Shortly into an appointment, a new client will often throw the disclaimer out there that
‘They know they would hurt less if they would lose weight,’
‘My doctor told me that I need to lose weight to help my joints,’
As if they are coming into the situation with a built-in defect or inherent flaw.
Your knees hurt because you are overweight.
If you lost weight, your back would not hurt.
It is as though these statements suffice as medical diagnoses and biomechanical relevance.
No doubt, the basic physics of mass, force, compression, and torque are true.
I have yet to meet a physical therapist that has resolved someone’s knee pain with a diet plan.
I have yet to see a plan of care solely based on calorie deficit to regain lumbar spine stability.
The healthcare field is excellent at body-shaming patients.
Clinicians are great at blaming patients for ailments.
Of course weight is a significant factor in the physiological homeostatic nature of every person.
Of course, in the larger picture, consistent efforts towards a healthier tomorrow matter and may cause weight loss.
If we, as practitioners, are not going to do anything about it,
Other than to embarrass and shame the patient,
And provide zero options, support, or plans to address it,
Then why bring it up at all?
Our jobs as healthcare providers is to provide health.
– I am sorry –
– To every patient that has been body shamed and blamed;
Having been given the message that it is your fault your weight is causing your pain.
Will you forgive me for the pain we have caused you?
If clinicians truly valued the understanding of weight as an opportunity,
If our commentary served a purpose,
Then we would do more than simply mention it.
When we see a hip inefficiency that contributes to someone’s knee pain,
We mention it.
That concept informs the plan of care.
We then provide tools and treatment that address the hip.
Because we value the role the hip plays with knee health.
When we see someone as ‘overweight,’
And speak to their weight as a factor,
But we do not act;
Our words are left to create more pain.
© Dr Adam Fujita