Many of the things we do in life are bandaids. Credit cards, fast food, and tow trucks are all bandaids. Although bandaids cover something up, they don’t fix underlying problems. Figuratively, they are temporary solutions. However, in medicine, bandaids can be essential to long-term health.

One of the first lessons you learn in medical school is the incredible ability of the human body to heal itself. Human beings have a fantastic aptitude for survival and a desire to thrive. As physicians, we have perfected the art of distracting the body while it heals. Bandaids can be vital distractions.

Sometimes a bandaid is just what the body needs. For example, would you rather walk on a broken foot instead of being put in a walking boot and using crutches? If you opt for the long walk, you will likely be in for a rough 6-8 weeks of waiting for the bone to heal. Even worse, by walking on your broken foot, it may not heal in a timely fashion or become deformed. Or it might heal just fine. Bandaids can uncomplicate things.

Bandaids are, unfortunately, also easy. At times, we band-aid without trying to fix the underlying problem. Being more active, getting better sleep, eating healthier, reducing stress, and achieving a healthy weight are all critical to reducing harm. Lifestyle modification is not a bandaid. It is hard work. Intuitively we know this, but few of us manage to exercise the recommended amount, sleep enough every night and have a well-balanced diet. Bandaids are part of the solution, not the solution itself.

How we can do good is to continue to reduce harm long after the bandaid is applied. When a patient comes into our office with knee pain, our first goal is to get their pain under control. Controlling pain is an excellent bandaid. However, our work does not end here; by their very nature, the bandaid is temporary.

What comes next is just as critical as getting pain under control—attempting to fix the underlying problem. In many cases, for knee pain, the answer is physical therapy and weight loss. Improving flexibility and strength of the painful knee while reducing the force being put on the joint often improves knee pain long term. The catalyst for a long-term successful outcome is often a bandaid.

Bandaids are a start. They are a critical part of getting us from A to B. Bandaids allow us to put in the time to make real change.

At HealthyU Clinics, we’re here for U. To schedule an appointment, contact us at 602-491-0703 or schedule online here.

By: Alexander Dydyk, DO
Director of Pain Medicine