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  • Writer's pictureJulia Trollip

The danger of the diagnosis

Have you been given a diagnosis that feels restrictive or final?

Have you been told that you have a disc bulge, osteoporosis, tendonitis, shoulder impingement or flat feet as examples?

How has this made you feel?

Has this lead to a belief that you can no longer do certain activities, or that this is just something you now need to accept and adapt to?

Whilst a diagnosis can be helpful, there are some important factors that, in my opinion, that should be considered.

As Gabor Mate says, ‘Diagnosis describes things, it doesn’t explain things.’

There are many different ways in which to diagnose a condition of which some are an MRI, X’ray, orthopaedic tests, observation at rest or whilst moving and even doctor Google (gulp!).

Whilst all of these have merit, there are some things to take into consideration regarding each:

  • Human error:

Is the report being correctly interpreted?

If taking an X’ray, is the patient in the correct position?

Is the orthopaedic test being conducted correctly?

And, is the therapist conducting it the same each time?

  • Using only one method to diagnose:

For example, having an X'ray taken when going to certain therapists. This is used as the assessment and the diagnosis made from it. Here, human error can play a significant role. Let's say you have an X’ray on your spine and you are told you have scoliosis. You have a few sessions, and then another X’ray is taken.


Did the same therapist take the second X’ray?

Were you standing or lying in exactly the same position?


A 1 degree error can result in very different outcomes. In an ideal world, in this example, an X’ray should be used to back up a host of other tests used to diagnose rather than being the sole method.

  • How the diagnosis is explained to the patient:

The way a diagnosis is presented can significantly impact the individual. The words used can create a positive or negative belief and, if it’s the latter, the results of this can lead to a belief that they are in danger (for example - have a bad back), which can lead to a reduction in activity, a fear of moving, or stopping an enjoyable activity. This can ultimately lead to a reduced quality of life, depression, a loss of identity and a belief that they will never get better.

  • How the information from the diagnosis is used going forward:

When focusing solely on the diagnosis, the treatment used is often symptomatic and that the area of pain is being treated, rather than understanding what led to the diagnosed issue. While people can experience relief with symptomatic treatment, this is often short lived. As an example, you may have been diagnosed as having flat feet and advised to wear orthotics.


Was the rest of your body taken into consideration though?

Were your flat feet diagnosed with you standing still?

Was your movement taken into consideration?


Your flat feet could be because of something happening higher up in the chain. Wearing orthotics may feel good in the short term, but it does not deal with the root cause, and this can lead to new stresses being put on the body and over time, you may find yourself having a ‘bad’ knee or hip.

What is important to remember is that the diagnosis given does not mean the cause. People can have the same diagnosis but each of them could have gotten to it in very different ways. This is why it is vital to treat the individual and NOT the diagnosis. It is imperative to taken into account each individual’s exercise and injury history, their lifestyle (work, diet, leisure activities, stress levels etc.) and also take into account what they would like to continue doing, before being able to come up with a treatment protocol specific and meaningful to them.

Here at JT Biokinetics, we acknowledge the diagnosis, but we also take into account your history, past injuries and activities. These can provide clues as to how you have landed up with the diagnosis.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your diagnosis or if you feel like you have to give up the things you enjoy, get in touch with us and let’s have a chat to see how YOU can overcome YOUR diagnosis and get back to the activities you enjoy!

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