WILL Anybody Help Me?!

May 30, 2018 at 11:51 AM

Often, for patients with ongoing pain, it seems it is not a matter of whether anyone CAN help, but more a matter of whether anyone WILL help. Last week I spoke to a young woman on the phone about her troubling experiences regarding her condition and symptoms. She has Ankylosing Spondylitis, a type of arthritis that primarily affects the spine (although other joints can become involved) and can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort. At 22 years of age, she has had pain in multiple joints since she was a young teenager. As I listened to her story, my heart saddened as she recounted the many disappointments she experienced with numerous clinicians she had seen over the years. A few of them even told her that they could not help her anymore. Imagine how lonely, isolating and uncertain it would feel to hear that in response to your concerns.

That conversation got me thinking about people’s willingness to truly want to help someone, and where that willingness has gone. As a Rheumatology Physiotherapist, I certainly understand the challenges of having to know everything there is to know about physiotherapy. And while it would be unfair of our clients to expect that of us, it IS their right to expect us to offer experience, guidance, honesty, reassurance and direction in regards to their care. They should expect a therapist to take the time to look into all that is available for them as a client, and if the therapist feels they are not the best fit for the client, to refer them on to someone who is. The therapist must always look out for the best interests of their client and should be willing to admit when a situation is beyond their scope, guiding that client to where they need to be. Ankylosing Spondylitis and inflammatory arthritis require specific care from somebody who understands and has experience with these conditions. Although there aren’t many in Auckland or even in New Zealand, who can confidently claim that they know how to treat people with these conditions, I am confident that I can.

After working in the world of inflammatory arthritis for close to a decade, I have witnessed the devastation that comes with leaving people without options and feeling like they have nowhere to go. I have seen people who feel they can no longer work, no longer take part in activities they love, and who no longer feel they have a zest or even a purpose for life. This becomes very dangerous, with numerous psychological and mental health implications. This is where my passion for working with people with these conditions arises. I know first-hand what it feels like to think that there is no hope, no way forward, and no one out there who is willing to listen.

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I have recently joined the Auckland Physiotherapy team and I am so grateful that they are on board with giving clients ample time to discuss their history. They pride themselves on dedicating one-on-one contact to allow clients to share their experiences, their goals, their troubles, and feel truly listened to. And if they feel that something is out of their scope, they are quick to refer you to someone with more experience with your particular concern. There are not many clinics out there that are willing to run their businesses this way.

Do you have inflammatory arthritis and do you feel unheard? Do you have Ankylosing Spondylitis? Do you feel there is nowhere to go? I want to hear your story. You deserve to be heard and you deserve help. I am here for you. 

Rachael Butterworth

Rachael is a qualified Rheumatology and Back Pain Physiotherapist. Her particular interest is with clients who have lower back pain that is not resolving, helping these clients get to a diagnosis and then guiding them with appropriate treatment.

 To find out more about Rheumatology assessments with Rachael click here or to book click here.