Patients say the darndest things, they really do. On an almost daily basis I have to stop myself from laughing at some of the things that they tell me, that are not meant to be funny. Whilst it is clearly inappropriate to laugh at them, and I never ever recommend this, I thought I would write this post as a light-hearted look at some patient interactions. Below I discuss my 4 favourite statements that patients said to me this week.
1. “I have a high pain tolerance.”
How often do you hear this? Frequently it is “I normally have a high pain tolerance”, and associated with the patient showing a poor tolerance of pain. It is classic, and makes me laugh.
2. “I have no pain, it’s just sore.”
No pain, and you are here because? Further entertaining (or unfortunate) is if you make the mistake of trying to use a V.A.S on these patients…”I told you, I have no pain…it’s just sore”. A quick serious aside, this does emphasise the importance of appropriate questioning (and listening!) techniques during the subjective examination.
3. Physio: “Did you have any problems with your exercises?”
Patient: “ No problems at all … what were they again?”
Speaks for itself doesn’t it, of course you have no problems with exercises that you don’t do. Interesting though, as I write this I think, I wonder if it is a ‘laugh to keep from crying’ situation. I am sure that some sports physiotherapists out there would be angered when they hear this. Another serious aside (I know, sorry), maybe you should look at what techniques you could employ to improve compliance.
4. Physio: “How would you describe your pain?”
Patient: “A constant and unrelenting ache”
Physio: “Where is the ache now?”
Patient: “Nowhere at the moment”
Another cracker. Questioning technique importance?
Take Home Message
And no it is not that patients are laughable, most of them are not. It is that patients do not think like we do. It really is as simple as that. They are not aware of how we interpret and analyse the things they say and the importance of certain key terms. Thus, it is important to confirm certain (often most) things they say … and never ever laugh at them.