, and you sense that conflict in your own mind, ask questions. Anytime that you’re a runner and a doctor’s recommending a treatment to you that you think is going to interfere with your overall goal of returning to running, you should question it. You should see if you can get a better answer. And take note whenever you hear what you think of as Doctor’s F.E.A.R.

If you have a question that you would like answered as a future edition the Doc On The Run Podcast, send it to me, and then make sure you join me in the next edition of the Doc On The Run Podcast. Thanks again for listening!